Church, on purpose

St. Paul’s develops purpose statement to focus ministry and encourage mission.

On the morning of Saturday, October 11th, members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church gathered together to develop a purpose statement for St. Paul’s. The workshop was led by Rev. Nancy Nyland, Director of Evangelical Mission in the Indiana-Kentucky Synod.

With doughnuts and a lot of coffee, members delved into Scripture and discussed what it calls us to be as a church, and ways in which we have witnessed that Living Word working through St. Paul’s ministry in the past.

By the end of the morning, those sturdy souls had developed the following purpose statement for St. Paul’s:

“To Listen, care, go, & connect,

to God, one another, and the world.”

At its next meeting, the council discussed & affirmed this purpose statement.  It will be brought forward to the congregation for affirmation at the Annual Meeting (on December 7th), but we also want to encourage conversation about the purpose statement now.

What do you think:

  • What in this statement resonates with your experience of God working in and through St. Paul’s?
  • How do you imagine the ministry of St. Paul’s being reshaped by this purpose?
  • What does this statement call St. Paul’s to let go of?
  • What new things does this statement call St. Paul’s to begin?

Listening Learnings

 

thanksThank you to everyone who took a little time to sit down and share their stories during our Listening Campaign this past summer!  Having been the first experience of a listening campaign as a congregation, I wanted to offer some of my observations and highlight some of the things the Listening Team identified as learnings in this process.

Background

As part of St. Paul’s continual mission discernment, each year three “priorities” are identified as focus areas of St. Paul’s Mission.  These three priorities are used to shape the way our council, ministries and members are live out that mission together through ministry programs, worship, and events.  This past year, the identified priorities were: Faithful in Worship, Growing as Stewards, and Continued Mission Discernment (Read more about these priorities here).

The second priority, Growing as Stewards, includes a special focus on building relationships.  This emerged from a number of experiences over the past three years which highlighted that (1) active participants in St. Paul’s ministries do not know one another as well as we typically assume, and, (2) that our relationships are one of the most valuable things we steward as Christians.

This past summer, the focus on building relationships was lived out through St. Paul’s Listening Campaign.  The campaign launched in March when members of St. Paul’s were trained in the art of one-to-one conversation and formed a “Listening Team.”  Over the next several weeks, this team led the listening process by planning, executing, and debriefing conversations.  A final report of this phase of listening was reported to the congregation on Pentecost.

Reflections on the processListenLearning

The best part of the campaign for the Listening Team was the opportunity to become more familiar with other members of the congregation and hear their stories.  It takes a certain amount of courage to even ask people to sit down together.  But overall, the team found that people were excited and willing to talk and swap stories.

The goals of the listening campaign were fourfold:

  1.  Establish or deepen relationships
  2.  Learn what people value, who they really are, and how their life experiences have shaped them
  3.  Find commonly held interests, goals or values
  4.  Through attentiveness and inquiry, gain new clarity about one’s self and self-appreciation

There were times during the campaign that the team felt a lack of clarity around the goals.  Early on, the team had decided not to “bring up” St. Paul’s unless the other person mentioned it first.  As the campaign went on, members of the team expressed desire to apply a more focused questioning around a particular issue.  This created a real tension for the team – how to discover the common pressures and passions of members without trying to lead the conversation to a particular end through a set of predetermined questions.

This tension was probably most felt when the team met to reflect on their experiences and what they heard in order to prepare for the report to the congregation.  In preparing for the report to the congregation, the team expressed that they did not get a sense of closure from the first phase.  There was still a lot to debrief and unpack, but the short amount of time for the turnaround did not allow for enough conversation.

CHSThe team desperately desired to come up with a report and recommendation that would convey the richness and depth of all that they had heard.  Following the Pentecost report, the general consensus of the team was that the identified action steps did not seem to adequately address the pressures and passions that were uncovered in the conversations.  Additionally, the action steps did not appear to contain any “risk,” which may have contributed to a lack of enthusiasm.

Going forward 

When the team discussed how best to move forward, a key component was finding ways to create opportunities for people to share their stories and build relationships with others.  The Table Talks will be helpful in this regard, but there will likely be more relational work to be done in the months ahead.

engaged-listeningIn identifying their own “next steps,” the Listening Team decided to focus on supporting the work of the grant team through one-on-one conversations with applicants/references and hosting “research meetings” to build relationship with others actively serving the community, learn what motivates them and they got to this point in their life, and discover where their goals and values overlap with St. Paul’s.

 

If you are curious about the listening campaign, wonder why St. Paul’s is doing this, or are interested in being a leader in the process, send a note to Pastor Joshua, who would love the opportunity to sit down together and discuss these things further.

Sunday, Sunday, Sundae!

sundae

Join us September 8th for

Sunday School.  We’ll gather together in the sanctuary at 9:15 a.m. to kick off the fall Sunday School program!

Sunday worship.  We’ll meet back in the sanctuary at 10:30 a.m. to celebrate the Word with bread & wine!

Sundae Social.  Bring your favorite topping (enough to share)!owing service, and plan to stick around after service for sundaes and conversation about St. Paul’s being a part of a new shared ministry!

And share this with others on Facebook!

2013 Mission Priorities

At its last meeting, the church council identified three “Mission Priorities” for St. Paul’s next year.  These priorities (discussed below) have given shape to the 2013 budget proposal that will be discussed at the annual meeting on December 9th.   An intentional focusing on building relationships, both new and old, underlies all three priorities.  Through building relationships, we not only grow as faithful followers of Christ, but take part in building the kingdom of God a little closer to home.

Faithful in Worship

Since worship occupies a central place in our identity as a community of faith, council leaders discussed ways to encourage regular worship attendance among members, extending personal invitations to those without a church home, and building relationships with those who come to worship on Sunday morning.

Part of this includes continuing to make opportunities to serve in worship (as Assisting Minister, Reader, etc) more available and for those who regularly fill these roles to intentionally invite others to step into these roles.  And this includes an emphasis on making worship more accessible to families by finding creative ways for children to actively participate in worship and providing more options for parents, like nursery care.

We will also proclaim God’s love through the Art of the Passion. Last year, the exhibit reached over 350 people, many of whom do not regularly attend church.  In 2013, we hope to find ways to improve and expand the exhibit, so that the good news may be extended even further into the world.

Growing as Stewards

The second  priority is that our members and regular attenders continue to grow as stewards of the gifts that God has given them.  Our past stewardship campaigns and cottage meetings have laid a great foundation for understanding our role as stewards of God’s gifts.  The particular ways our mission is lived out is shaped by the individual gifts of the people who recognize how God has blessed them and are eager (even if sometimes reluctant) to share it with the world.  Throughout the year, we will be using the wholeness wheel to identify and encourage each other to grow as stewards of God’s gifts.

This process will begin early in the year, with an exciting chance for everyone to get involved through a congregational listening campaign.  A handful of people will be trained in the art of one-to-one conversations and then will schedule times to interview other members in a mutual discovery of passions & gifts.

Continued Mission Discernment

The third priority identified is that St. Paul’s continues the process of mission discernment.  In the past, churches have engaged in this kind of visioning once in a blue moon – and more often than not, it involved some kind of building campaign.  However, mission is a ongoing process of discernment.

Building upon the discernment done in 2010, we’ll continue working with the Indiana-Kentucky Synod’s Latino Strategy Board and implementing the partnership objectives to discover ways that we can overcome cultural boundaries in our community and become a community that truly shares God’s love with all people.

A big part of discernment is listening.  So once our congregational listening campaign is completed, we’ll turn it outwards, inviting more members to be trained and listening to those in the community who are not participants at St. Paul’s.  All of this will come together at our Triennial Mission Discernment Retreat, where participants at St. Paul’s will have the opportunity to select and award a grant to a local agency with whom we would like to work together to make God’s love known in our community.

 

Through focusing time and resources on these priorities, St. Paul’s will continue to grow as vital ministry in our community.  There is much to be excited about in the coming year and a lot of ways to be involved.  No matter how young or old, near or far, quiet or boisterous you may be, there is a place for you.   There will be a chance to discuss these priorities and share your ideas at the congregational meeting and weeks following.

In the meantime, keep watching announcements in church or on Facebook; talk about it with others and ask a lot of questions; share it with God in prayer; think about what part you a most interested or gifted for – and together we’ll continue to share and proclaim the love of God, while growing in faith as followers of Christ.

The 2012-2013 Congregational Meeting will be held on Sunday, December 9th following worship.

 

Going the extra mile

On June 24, folks from St. Paul’s hit the pavement to intentionally engage the community by walking its streets.

For 12 weeks over the summer, 37 walkers covered more than 147 miles of sidewalks, trails, roads, and alleys, paying close attention to what they saw, heard, and experienced. They were looking specifically for ways at which God is already at work in the world around us.

Sometimes new sidewalks the city provided easy walking, but other times the sidewalks ended or were in disrepair. Many of the neighborhoods contained a variety of single-family and multi-family homes – some needing a little TLC, but many in good condition and under great care.

 

Near the center of the city, small businesses (a few just opening) were contained in houses amidst residential homes.  Of particular interest was the old church building on John & Gentry which has since been converted into a residence.

Walkers didn’t notice or interact much with others for the first few weeks when temperatures reached over 100 degrees.  As the heat began to break, children emerged to play on the sidewalks and ride their bikes down side streets followed by people relaxing on their porches and working in their yards.

For those who didn’t feel physically up for a walk (especially given the high heat!), St. Paul’s partnered with the Paul Phillippe Center to provide a way for them to participate.  The ride-along gave participants a way to see a lot of the city and surrounding areas, guided by a very knowledgeable driver.

During the campaign, participants came up with a few more creative ways to engage the community.  As a way to celebrate the conclusion of the campaign, walkers invited local food industries to join a celebratory meal on Sunday, September 23rd.  The lunch featured locally produced & distributed foods from Schoup’s Country Foods, Frito-Lay, Glover’s Ice Cream, Zachary’s Candy, and Margarita’s Pupusería.

Walkers also wanted to find a way to complement our listening with a way to serve the poor.  So, on August 5th, St. Paul’s began collecting shoes for the shoe-less.  Two large boxes were placed in the narthex outside of the sanctuary and people were asked to search their closet for unused shoes or bring in a pair of new shoes.    Slowly, the boxes began to fill up – and then overflow!   In total, over 180 pairs of shoes were blessed and sent on their way to be distributed by Art for Humanity!  

Overall, the walkers’ response to the walk was one of surprising hope.  We discovered a number of “leads” and “interesting guesses” about where this experience will take St. Paul’s into the future.   The observations made during the walks will help give shape our future engagements, like the one-to-one listening campaign in 2013.  Without question, St. Paul’s is beginning to see itself as part of the community here in Clinton county;  but what we’ve witnessed walking the streets, collecting shoes, and inviting neighbors to share a meal, has helped us see ourselves as part of something even larger – God’s mission in the world, active and alive in our small corner of the world.

Mission

St. Paul’s Mission Statement:
We are called to accept God’s love,
proclaim and share that love with all people,
while growing in faith as followers of Christ.