Foundations of faith

Pastor Dave Efflandt
Lead Pastor

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. (1Cor 3:10-11, NRSV)

Grace and peace to you all! I am so excited to finally be here with you, to accompany you on this sacred path of faith, to encourage you through the proclamation of the Gospel, to provide leadership, to extend God’s peace, but most importantly, to be a fellow sojourner along the way, partnering together for ministry.

You know, this passage from Paul is fitting as we find ourselves together here, at the beginning of our time together. Paul encourages us to gives thanks for the pastoral leaders that you’ve had in the past, for their proclamation of the Gospel, and for the leading of the Holy Spirit through the mission and ministries of this church in the past. And, Paul wants us to remember that we take this precious treasure that is our faith, and do our best to nurture and care for it during our lives. Then, we find ourselves doing what our parents and grandparents have done for us: we hand this treasure along to them, and help nourish their faith as well. We take what was handed on to us, care for and build upon it the best we can, and hand it on. That is the way of the faith. It was never meant to be kept solely for ourselves. This faith has, and always will be, meant to be shared with the world.

And so, let’s step out together with this precious treasure. Let’s get out there into the community, sharing the good news of God’s love for it, and for the whole world. Let’s do our best to plant the seeds of God’s faithfulness in our homes, in our schools, in our communities, and yes, even in the places where we work. Let’s scatter the Word of God far and wide, and show the world that God is up to something amazing here in our community of faith.

God’s peace and courage to you as you do your best to take the faith handed on to you, share it with the world, and watch as God goes to work in and through you.

Thanks be to God.

Revive your soul!

This Lent we’ll revive our souls in a discussion of The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst. If you’re feeling the stress of an overwhelmed schedule and aching with the sadness of an overwhelmed soul, plan to join one of our small group discussions.

Groups will meet Thursdays at 7:00 pm, Saturdays at 10:00 am, and Sundays at 9:00 am. The study will take place March 7-April 14.

Hop on over to to sign up for the time that works best for you. We’re also looking for leaders for each time, which you can indicate right on the signup.

True disciples

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

Our western idea of faith as cushioned pews and convenient sacrifice flies right in the face of what Jesus called us to. It’s in Luke 9:23-24: “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” To which you can almost hear someone saying, “In that case, I think I’d rather run my own life. It sounds like there’s too much to lose in following Jesus.” Well, you need to listen to Jesus’ startling equation, “For whoever wants to save His life (or hang onto his life) will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Hang onto your life, you lose it. Give it away and you find it.

Maybe you’ve tried to discount Christianity. It’s very popular. Of course its only a pale shadow of the disciple Christianity Jesus calls us to. You go to the meetings, you believe the beliefs, you give in the offerings, you sometimes read your Bible, and you pray. But it’s a surface commitment, a commitment that still leaves you in control. My guess is that discount Christianity has left you unfulfilled and unsatisfied. It can’t satisfy you. You were made to be abandoned to Jesus, taking up a cross, making choices that might cost you, building His Kingdom instead of yours, and accepting assignments from Him that go way beyond your comfort zone.

And as for “the honor and the rewards?” Jesus said that no one who sacrificed for His great adventure” will fail to receive a hundred times as much in the present age…and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30). You can’t out-give Jesus. True Christianity is expensive but it’s ultimately fulfilling and rewarding.

Jesus asks you to take your commitment to Him at a whole new level. And you can be sure the cost of not following Him is far greater than the cost of following Him. He’s waiting for your answer to His invitation. By God’s grace, your answer will be, “Jesus, I will cheerfully join you and I will partake of the dangers, difficulties, and fatigues. I anticipate the honor and the rewards.

As we are beginning a new fall season, let us encourage each other to worship regularly, pray daily, give generously, and to serve others to show our love for God and for others. There are many opportunities here at St. John’s to help you to make that commitment.

Please keep our call committee in your prayer as they are discerning to call our new senior pastor.

Prayer Stations

During Lent on Sundays and Wednesdays there will be different interactive prayer stations available for all ages to try out. There will be a variety of activities rotating during those weeks, but they will all center around the concept of spiritual practices and ways that we can take our faith into our ordinary lives. Check them out – you may find a great new way to connect with your faith!

New opportunities

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
CYF Ministry Development Director

Wow – it feels like we were just here a few months ago! Another new year, full of anticipation! Which will probably fly by 🙂

This January there are a few changes taking place for Faith Formation at St. John’s.

First – we are going to be taking a new approach to our Faith Milestones. From January through April we will be using one lesson time each month to talk about a particular building block of faith. First through fourth grade students will learn about the Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments, the Bible, and the sacrament of Holy Communion. Club 56 students will be concentrating on the Apostle’s Creed. Next year, we will implement a year-long program to delve deeper with all Preschool – 6th grades.

Second – Our confirmation large group learning times will be on Sundays 1-3 pm. During these learning opportunities, we are encouraging any and all community members to participate as well. The learning times will focus on learning the Bible and catechism. Click here for the full schedule.

Each of these new learning opportunities is meant to help you grow in your faith and build a closer relationship with God. Please join us!

Congratulations Confirmands

Lindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Director

Another group of confirmands affirmed their baptismal promises on Sunday, October 1. Twenty-six young people who said and continue to say yes to the gift that Christ bestowed on them at baptism. I am always impressed with our students of all ages, but I want to brag about this group for a moment. Four of them are teaching Sunday School/Oasis this year (not to mention that 11 of our team of volunteers this year are current confirmation students or high school students). Two of them are children’s ministry assistants on Wednesday afternoons. They are teachers, musicians, service minded, and understand what it means to care for God’s people. They have a good grasp of the gospel message of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. They are beginning to have a really strong grasp on the concept of the Trinity, and as someone who has worked with seminary students I can tell you this is not an easy thing. They hold the Bible as central to their faith, but are honest in realizing that they could do a better job of reading and studying it. In this day and age honesty when it comes to how we engage with our faith is essential. In their faith statements they wrote things like, “there is a place for us,” “God has my back,” “defined by God,” “God on my side,” and “Jesus wants us in eternal life.” These kids get it. They know what public confession of faith is for and why forgiveness is important. These kids, those who have gone before them, and those who come after them are earnest in their faith. Sometimes they just need a little help and room to grow. They need a safe space to develop and nurture their faith. Can we at St. John’s continue to give that to them? In the affirmation of baptism service, the minister asks the question of the assembled congregation, much like at a baptism service, “People of God, do you promise to support these sisters and brothers and pray for them in their life in Christ?” The response to this is simple and one that I know you will agree with me is what we all strive for, “We do, and we ask God to help and guide us.”

Look for God every day

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.


An easy way to pray & bless each day

Amanda Sabelko CYF Ministry Development Director

Amanda Sabelko
CYF Ministry Development Director

Amanda Sabelko, AIM
CYF Ministry Development Coordinator

Over the past few months Lindsay and I have been walking through the Faith 5. We’ve learning about sharing highs and lows, reading a Bible verse or story and talking about the Bible reading as it relates to our highs and lows.

This month we’ll be looking at the last two steps of Faith 5 – prayer and blessing.

Pray. Take your highs and lows to God in prayer: 1) Thank and praise Jesus for the highs; 2) Ask the Holy Spirit’s help with the lows; 3) Close in Jesus’ name.

Bless. Close your evening with a simple blessing. Trace a cross on each other’s foreheads while saying – “You are a blessed Child of God.”

Even if your family was to do these last two steps each day, imagine how it might change your perspective.  Taking our excitement and worries to God calms the soul. And the daily reminder that you belong to God can empower you and your children to live like Jesus every day!

Learn more at and on the bookmarks at the Welcome Center or in the office.


10 Minutes to Stay Connected to God

LindsayCowell2Lindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

Last month Amanda began walking us through the Faith 5 by looking closely at the first step: Share highs and lows. This month we will take a closer look at the next two steps in the Faith 5: 2. Read a Bible verse or story and 3. Talk about how the Bible reading might relate to your highs and lows.

Read. Explore the power of God’s Word. Reading Bible stories as a part of bedtime routine can enrich a child’s faith, emotional health, and spiritual imagination.

Talk. What happens when God’s Word is applied to the highs and lows of each day? What does it do to a child, a parent, a family to come together nightly seeking God’s wisdom and will?

Ten minutes feels unattainable in the midst of busy schedules. I know that in my own home trying to get ten minutes to quietly talk with my husband while wrangling a very active toddler feels practically impossible. And yet, somehow we figure out a way to at least once a week take time to do these things.

God’s place in our lives is important at every age. These steps are a simple way to help us stay connected to one another and to God.
Learn more at and on the bookmarks at the Welcome Center or in the office.

Teaching Faith at Home

LindsayCowell2Lindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

I recently attended a conference at Luther Seminary that concentrated on Martin Luther as a pastoral theologian, meaning how Luther functioned as a pastor and how he taught people about their faith. Luther was a big advocate of empowering parents to teach their children about faith. Our goal at St. John’s is similar; we want to empower families and parents to teach and learn together. Most people are only in church for two hours a week, at most, which means they need engagement with the Bible and their faith outside the church walls. Where do you start? The Faith 5 from Faith Inkubators, the curriculum that we use with our confirmation students, is an excellent starting point and can be done in your home every night, no matter your age. We will be talking more about how to share our faith and how to make these discipleship practices part of our everyday lives. For now, here is a good place to start.

  1. Share highs and lows of the day.
  2. Read a Bible verse or story.
  3. Talk about how the Bible reading might relate to your highs & lows.
  4. Pray for one another’s highs & lows.
  5. Bless one another.

Learn more at and watch for the bookmarks with the Faith 5 that we have available at St. John’s!

Lenten Devotions

Are you looking for a devotional practice during this Lenten season?

Pastor Dana sends out daily email devotions. Her theme has moved into Lent, so if you want to take part in this devotion practice, email her at to get on the list!

Also, we’ll be posting short reflections each day on Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up by text message – text “follow @stjohnskasson” without quotes to 40404 (standard text rates apply) and you’ll get all of St. John’s Tweets, including the Lenten reflections, by text. You don’t need to be a Twitter user. If you’d prefer to receive them by email, click here to sign up. Each day you’ll receive something short – a quote, an image, a song, or something else!

FAITH, The Yes of the Heart – our Epiphany Series

RandyFettPastor Randy Fett
Lead Pastor

New Year, lighter, longer days, “Epiphany.” The word means “light.” Some of my best memories of January 6, the day that we as Christians honor as the coming of the light, as Epiphany, the visit of the wise men who followed the star to Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, is when we all gathered around to toss our old Christmas trees into a big bonfire. We sang and shouted, and we prayed for God’s light, for the true light to be with us and to guide us in the New Year.

In this New Year we are going to begin our Worship reflections with the theme, “FAITH, The Yes of the Heart.” You might remember that our Fall 2015 kick-off theme for 2016 Stewardship and giving in the church is “Say Yes from the heart.” In a way this is a continuation of that. We need to keep this continually before ourselves. Epiphany is really about Jesus calling disciples. He calls each of us to faith. As we track with the story of Jesus in the gospels of the New Testament, this is the time when Jesus is developing his ministry and just getting started. We don’t have any parables as yet. It is not yet the story of Jesus’ journey to the cross and his resurrection. It is a time of newness and beginnings. He begins by calling people to faith. He calls people to follow and they leave what they are doing and follow. We should say that it is that simple and that complex. Faith is simple too.  Grace Adolphsen Brame states in the book by the same title as our sermon series in Epiphany: “Faith is not just a matter of understanding God, but of experiencing the real presence of the holy. It is not just a matter of saying what we believe, but of living what we believe, practicing what we preach. Faith is the mortar that binds us to others who have made a covenant with the same creator and parent. Faith is what empowers us to dare to share what matters most with others who are searching for meaning and purpose in their lives…Faith is what Luther called ‘the yes of the heart.’” (Faith, The Yes Of The Heart, Augsburg, 1999, p.12).

During January, in the context of worship, we will also take some time at our three worship services each week to reengage our mission, to do some check-ins with what we value most as a church, and what our strengths and challenges are as we move forward in faith together. We have put a new “Revision” team together. They will meet monthly. They will also include you, our leaders, and our staff in the formulations along the way. We will keep you posted and strive to communicate our workings with you.

Thoughts on Hope

Pastor Randy Fett Lead Pastor

Pastor Randy Fett
Lead Pastor

What is your “Hope”? In what do you place your hope? Many times we say things like I “hope” the Twins win the wild card, or I “hope” I can lose five pounds before they take the pictures, or I “hope” that I win the lottery. To use the word “hope” in that way, though, is to place our hope in something or someone that may or may not happen. The apostle Peter says in the third chapter of his letter to young Christians, “Be ready at all times to give a reckoning, an accounting, for the hope that is in you.”

We have great hope for our children. We want the best for them. We look out into the next years and we want to stand on a future filled with promise and with hope. Many times we say that the youth of today are the hope for the future. When I was growing up we tried to change this to “We are the hope for today.” Hope is basic to life. Hope is wishful thinking. It is as important to us as water is to fish, and as vital to us as electricity is to a light bulb. If we live in hope we think things will improve and we will be satisfied, but take away this hope, without this hope, we are doomed to a dark and often grim existence. A little boy said it this way, “Hope is wishing for something that you know ain’t gonna happen.” So where do we turn?

The apostle tells us to ground our hope on the solid foundation that is in Jesus Christ. All other ground is sinking sand. The prophet Jeremiah said, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Peter says, “Be sober minded.” In other words, let this biblical truth soak into your minds and let it infiltrate your being. Jesus Christ is the ground for our hope. Jesus’ death and resurrection are the sure signs that God’s hope, biblical hope, salvation in Jesus Christ, is unwavering, certain, and sure. Let this be your stay this week.

“Hope-fully,” you have had an “extraordinary summer.” I know that there are so many extraordinary things that have happened among us and in your lives this summer. Give praise to God for these. Share a story with us as to what you observed in these God moments. This summer I have hosted 12 Monday night suppers with member families. The turnout has been great. We ended each of these sessions with four questions about what families value about St. John’s: what their vision is for the future of our congregation, what their spiritual needs are, how we have helped them with these needs, and what our mission, ministry, and witness is today.

This month we turn the corner to starting up all of the programs. Thanks to the many volunteers who are stepping up to make this happen. The staff have been faithfully working behind the scenes to make sure that everything will run fine. September is the time when we step forward with our faith commitment for giving to the church in 2016. Please be attentive to these things. We count on your partnership with us.

God bless you – Pastor Randy