Following Our Spirit-led Vision
From October 2016 First Word
By Jim Sturdevant, Stewardship Chair and
Pastor Peter Strommen, Executive Pastor
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
– St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12
be stressed enough. We may wish there were quick fixes and “silver bullets” out there, but at the end of the day, ministry growth that sticks comes out of sustained commitment by the whole congregation and takes time. Emerging ministry must be authentic to who and what God purposes for FLC. Furthermore, all our core ministries and key approaches to them need to be in sync.
• First Lutheran’s tradition is one of vitality and community leadership. Our First and Foremost goals are big ones, but FLC’s has embraced them before. Here are the specific priority areas for 2017.
○ Youth and family ministry, with an eye to supporting parents and developing ministry by young people as well as to and with them.
○ Volunteer development based on gifts, training, support and ministry teams.
○ Focus on ministry to, with and by Millennials.
○ Strengthened opportunities for “church within the church” i.e. friendships and small groups.
○ Strengthened leadership and administrative systems that help focus and align our efforts.
○ Purposeful and energetic downtown outreach.
○ Strong congregational support in time, talent and treasure to sustain the journey.
• Be encouraged! This is Christ’s church and He promises to be with us. Furthermore, the challenges and opportunities facing First Lutheran are similar to those facing congregations across the entire country. Some 500 years after Martin Luther’s time of great change, Western Christianity is again facing enormous societal challenges to its mission. Embracing them and moving forward is what Christ’s church has always needed to do and most often the result has been renewed vitality.
In this big picture, we see the needs, opportunity and compelling call to do more of God’s work right here! We are asking for your prayerful consideration to participate heart-fully and generously as we launch the rejuvenated First Lutheran Church! We need your volunteering attitude, your special gifts and talents, and your financial support. At the end of the day, the actual progress toward the discerned vision of FLC will come only through the widespread involvement of the whole congregation.
For some time now, we Firsters have been on a spirit-inspired adventure – a journey that is powered by the enthusiasm and prayers of hundreds of churchgoers. Throughout this strategic assessment, we’ve focused a lot on the “what” and “why” of our collective vision to revitalize and expand our ministry and outreach. Assessment results are summarized in the document called “First and Foremost” which you will find on the web at flcsf.org/strategic-plan. Now, as we plan and take important next steps, questions arise like “how do we do this?” and “what resources will it take?”
Arguably the single most important “how” of First Lutheran’s vision for ministry is God’s Spirit working in and through His PEOPLE! Our concern in this article is closely related. What will it take to FUND this vision? With our 2017 stewardship campaign beginning soon, that’s a question to which we must pay attention! Our Council recommends: 12 percent.
Why? What are the reasons for this recommended increase in funding our ministry?
• To reach our carefully discerned FLC vision, we must strengthen our staff and widen congregational involvement. While cherishing a great tradition on which to build, our congregation has identified important needs for its ministry going forward. Our church is at a critical crossroads that will define its ministry into the next decade and possibly beyond.
• Most of the increase will strengthen staff leadership in areas critical to our mission. This may seem hard to track because several recent hires fill positions previously vacated, such as parish nurse and children’s ministry. However, others such as Director of Outreach and Volunteer Ministry Development do indeed require a more intensive focus on our strategically critical goals (see First and Foremost).
• We learned from our congregational assessment that much of our ministry had been in status quo mode for quite some time. Now there is a lot to like in our status quo! But over time, we have noticed slippage in the ministry to, with, and by those in the first half of life. “Business as usual” will not address our concerns about this. We must staff for a certain degree of innovation, new learning and renewed outreach. Meaningful change however, is always more labor intensive, at least initially.
• The way forward also requires the sustained support of the whole congregation, its pastors, staff and lay leadership. This can’t
Ten Good Reasons to Support First Lutheran Church
Our renewed vision has inspired us to imagine new avenues of Christian community and outreach as we upholdour deeply cherished traditions at First Lutheran Church.
We ask for your prayerful consideration for financial support, we reflect on why such support is really important. We honor God and follow the directives of Jesus Christ to fulfill his mission on earth. We offer these reasons to support our ministry:
- God asks us to give. Our stewardship is a matter of great importance in Jesus’ teaching.
- For our own sake, each of us needs to give, as an expression of love and gratitude.
- We are accountable to Christ’s mission, including its funding.
- As we look to the future, our congregation recognizes the need to revitalize its core ministries. To do this requires increased offering support.
- Our gifts help fund a renewed priority on ministry to, with and by children, youth and their families. Passing on the faith to the next generation requires a vibrant partnership between home and church.
- Our gifts help fund incredible local, regional and international ministries of evangelism, hunger and disaster relief, community partnerships and a revived attention to our dynamic downtown. First Lutherans want to continue in our strong history of outreach ministry.
- Our gifts help fund necessary efforts in hospitality, relationships and the life-changing experience of Christian community.
- Worship is a central practice of Christ’s church and a traditional strength of this congregation. Our offerings fund this faith-forming work that centers our community of faith.
- Generosity is the lifestyle of Christians – in relationships, time, talent and treasure.
- The church is about people and our life together in Christ Jesus. Our offerings empower the leadership of pastors and staff as well as strengthen our effort to grow in the talents God has given each of us. Nothing strengthens faith and brings more lasting joy than knowing God is using you for His good purposes.
Thank you for all you do and all you mean to First Lutheran Church! We cannot accomplish what we’d like without your generous support.
My “First” hand Experience
“I’ve been helping out around First Lutheran since I was three. My mom would bring me to quilting, where I had the very important job of announcing coffee breaks. Now, many years later, I help out in other ways, such as playing guitar in the contemporary worship band, playing music at the Bazaar, and operating cameras for the media ministry. Through these opportunities, I have lots of fun and gain experience doing things I love. I hope to continue, and do even more at First!”
Stewardship is about Growing in Faith and Friendship
“As a young child and as a young woman, I watched my parents volunteering. They taught us children, at an early age, that volunteering was a way to serve God and be a disciple for Jesus. I have found great joy and wonderful friend ships in volunteering at First Lutheran as well as at Pueblos de Dios. What wonderful relationships we build with children and adults!
What wonderful ways we get to share our love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus with others. What a marvelous way to witness our faith. To me, stewardship is not just about money; it is about serving God. We all have gifts we
can share with our faith family here. My life is richer because of the relationships that have come from volunteering.”