Thursday, July 11, 2019

St. John Ministry Update

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) How many times have you read that verse and thought “it would be a lot easier if God just told me what those plans are!” That was certainly on our minds Monday night as the council discussed plans to move forward after hearing Divinity decided not to pursue a potential merger (see blog post here). The news from Divinity brings mixed emotions for us at St. John as we consider the potential stability it may have brought for future WELS ministries in St. Paul. This also reinforces the need for a strategic plan.

The path forward...
On Monday the council decided to move forward with Phase 1 of the strategic planning process offered by Crossroads Ministry Consulting. Crossroads has a comprehensive process that starts with a congregational study on how churches can respond to today’s realities. This process concludes with a congregational decision on whether to move forward with Phases 2 - 4. More information will follow, including a date in late August or September, but we are excited to engage with Pastor Elton Stroh, of Crossroads Ministry Consulting to guide us through this process.

Many questions remain...
Still, we consider many questions, most notably the timing of extending a call to fill our pastoral vacancy. The council discussed many aspects, some of which are outlined below, but ultimately decided that we should continue to hold off on extending a call or making decisions about any of the below considerations until we have more clarity on our strategic plan. We will continue to discuss all of these moving forward and welcome your input. Below are some of the items the council discussed Monday:

  • In many ways, St. John is like a mission church, determining the best way to reach those on the east side of St. Paul. This mission first mindset and willingness to embrace change has been encouraging to see in our members.
  • The budget needs to be re-evaluated as our ministry changes. If we add a pastor to our budget, the current budget will not work long term without making budget cuts or an increase in offerings. The council did talk about what expenses could be eliminated when adding a pastor, but did not want to finalize that decision until Phase 1 of the strategic planning is completed. St. John is receiving substantial rental income from our lease with CLUES that is not included in our budget and that looks promising for the immediate future, but we don't want to rely on it to pay our expenses. 
  • The council discussed Immanuel Hmong, who is in our prayers and always considered in our planning. Specifically we discussed the potential of a merger, which is likely not an option as they are very focused on outreach in the Hmong community and the mission roles Pastor Moua serves in.
  • Our facility has outgrown our needs and consumes a lot of resources to maintain. We discussed the potential to sell the facility and refocus those resources on ministry efforts.
We know you have many questions. It’s important we take the time to prayerfully consider God’s specific calling for St. John on the east side of St. Paul. We strongly feel a strategic plan will help answer these questions. We are very much looking forward to Phase 1 of the strategic planning process. We would like your help in two areas: 
  1. Be prayerful. Pray for St. John and pray for those leading the focus areas; and
  2. Consider your talents. What talents has the Lord given to you? Are you interested in helping in any of the focus areas? Connect with us if you are interested.
In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3) 
Suggested prayer: Dear God, While we face uncertainty, I know that You have plans for us to prosper. Help me to grow as a Christian through this time of uncertainty and use my gifts to help St. John. I ask that You bless our strategic planning process. Give us the guidance and wisdom to know Your calling for us in St. Paul. Open our minds and provide us the wisdom to define a plan to reach the lost in our community and continue to grow in our faith. To You be all the praise and glory for all that you have done and will continue to do for us. Amen.

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