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What can congregational leadership look like today?

John Allen 4 webPastor John Allen
Interim Pastor

The congregation in which I grew up had one pastor who did virtually everything. Thank goodness he almost always had a stay-at-home wife, who did virtually everything else. He did almost all the teaching of adults. He taught confirmation for seventh and eighth grade students. He also taught confirmation to any new initiates to the Lutheran faith. Lay adults could teach Sunday school and vacation Bible school, with supervision by the pastor. The pastor was either the president of the council, or approved most or all the action.

High school youth group or “Luther League” was organized like most groups of the congregation: by electing a president, vice president and secretary. Regular meetings were held and notes were taken. Dues were accepted from members to cover any expenses of the group. Besides Bible studies, regular outings, or service activities were planned at the meetings. Car washes were a regular form of fund raising. Outings were chaperoned by adult volunteers. The pastor was nearly always present at Luther League meeting and outings. When the congregation grew too large for one pastor (usually due to worship size and building capacity), the solution was simply to add another pastor—usually a younger one, to help manage youth ministry. Worship was very traditional and uniform with little variation between one service and another.

I suspect these “pastor centric” congregations were a product of a time when pastors, lawyers, and doctors were virtually the only members of the community educated beyond high school, let alone college. It’s not surprising that, with the prevalence of college educated adults, church leadership and activity has evolved to include male and female pastors, lay professionals, and volunteers in the leadership roles. People have also come to expect a wide selection of things and activities. Adults and young people are no longer content with a single option—whether it be with worship or any other activity.

That being said, it’s surprising how many congregations want to call a pastor who can do all and be all in the congregation. Expecting leadership to come almost exclusively from one person “at the top,” is a recipe for confusion and dysfunction. The larger the congregation grows, the more it should, and can, rely on a variety of leaders with a broad range of skills. Though it may still be wise to have a trained theologian and skilled administrator to be the key leader of a large congregation, there are many levels of leadership and responsibility that allow for the variety of programing beyond what any one person can lead and be involved in.

Congregational councils are wise not to try to manage all of committee or commission activities. Appoint skilled leaders at all levels and divisions of church work. Give them the freedom to operate within guidelines established by the leadership and approved by the congregation. Let the council be occupied with the vision and general direction of the congregation and God’s mission. Let the congregation seek to call a lead pastor with good management and people skills and a vision of the future development of the congregation. Let the congregation be committed to prayer and discernment of God’s work. Let them be committed to a common vision and strong support of all leadership throughout the congregation and the wider church. And let the glory belong to God alone.

Look for God every day

liturgy-of-the-ordinary

LindsayColwell 2017webLindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

When people aren’t familiar with the type of job that I have or are not familiar with St. John’s they tend to say to me as the school year winds to a close, “Things must be slowing down for you now that the school year is ending, right?” Usually that produces a laugh from me and the comment, “No, I am actually MUCH busier in the summer.” I spend my summer preparing last-minute details for the high school and confirmation trips, putting together summer mid-week worship with Amanda, and trying desperately to get everything ready for the coming school year. Three months sounds like a lot of time, but in reality it goes by in a flash.

This summer in mid-week worship around the fire pit we are using a book called Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. The book outlines how everything from waking up in the morning to checking email to going to bed are sacred practices in the life of our faith. We are also spending time concentrating on prayer. How can we not only make prayer a more regular part of our lives, but how can we pray for one another. One of the things that we are trying out is writing our prayer requests for the week on a Post-It note and then at the end of the service taking home someone else’s prayer request to include in our own prayers. Busy lives get in the way of our faith at times, but perhaps if we spend a little time shifting our perspective about what prayer looks like we will see that our entire day can be seen as a prayer. I have a quote up in my office that says, “God comes to you disguised as your life” (Paula D’Arcy).liturgy-of-the-ordinary

Take a moment to look around and see where God is showing up in your life. Take a moment to pray for someone else. Open your eyes to the possibility of the sacred in the everyday ordinary occurrences in your life. Find a few moments this summer to set aside the busyness and thank God for the wonder that is life. God’s blessings to you in your sacred, ordinary life.

 

Looking Ahead: Lutefisk 2017

Make plans now to help with the 56th annual lutefisk dinner to be held on Thursday, October 26, 2017.  Lefse bakes will begin on August 23 and continue for nine weeks. In addition to lefse bakes, you can volunteer in many different capacities. Renee Solberg will continue as dinner chairperson; Shelley Gustafson and Marge Albright will again serve as co-lefse leaders.

If you have been looking for a new project to become involved in, the lutefisk committee begins meeting this summer. Our current committee members have all served many years and for this dinner to continue, new leaders need to join the committee. Please think about saying “YES”!

The lutefisk committee is pleased to report that most proceeds from the 2016 dinner and bake sale have been dispersed. Many organizations and groups have benefited from our proceeds. THANK YOU!

2017 Dates to Remember

  • Tuesday, August 22: First Lefse Setup and Potato Preparation
  • Wednesday, August 23: First Lefse Bake Begins
  • Sunday, September 24: Worker Signup Begins
  • Wednesday, September 27: Worker Signup Continues

Mark Your Calendar: Annual Brat & Pie Social August 17, 5-7 pm

Join us for this annual night to get out and enjoy food, friends, and music! Brats, hotdogs, chips, & beverage for a small charge provided by Adult Fellowship. Pie & ice cream provided by WELCA for a small charge. Don & Peggy Holtan are back with their “Old Time” musical selections.

Worship by the Fire Schedule

2017 worship by the fire

We’ll be worshipping at St. John’s new fire pit every Wednesday at 6:30 pm. We do worship rain or shine! We just move inside if weather dictates.

Every week we’ll worship guided by a book called Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life. You bring a camp chair and we’ll bring the s’mores!

  • June 24: Blessing of the Pets
  • June 21: Celebration of VBS and Family Fun Night
  • June 28: Prayers for those on St. John’s mission & faith formation trips
  • July 5: Christmas in July
  • July 12: Celebration of Haiti Mission
  • July 19: Celebrate the County Fair
  • July 26: Prayers for confirmation campers
  • Aug 2: Celebration of Backpacking Trip
  • Aug 9: Festival in the Park/Celebrate our community
  • Aug 16: Celebration of Confirmation Camp
  • Aug 23: Affirmation of Baptism
  • Aug 30: Back to School Backpack Blessing