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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.