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What if you put God in charge of everything?

Pastor Dave Efflandt
Lead Pastor

Jesus said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs.”
(Mark 4:30-32)

We’ve been spending these past few weeks learning what it means to be good stewards of all God has given us. It has been an uplifting experience indeed! Because we’ve been talking about stewardship of time and talents, as well as finances, I thought I would offer this information about our current giving. These are from St. John’s August financials:

Year to Date Giving Units
$0 975
$1-$50 45
$51-$150 53
$151-$250 37
$251-$450 36
$451-$520 54
$521-$800 36
$801-$1,040 28
$1,041-$1,300 25
$1,301-$2,300 24
$2,301-$5,200 26
$6,000-$12,000 6

Total number of giving units at SJK = 1,425
Total giving from Tithe.ly: approx. $40,000
The total number of giving units on Tithe.ly = 80
The total number of recurring giving units on Tithe.ly = 42

Jesus says that we’re to scatter our faith like seeds on the soil. And, even if it seems like our faith is the size of a mustard seed, God will still go to work, bringing about the biggest harvest from the smallest of seeds. We don’t know how. It’s truly a mystery. But faith gets its greatest opportunity to grow in that mystery.

What would it be like you put God in charge of everything in your life? How might this change your outlook on sharing your gifts, your time and your finances? Would you hear God encouraging you to give up a little more time each week for worship or engaging in outreach ministry? Would you hear God directing you to share your talents on a ministry in the congregation? Would you feel God leading you to give a little more each week? What would it be like if, in that first category of givers, even half gave just $5 per month on a regular basis? What about $10? Even the smallest of gifts, given generously, can make a huge difference! And you can do just that in our Stewardship Bucket Challenge through November 3, either in the offering plate or through Tithe.ly (download the Tithe.ly app or at stjohnskasson.org/giving).

Join me in giving thanks for God’s amazing providence and abundant gifts. Let’s continue to step out together on this path of faith, and see where God is leading! Amen.

Discussions on being faithful with what God has given us

Pastor Dave Efflandt
Lead Pastor

Greetings everyone! I hope that you had a wonderful summer, and that this finds you well-rested and ready to make our way into the program year!

As the program year gets started, I’d like to personally invite you to be a part of an important conversation we are having here at St. John’s: a conversation about stewardship. Over the course of eight weeks, from September 8 – October 27, we will explore what scripture teaches us about being faithful stewards of everything in our lives. We will also welcome the words of Mark Allan Powell to partner with us on this journey, through his book Giving to God; The Bible’s Good News about Living a Generous Life. Discussions for this series will take place in the Fireside Room between services on Sunday morning and after worship on Wednesday evenings. Listed below are the dates and topics we will explore.

Each week during worship, we have invited a member of our congregation to share their stewardship story with us right before the offering. I am certain that we will be blessed by their stories and inspired by God’s faithfulness at work in their lives.
Come, join us as we dive deeply into what it means to be called as faithful stewards of all that God has given us.

Stewardship Discussion Schedule

Date Theme
Sun, Sept 8
Wed, Sept 11
Belonging to God
1 Corinthians 3:21-23
Sun, Sept 15
Wed, Sept 18
Stewardship as an Act of Worship
1 Chronicles 29:14
Sun, Sept 22
Wed, Sept 25
Stewardship as an Act of Faith
1 Corinthians 4:1
Sun, Sept 29
Wed, Oct 2
Stewardship as a Spiritual Discipline
Matthew 6:21
Sun, Oct 6
Wed, Oct 9
Stewardship as Faithful Living & Giving
Acts 20:35
Sun, Oct 13
Wed, Oct 16
Stewardship as Support & Sacrifice
2 Corinthians 9:7
Sun, Oct 20
Wed, Oct 23
Financial Stewardship: How Much is Enough?
Psalm 116:12
Sun, Oct 27
Wed, Oct 30
Make a Stewardship Pledge

Called to represent God in our world

Pastor Dave Efflandt
Lead Pastor

What passages from Scripture have the greatest influence on your walk of faith? One of my favorites is 2 Corinthians 5:13-20. It gets to the very essence of how we’re meant to see the world, and then, how we’re called to engage it. Really, it all comes down to an understanding of both who and whose we are: children of God.

So, who am I? The answer begins by remembering that I was created by God in His image, to care for this creation and everything in it. I was created to worship God, and Him alone. And yet, I am a descendant of Adam and Eve, and therefore, I am also a sinner. We all are. But then I read verse 14, and I’m reminded that God sent Jesus to die for us all; taking all our sin to the cross with him, dying with it on the cross, thereby mending our relationship with God. I am someone worthy of God’s love in Christ.

So, how is this supposed to help me live my life? The answer, though simple, isn’t the easiest thing to do. Paul says we’re to see in others the same need that we had for God’s grace; to recognize their worthiness of God’s grace. We’re to see ourselves in the other. I am someone worthy of God’s love, and so are you.

And, because we have received forgiveness and the reconciliation that it has worked in our relationship with God, we are to do our best to represent God to the world in the same way. We are to use this as a guide when it comes to all our relationships; especially the broken ones. We are called to be the bearers of this grace which brings reconciliation as a sign of God’s kingdom come near.

Exploring our faith together

Pastor Dave Efflandt
Lead Pastor

Greetings everyone! I hope this message finds you well, and that your summer is off to a great start!

Over the past month, I’ve been spending time with many of you at our table talk conversations, learning about you and your families, hearing some of your cherished stories about St. John’s, and also dreaming with you about what possibilities await our congregation out there in the future. It has been so uplifting to share this holy space with you, gathered in fellowship with God in our midst. (There are still more times available—sign up on the board in the Narthex, right inside the main doors.)

From those conversations, I’ve been reflecting a great deal on how we, as people of faith, navigate a world that often doesn’t provide us with easy decisions or clear answers. In short, I’ve been pondering how we remain faithful during times of doubt, fear, uncertainty, confusion, and grief. And what a better place to engage and explore those difficult questions than with each other, gathered together worship on Wednesday evenings. We will be utilizing the book series: Can I Ask That? from the Sticky Faith Curriculum to help us on our journey. Take a look at the subjects below, and come join us as often as you are able:

  • June 5: Can I Trust the Bible? Does the Bible Contradict Itself?
  • June 12: Does God Discriminate Against Women?
  • June 19: Can I be a Christian and Believe in Evolution?
  • June 26: VBS Family Fun Night
  • July 10: Is Jesus Really the Only Way to God?
  • July 17: Does God Test People in Their Faith?
  • July 24: Does God Endorse Violence?
  • July 31: How Can I Follow a God Who Would Let Christians Do Such Bad Things?
  • August 7: Is it Wrong to Doubt God?
  • August 14: Is Hell Real? How Could God Send Someone There?
  • August 21: Can I Do Something So Bad God Won’t Forgive Me?
  • August 28: Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
  • September 4: Is Sex Outside Marriage Wrong?

May God continue to bless your walk of faith, encouraging you to ask the difficult questions, to be comfortable with the uncertainty, and courageous as you face the mysteries of life. Amen.

Let’s build on our ministry together

Pastor Dave Efflandt
Lead Pastor

Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

We have gathered together as Church under this truth since the beginning, celebrating what God has done for us in Christ, overcoming death and the grave, working forgiveness and life for us all.

And, it’s this very truth that drives us out into the world; sent forth by Jesus to let the world know what God is up to in this place, as we love others as we have been loved first.

And you know what the funny thing is? Every individual church throughout the world expresses this love in so many ways, and that’s what I’d like to let you know about this month, as we continue making our way forward in ministry together.

Here are a couple of ways that you can be a part of things in the months ahead:

Table Talks.

I’ve gotten to know a small group of folks here in my first couple of months, but what I’d really like to do is to get to know this congregation and so many more of you in the months ahead. So, I’m opening up the calendar for you to come in, spend an hour or so with me, thinking about your own gifts for ministry, sharing your thoughts and experiences about our church, and introducing yourself and your family. You can sign up in the Welcome Center. We have morning, afternoon, and evening times available, as well as couple of Sunday morning times after fellowship, so hopefully you can find a time that works for you.

Welcoming New Members.

Whether you’re brand new, or you’ve been here for a while but just haven’t made it official, please come and let us welcome you into our fellowship here at St. John’s. Here are the dates:

  • New member “class”: Sunday, May 5, at 11:30 am in the Fireside Room. Lunch will be served
  • New members received: Wednesday worship on May 8, at 6:30 pm and Sunday worship on May 12 at both services

I am looking forward to getting to know you even better over the next couple of months. Please continue to pray for God to encourage you to use your gifts in the life and ministries of our church, and to be good stewards of all that God has given you. See you soon!

God’s love is for everyone to experience and share

Pastor David Efflandt

Each year in Lent, I am thankful for the opportunity to think deeply about my relationships, both with others and with God. This year I am finding myself keenly aware of this: all of us need to experience the nearness of God. When I look out at the landscape of my own relationships, I can see those mountaintops and valleys of my faith journey, where I have felt very close to or very far from God’s presence. I have often felt closest to God through the love shared by friends or family, or in worship. It is ironic, though, that through the words and deeds of these same people, I have also experienced what felt at the time like the complete and total absence of God.

This leads to what is a difficult reality to encounter: our relationships are not perfect because we too are not perfect. No matter how hard we try, we cannot live or speak perfectly in our lives of faith. Nobody can. And yet, even as we come face to face with this truth, we are also welcomed into the full knowledge of who we truly are: while we are indeed broken people, we are also people who have been made whole through the love of God in Christ. All of us.

How might this help us in our relationship between God and others? Plant this truth deeply in your hearts: there is nothing in this world that can stop God from loving you. Nothing. Let it blossom into a harvest of God’s faithfulness in your words and deeds. Remember God’s patience, kindness, compassion, and steadfast love given without strings attached, and give it away in the exact same way in all your relationships. In this way, you will help others experience the nearness of God.

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.

Pastor Dave Efflandt to start at St. John’s February 18

St. John’s is excitedly awaiting the arrival of Pastor Dave Efflandt, the next Lead Pastor of the congregation. He was approved by a vote of the congregation on January 6 after a thorough interview process by the St. John’s Call Committee and approval by the Congregational Council.

Pastor Dave currently leaves in Northwood, Iowa, with his wife (Sarah), two children (Austin, 16, and Bella, 15), and mother-in-law (Maryell). He is the pastor to Bethlehem and Deer Creek Valley Lutheran Churches in Glenville, Minn. Please keep those congregations in your prayers – as excited as we are to welcome Pastor Dave, they are facing losing a beloved pastor!
The Glenville congregations are his first call as an ordained pastor. Early in his career he managed restaurants and taught band in the Twin Cities, and later he and Sarah, moved to California where he continued teaching middle school band and working as a church music minister.

In 2011, after feeling a calling to ordained ministry, the Efflandt family moved to Iowa where he began studies at Wartburg Theological Seminary. He was called to Bethlehem and Deer Creek Valley in 2015.

During his time in the Southeastern Minnesota Synod he has been active on the synod level including Committee to Elect a Bishop (current), Synod Assembly planning team, Minnesota Technology of Participation, mentor for first call pastors, and Power and Boundaries Facilitator.

According to his references, Pastor Dave:

  • “Loves his people”
  • “Works well with Staff”
  • “Previous life experience is invaluable”
  • “He is out in the community”
  • “Awesome”
  • “Not an ivory tower pastor”
  • “Very wise”
  • “His life experience strengthens his preaching”
  • “Strong leader”

As he focuses on the final days of his time in Glenville, Pastor Dave took the time to share:

People have been telling me what an amazing congregation St. John’s is, and I am so looking forward to getting to know you all in person. Whether in ministry, during worship, working alongside staff, or in fellowship, I look forward to hearing your stories of what it means to be church, to hear about your hopes and dreams for future ministry together, and to be a part of such a vibrant and growing community of faith. Thanks be to God for the ministry you have been a part of in the past, and for allowing our paths to cross for ministry together in the future. See you soon!

Plan to be at worship Sunday, March 3 as we formally install Pastor Dave!