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Planning for 2019-2020

I have been the senior pastor at Our Shepherd for about one year. I now look forward to the next year, and I desire to figure out my focus for this year. What is important? What needs to change? What needs more emphasis and time?

Every day we aim to use the resources that God provides to us to partner with Him in His mission to share the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ. We pray that the Spirit of God will be at work through us to gather people to Jesus, nurture life in body and soul, and equip us to serve Christ with our words and works. Some days the calendar fills up with meetings, but most days I find myself in the gray area of undefined time when I need to see what God has for me to do. I like the open ended times of the day when I am patient for God to work through the every day moments to providentially guide me to be a part of Him at work.

Do you appreciate the structured days or the wide-open days in your life? I think the goals I have set for this next year will require some structured days, and also days when I make sure I am available for what God serendipitously plans for me.

Here are some of goals I have for this upcoming year that I hope will focus us in living our faith in the world. These goals were presented in my report to the June 30, 2019 Voters Meeting at Our Shepherd.


Everything we are called to be and set out to accomplish flows from the gifts of God we receive in the Word and Sacraments of the Church.

  • Increasingly develop the consistency of worship experience on Saturday night.
  • Increase the number of people that daily participate in prayer
    • Continuing to develop Take 5 to Nurture and
    • Providing guides for regular prayer.
    • Plan multiple community prayer events through the year to encourage us to be a community that prays together.
    • Provide more follow-up to people that are listed on our Notes and News Prayer Page.


God designed Christians to live together as the body of Christ. When we nurture our lives by being connected to God's Word, we are equipped for life together.

  • Fall small group emphasis to renew current small groups and encourage development of new small groups as we live life together.
    • Increase the number of small groups to 30.
    • Offer opportunities for people to live life together in both the daytime and evening.
  • Promote men’s and women’s weekend retreats so that people who have not heard about them are encouraged to participate.
  • Develop Education Hour programming for middle school students that takes place when confirmation class is not scheduled.
  • Provide more in-depth pastoral care to the staff of Childcare-8thgrade staff.
  • Call/Hire a full time Youth and Family Life Worker that leads the development of community and spiritual growth especially among children and youth 4thgrade – 12th grade.


We have been loved by God through the amazing grace of Jesus Christ, but this is not just for us. God sends us to serve in the world through our words and actions. We have been loved, and now we respond by loving in this world. To show the love of God, we will serve the physical and spiritual needs of our members, community, and world.

  • Provide financial health, grief, and divorce care programs, along with reawakening our Stephen Ministry program so that we are equipped to be active in care-giving relationships.
  • Continue to develop an ongoing ministry partnership with Family of God Lutheran Church in Detroit.
  • Participate in local and international mission partnerships that help us develop long term relationships. Continuing the partnership with San Juan Lutheran Church in Mexicali. In 2019 we provided $5,000 to help make the parsonage habitable.
  • Establish a process for nurturing relationships with the unchurched families in our childcare.

On the Road with Jesus Summer Photos

Summer is a time when many of us are on the road. Jesus also goes on the road in the Gospel of Luke, beginning with Luke 8:1, “Soon afterward He went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God.”

Starting June 22, we began a summer sermon series, “On the Road with Jesus.” We look at where Jesus goes, what He says and does, how it’s received by those who live there, and what He does next. We also look at Jesus’ travels in the context of our own lives. What does Jesus do in our lives? How do we receive the words and actions of Jesus? What does He do next for us?

Send us Summer Outing Photos #OTRWJ

We have created an “On the Road with Jesus” wall in the Atrium. Please email photos of your family “on the road” this summer, whether at the zoo, at the beach, on a family bike ride, on vacation . . . take a photo of your adventures as you’re out and about, as we remember Jesus is with us everywhere we go.

Email photos to and they will be posted. Tag your photos #OTRWJ in social media. We have “on the road” take away logo sheets for you to hold up in your photos.

Download the logo sheet

You are also invited to send scenic “background” photos (without people) to Katie Priskorn, for potential use in our summer powerpoint presentations ( ). You just might see your photo up on the big screen!


Unity in the church is tested regularly by two different points of stress. These stress points push us toward discord and strife. 


We struggle to know what unity looks like in the kingdom of God. I look around and I see people who are different from me. Different ages, situations, and settings are present in the church. Some young families have arrived to a worship service, and I can tell they are looking for people similar to them. Of course it is not just young families, but we all spend time searching for our own tribe. We can feel out of place or disconnected from a community when we don't find a common thread that will hold us together. Our community can unravel when we keep feeling different and out of place. I remember a person telling the story of visiting different congregations. They would drive through the parking lot before the service and see the different cars lined up in the spots. Would their beat up van fit in at this church or would they feel like outcasts?

St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12 about how there are many different parts to the body of Christ, with Christ as the head. Different gifts, but the same Spirit. Different areas where we serve, but the same Lord. Different activities, but the same God who empowers them all in everyone.

There is in the Kingdom of God a celebration of differences that are united in serving the same Lord. The differences we celebrate are not our sins and violations of God's commands. The differences we celebrate are the variety of gifts that God has placed into us to make Himself known. Unity in the kingdom is not defined by us all looking or acting the same but by us all serving the same Lord.


In the kingdom of God we not only have different gifts, but the value of these gifts is flipped upside down from what the world may value. Paul goes on to explain in 1 Corinthians 12 that in the body the weakest and most hidden parts of the body are so composed that God gives greater honor to those parts that lack it in the world. The body of Christ is a mystery to the people who will value power and control. Christ works through the weak and forgotten to reveal His grace in the world. No one should find themselves discarded or unnecessary in the kingdom of God. 


All these different gifts will tear us apart if we are not held together by the love of Christ. All these weaknesses that we identify in others and in ourselves will cause us to push away others or shrink away ourselves. Our unity in the church and in the world is found in the love of Christ. We do not demand a homogenous community that looks all the same. We believe in Christ to be the glue that holds us together.

With God

The relationship with God will be disrupted by sin. We do ourselves no favors by pride in our sin. Find pride in God's amazing love for the sinner among us, because this love includes you. With God we no longer are defined by our sins but become revelations of the love of God in this world.

Gather, Nurture, Serve

At Our Shepherd we gather around God's Word. We nurture our faith as we live life together. We look for opportunities to serve in the world with our words and works so that we can make the love of God made visible. All three of these processes find there starting point in God. Our unity springs from the work of God. Our strength comes from God's gifts. If Jesus is not raised from the dead and still remains defeated by sin, death, and the devil then we are fools. But indeed Jesus is raised from the dead and so we live victorious for Him.

Posted by Evan Gaertner
Tags: love, pride, unity