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An update from the Transition Team

Jen Smith
smithfamilyrks@gmail.com

Temple talk by Jen Smith

We have been dutifully moving forward identifying what God is calling St. John’s to do. Over the last 8 weeks we have utilized The Advantage as our guide to address crucial questions to help us name our identify, intentions and ability to serve God in a rich a meaningful way. We have prayed, discussed…at times with more emotion than we anticipated, and searched for the exact RIGHT answers. You may have seen our work in progress in the Fellowship Hall. The information we have gathered since we began in May assisted us in our continued dialogue to reach consensus. These six questions are now being pondered and answered by our leadership council.

The six critical questions:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What is most important -right now?
  6. Who must do what?

The leadership council and transition team will begin to work in tandem in the upcoming weeks to ensure we have a solid foundation in which to lean on while completing our ministry site profile and calling a pastor. Beyond that, we are confident that the process we’ve utilized and Gods continued guidance and grace has helped us put in writing who St. John’s is and what God calls us to do. It has helped us form a sense of ownership for our congregation and we hope many of you feel the same way.

Discussion has begun regarding the formation of a call committee. We are preparing to complete a ministry site profile. This will be a collaborative effort of members of the transition team, leadership council and call committee.

Dennis Foster, Marlo Bungum, and I met with Susan Miller in the synod office last week to introduce ourselves and establish what will be a working relationship during the call process. She is excited to see where we are at and is positive about us finding a great fit in calling a Lead Pastor.

We anticipate focused prayerful work in the next 6-8 weeks. I speak for both the transition team as well as leadership council that we are ready for the final stretch!

So YES…there is an end in sight to the transition part of this team; but certainly no end for the teamwork, leadership and visioning of many dedicated members of our congregation.

They wish to see Jesus

In Pastor John’s sermon on March 18, he reflected on the story of some Greeks coming to see Jesus. They wanted to know more about him and what he was all about. Which raises the question, how do we help people see Jesus?

The Transition Team is trying to help answer that question on behalf of our congregation.

They are putting in a lot of hours to formulate answers to the following questions:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What is important right now?
  6. Who must do what?

They’re not done yet, but Pastor John shared some of their ideas in his message. Listen to it for more:

What will St. John’s look like going forward?

Pastor John Allen
Interim Pastor

I’ve heard it recognized a number of times, “this interim is different than the others before it.” I hope it is, because that difference is intentional. When it is complete, we will have spent about eighteen months reflecting, analyzing, dreaming, and visioning. Of course, the main expectation is that you will call a new “settled” senior pastor, and possibly an additional pastor after that. But, what else should we expect for the future. What difference will you see for the effort made?

There is a book called The Unstuck Church. In it, author Tony Morgan describes stages of growth and decline that congregations experience in their natural lives. The title implies that congregations or ministries can get stuck in any of those stages, and it takes vision, insight, and perseverance to move from one stage to a healthier one. Morgan labels the seven stages: Launch, Momentum Growth, Strategic Growth, Sustained Health, Maintenance, Preservation, and Life-Support. Honestly speaking, St. John’s most likely fits the description of “Maintenance,” meaning we’re working pretty hard just to keep the status quo.

Our vision for the future, however, borrows some of the best attributes of a momentum growth congregation, to jump start a path to sustained health. Imagine this being the description of St. John’s ministry:

  1. We will have an “outward focus.” That is, we will not be “unashamed about [our] desire to reach people for Jesus.”
  2. “There’s a lot of buzz.” We will be known in the community by word-of-mouth.
  3. “Creativity and innovation (therefore change) will be expected.” We will be “risk driven.”
  4. We will be “driven by personality.” For better or worse, the ministry will often be identified with the senior pastor, but we will “multiply the voices and personalities that carry out the ministry strategy.”
  5. We will “begin to focus [our] vision.” We will “mark out the specifics of where [our] ministries are heading in the future. There will always be “a new mountain the ministry team intends to take on.”
  6. We will “begin to give leadership away.” We will “recognize the one person can’t call all the shots.” We will seek out and raise up leaders within the congregation.

This sounds a lot like what your congregation council and transition team have been working on. It describes an exciting future, “unstuck” and moving forward. This is my hope and prayer for you. May God so inspire and ordain it.

God Bless.

Transition Forums

The Transition Team will be hosting two open forums in the Fireside Room about the “Trends Shaping the Future of St Johns.”

  • Wednesday, February 7 from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm
  • Sunday, February 11 from 9:00 am to 10:00 am

We’ll be discussing the following chart, which was originally presented at the annual meeting:

What did you say in the transition activity?

At the annual meeting, the Transition Team shared what they learned from the activity the congregation went through in November. The team worked hard to compile everything that YOU, the members of the congregation told them without interpreting it yet. The next step will including interpreting the information and determining, “What does this mean?”

Much of the information they shared can be found in the report below:

What we learned from the transition activity

A Temple Talk by Jen Smith on January 7 & 10.

The transition team has been busy over the past 8 months. We have met 2 hours a week most weeks (including the summer and busy month of December). Most recently we met 4 separate times to process the information collected from the “game board” activity. We had over 300 people participate in this activity helping us understand who we are and where we are going as a congregation.

“Gameboard”

  • Nearly 300 participants.
  • Rich dialogue has been generate and should continue.
  • This activity was about more than the answers written on the board, it was also about the discussions it has generated.
  • Conversations need to continue. This is where the work continues giving us direction and also validating where we are.

History:

We have a rich history which we are proud of. Of particular note is that MANY of them touched upon the importance of relationships. These relationships are instrumental in everything we do within our wall, through service and community. A wide variety of favorite memories were identified:

  • worship experiences
  • youth offerings
  • relationships
  • service opportunities

Something for Everyone:

We asked what makes St. John’s unique. In particular the response that there is something for everyone stood out. There is something for everyone. And if there isn’t, we want and need to hear about. We want St. John’s to be something to everyone. Lutefisk isn’t just about the fish. It is the spirit or everyone working together. Everyone makes the donation they are asked of in order to provide a meal and experience for the community. We open out doors and show them our best. What if this is what everyone saw every time they entered our building?

  • Over 40 programs were identified as important
  • Oasis Afterschool, including the big blue bus picking up kids at school
  • CKP
  • Variety of programs
  • Lutefisk

Worship:

  • Our worship experiences are diverse and dynamic
  • Identified ways to enrich what we have
  • Looked at gaps
  • We are blessed with excellent musicians vocally and instrumentally – we need to utilized them more

Faith Formation:

  • We need to attract, train and support our volunteers. Our programming is only as good as our volunteers
  • Offer a variety of experiences
  • Find ways to incorporate technology
  • Enhance bible study offering for all ages
  • Celebrate our unique offerings such as Oasis

Leadership:

We formed this transition team to look into who we are as a congregation. After 8 months and several interactions with the congregation including discussions during coffee  and on Wednesday evenings, our open forum, and information gathered from the game board; one thing in apparent. Leadership is not the responsibility of the lead pastor alone. We need to look to our council, our lay leaders, our programming staff, and each other. We have done great work to gather a sense of who we are. This information has been compiled and can be handed off to each of our commissions. We have the information necessary to complete a rich and accurate site profile. We do know that what we need is someone engaged, visible and personable. Again, that someone isn’t just the lead pastor, that is each of us.

Thank you for helping with the transition activity

Jen Smith
smithfamilyrks@gmail.com

Temple Talk by Jen Smith

This week we lit an advent candle of Hope. We are hopeful for so many things in our lives as individuals, Christians and as members of St. Johns. The transition team has spent several hours reflecting on the data we collected from over 300 individuals through our game board activity. We appreciate the time you each took to partake in helping us realize the hope we have as a congregation of St. Johns.

As in Advent, we are patient in knowing careful reflection, prayer and listening will lead us in the right direction. I am confident that the enthusiasm, criticisms and dedication of all of you will help us as the transition team define who we are and how we continue to move forward. This is evident in the words and ideas that have been shared. We continue to discuss all that has been gathered both formally and informally and cannot wait to share with you what we have found. At the very basic level what we have seen so far is that we are a congregation ready to engage in forward progress. We ask for your prayers as we translate the words, ideas and suggestions you have shared.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11

Participate in the Transition

After months of dialogue within our group, the Transition Team has come to a place where we can comfortably and confidently engage in productive, informed conversations with the greater congregation. The most effective way to develop a clear sense of identity, purpose, and mission, as well as build consensus and commitments for the future, is to draw from continued input that represents the whole congregation.

October activity included a well-attended Sunday forum in the Fireside Room, a “Keep, Change, Add” exercise that elicited some wonderfully creative and insightful responses, and a meeting with Bishop Delzer that was incredibly informative and served as a valuable opportunity to grow a healthy understanding and linkage to the Southeastern Minnesota Synod (Missed it? Watch or listen at www.stjohnskasson.org/bishop-town-hall).

In November, we are excited to introduce an interactive game board activity that has been created to deepen and widen congregational conversations. We will be offering several opportunities for Transition Team-led participation (see below). We ask that you make a special effort to be part of one of these opportunities. We can also provide your group (commission, family, friends) the materials to self-facilitate the activity.

We thank you for taking the time to talk with us and with each other and for praying for our congregation. God continues to lead us into a very exciting and promising future!

Interactive Game Board Dates:

11/7 – 6:30 pm – Commission and Circles
11/12 – 9:10 am – Coffee Hour and Sunday Confirmation
11/15 – 4:45 pm – Wednesday Club 56
11/15 – 5:30 pm – Families with Free Pizza provided!

Watch the Bishop’s Town Hall

On October 11, 2017 our Southeastern Minnesota Synod bishop, Steven Delzer, addressed a packed Fellowship Hall to say more about the synod, how we fit into it, what to expect from the bishop’s office as we continue through our transition process, how the bishop’s office helps support congregations and leaders, and more!

If you missed it, watch online:

 

Expect Positive Change

Pastor John Allen
Interim Pastor

I wish all of you could know the amount and quality of time and work your Transition Team has put in, and how rewarding it has been. The Transition Team is a group of eight specially chosen members, plus myself. They were assigned by the congregation council with five developmental tasks to help our congregation renew, refresh and plan for the future. We are intentionally taking some significant time to assure that your congregation has a clear sense of mission and direction, in order to attract and call a pastor with the commensurate skills to lead you into to the future to which God is calling you.

Here are the five developmental tasks:

  1. Come to terms with the past of the congregation
  2. Discover a new identity
  3. Enable positive change in leadership
  4. Renew relationships with the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and other expressions of the wider Church of Christ.
  5. Commit to new directions in ministry.

The team members have, so far, put in more than two hours each week, reading, thinking, discussing, and wrestling with the tasks listed above. We only wish you could know how enlightening and rewarding it has been for us as a group. And there is so much more to do.

Right now the team is looking for effective and creative ways to engage you in that same conversation. The team is now planning small forums for as many groups as they can gather to share what they have learned and also listen to your reflections. Small blue flyer is available at worship services and at the welcome desk with very general bullet statements, to invite you into the conversation.Please take advantage of these group meetings, and invite team members to your groups.

Here are the names of Transition Team members:

  • Dick Buckwalter
  • Marlo Bungum
  • Madi Flickinger
  • Nancy Johnson
  • Jen Smith
  • Tim Tjosaas
  • Jodie Tvedt
  • Ariana Wright
  • Pastor John Allen

Participate on October 11

Our Southeastern Minnesota Synod’s bishop, Steven Delzer, will join us on†Wednesday, October 11. He will preach in worship and lead us in a town-hall-style meeting afterward. We will hear more about how the synod will help guide us on this process of defining our congregation and seeking out our future leaders. It is a great time to ask questions about the coming months.

Starting points for conversation

This is a temple talk from September 17 & September 20.

My name is Marlo Bungum, and I am one of the 9 members of the Transition Team that has been meeting almost weekly since the middle of May. We have been trying to update you along the way as to our progress, but we know that many of you still have lots of questions. As our team has learned, the intentional interim under which we currently operate is much different than interims we have experienced in the past. An intentional interim requires a greater period of consideration. It includes assessment, skills training, managing change, and guiding us, as a congregation, in our understanding and commitment to our mission, all while keeping St. John’s focus in tact.

We assure you that Pastor John has done an amazing job in leading not only our team, but also the council and staff, in some very productive reflection, discernment, and learning to insure that he leaves St. John’s poised to continue and grow in achieving our God-given potential in all areas of ministry and programming. While I have always felt great pride and passion for St. John’s and all that we offer, I am personally feeling more excited and hopeful for the future of St. John’s than I have in a long time. I believe that the Transition Team has finally reached a point in our work that we can more actively begin sharing that excitement with the greater congregation as we continue to gather your input and join in conversations with each of you.

We have created a working document based on our efforts so far to help start those conversations. It may not look like much! But it is based on the information we have gathered/discovered so far about our history, both recent and past, the discussions we have had with staff and other congregation members, and the learning we have done in regards to church leadership and expectations, and where our church size fits and best operates within these models. This document is intended to be modified as we engage in discussions on a larger scale. It has purposely been left concise and open ended. While we have gotten the ball rolling, it is up to all of us to lean into the future and guide St. John’s next steps and plans.

We not only invite you to visit our table at the ministry fair today between services to pick up a “rack card” outlining these bulleted items and meet the members of the Transition Team, but also to join us next Sunday, September 24, in between services in the Fireside Room. We will be hosting one of several discussion forums. Don’t worry! We will set up coffee and goodies in there as well. It is our hope that this will give you an opportunity to continue or begin conversations that are important to you as St. John’s moves forward. We look forward to visiting with you!

Patience during the transition process

This was a temple talk from August 27, 2017.

Good morning

I am Ariana Wright and I am a member of the transition team here at St. John’s Lutheran Church

As our transition team has been visiting with many members of the congregation there’s a question that keeps surfacing this morning I’d like to talk about an address that question. So what we have been hearing is that there are questions about being able to find quality pastor candidates if we don’t get started on the call process quickly.

I want to share with you two reasons why we should be patient and confident with the process were using to prepare for our next call as a congregation.

When talking with Pastor about these worries or concerns around about pastor shortage I was pleased to hear his quick response. He said with our programming and vibrant congregation and community we would be a draw for Pastor candidates and will not have any trouble finding a fit. We all know what a great congregation we are but it’s great to hear Pastor Allen’s impression is the same as he has spent the last six months getting to know our congregation.

So why are we taking a little bit of time? Although we will be able to find great candidates when we do begin the call process it’s important for us as a congregation to be as healthy as we possibly can with a clear focus and direction of our mission moving to the future before the call process begins. When we take our time to do that we then move into the call process with a better opportunity to find a leadership match and our congregation is that much more of a draw for candidates. Is there a pastor shortage? There very well might be. Although I have to be honest, as a Luther College grad and former Good Earth Village Bible Camp counselor, I have more pastor Facebook friends than any other profession! Is the work that we’re doing going to help us overcome that obstacle in the future? Absolutely.

I am so pleased to be working as a part of the transition team and having the opportunity to bridge our rich and proud heritage at St. John’s Lutheran Church with the exciting mission we have in our future. Thank you.