It is tempting to drag out the old hammock, find a shading space, and catch a snooze. Summer time is certainly the season for taking a deep breath. I've already had a chance to do some of this as we vacated town and headed back east.
Summer is also the time for dreaming and retooling. In the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day, ministry downshifts a bit. It allows for dreaming and to reimagine ministry. I have always enjoyed this work.
This year, I am blessed to work with staff and congregational leaders on a variety of projects. They are:
Reimaging the role of Pastor at St. James: Along with the Pastor Support Team (consisting of former council members and past presidents), we are looking at the role of pastor as we transition to being a single pastor parish. Starting today, I will be publishing a new 20-day blog sharing my thoughts, dreams, and tools that are essential for pastoral ministry moving ahead (click here). I hope that folks will take the time to read and share their feedback. In early fall, there will be a Town Hall Meeting for the congregation. At this event, the Pastoral Support Team will present their work and ask for feedback. We will work together to adjust expectations and rewrite the job description of St. James pastor.
Strengthening Confirmation Ministry: I have been working with the Small Group Leaders/parents to enhance our Confirmation Ministry. Building on the positive changes that were made in the spring, we will continue to make this middle school aged ministry the best it can be. I just met with a sub-group of the Small Group leaders to incorporate suggestions and feedback that was shared at an end-of-the-year review dinner. The result is an exciting schedule that is filled with service, bible and catechism study, speakers, and a weekend winter retreat. We are also going to be experimenting with Learner Directed Confirmation. This original idea seeks to offer a confirmation experience that students and parents design from a comprehensive list of learning objectives. It will be offered as a pilot and participation will be voluntary.
Reconfiguring Staff: At the beginning of the summer, we were sorry to see Bonnie Gauquie leave our church office staff. This caused us to rethink the way that our office staff was structured. We are currently looking for a contract-to-hire candidate to fill a newly created position that will provide needed communications and front office coverage (click here for a job description). Also, we are looking at creative ways to provide the needed support to multiple ministry plans. We will do this by shifting roles and expectations of the whole staff. One of our congregational strengths during this time of adaptive change has been a flexibility when it comes to matters of reorganization. The Council and Executive Mission Team will leverage this strength to make sure that we have all the bases covered by Rally Day.
Youth Ministry: Two areas are currently being worked upon. First, I am in the process of gathering a group of teens to go to next summer's National Youth Gathering in Houston, Texas. I am optimistic that we will have a good-sized group of youth attend. Second, we will be reshaping our SPARK ministry- weekly youth experience. We are thankful for the leadership of Mary Kruse and Jeff Owens who guided this ministry for the past two years. I am in the process of forming the new leadership team and look forward to announcing their names by the end of this month our new leaders. Both ministries offer excellent opportunities for high school aged youth to connect with each other and grow in their faith.
These are just four areas that are being worked and reworked. Please keep the process, staff, and leadership of St. James in your prayers as we go about the task of improving all of our ministries. As I say on a weekly basis at the end of worship - when the people of God share their gifts (time, talent, treasure) we are able to do the ministry of Christ in this place and time. Your gift sharing allows the needed resources to do ministry. With a grateful heart for what has been shared and a hopeful heart for what will be shared, I close this week's Ministry Moment.