During our intentional interim process, we’ll work through the following steps. This is not a race! The standard timeframe is 12-18 months, but we will get through it in our own time.
- Coming to terms with history.
- Discovering a new identity.
- Negotiating shifts of power and leadership changes.
- Rethinking denominational linkages.
- Commitment to new leadership and a new future.
The St. John’s Lutheran Church Transition Team was formed in May 2017 by Interim Pastor John Allen and the congregational council to guide leadership during our intentional interim. We have spent time talking with staff, church leaders and congregation members to understand our rich history and begin to discern the future direction of our congregation.
Now is the time for conversation and discussion. The bullet points below are meant to start this dialogue with all church members. The list is not complete or “set in stone,” but is a “work in progress” we can focus on together. We invite each of you to read these items and share your thoughts. Your input will guide our next steps and future plans.
- We have a rich history we can be proud of
- We actively support a variety of ministries that benefit our local and global community
- Change is a constant
- Changes are opportunities for new ministry and growth
- Clear expectations are fundamental to good leadership
- Recent history in staff leadership demonstrated ambiguous expectations and unclear communication resulting in a rapid turnover in staff over a 10 year period
- Congregational council has changed their focus to be more strategic and visionary
- Future focused
- We have an opportunity to align pastoral leadership to the vision and direction of St John’s Lutheran Church
- Leadership development in the congregation
- Council, Staff and Transition Team are all engaged in development as leaders and connecting to our congregation
- We need YOU
- Leaning and leading into the future together
You have heard that the work of the Transition Team is coming to a close, but what comes next?
Lots of things!
But one big thing is that a Call Committee will be formed. Our Congregational President, Jen Smith, is collecting potential names. If you would like to suggest a name - your own or someone else's - contact her in person or at firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, May 8.
Once names are brought forward, a committee of up to 8 individuals will be appointed. The committee is to be a balanced representation of our congregation. Potential candidates should be committed to the future of St. John's and be able to respect the confidentiality of the process.
The future Call Committee will do its best to keep the congregation updated on their progress within their abilities to share.
The call committee has been announced. Click here for more.
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:
- Why do we exist?
- How do we behave?
- What do we do?
- How will we succeed?
- What is most important -right now?
- 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.
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:
- Why do we exist?
- How do we behave?
- What do we do?
- How will we succeed?
- What is important right now?
- 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:
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:
- We will have an “outward focus.” That is, we will not be “unashamed about [our] desire to reach people for Jesus.”
- “There’s a lot of buzz.” We will be known in the community by word-of-mouth.
- “Creativity and innovation (therefore change) will be expected.” We will be “risk driven.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.
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:
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:
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.
- 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.
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
- 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
- Variety of programs
- 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
- 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
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.
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
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!