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Simple Church to Gather, Nurture, Serve

Simple Church is a book written by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger. It is also the name for a task force at Our Shepherd that met over the last couple of years. This group worked hard to develop our congregation's new DNA statement, refine our core values, and help shape our new logo.

DNA of our Congregation - Gather, Nurture, Serve

During the summer of 2018 the Simple Church Task Force helped our congregation launch our DNA statement, "Our Shepherd gathers, nurtures, and serves because Jesus loves." The fall 2018 sermon series and small group emphasis introduced the congregation to the purpose of our congregation present in the words of Gather, Nurture, and Serve. These words illustrate not only the purpose, but the DNA statement also carries in its words the process by which we trust God will work through us to accomplish His purposes.

God gathers us to Himself and His people in worship. God nurtures us together in His Word as we do life together. We serve Christ with our words and actions in the world.

Gather • Nurture • Serve

These three simple words represent the DNA of our congregation. As God works among us and in our community we find ourselves living our faith in the world. No more waiting or observing as an audience in this world. God gathers us by the Word and Sacraments to His work in the world.

I enjoy trusting God to be at work and discovering how He calls us all to be partners with Him. 

Clarity > Movement > Alignment > Focus

> Clarity

Simple Church in our congregation continues as the clarity of process moves forward into our ministry. We agree on the what and how of our congregation. Developing the DNA statement and narrowing our minds to the simple and necessary purpose and process of our congregation is the fulfillment of the clarity step in the four steps of Simple Church.

We still want to figure out how to measure gather, nurture, and serve so that we can evaluate where we have strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and external threats.

> Movement

"Movement is the sequential steps in the process that causes people to move to greater areas of commitment." (Simple Church p. 139)

We are working on the strategic programming in our congregation. Through gather, nurture, and serve people live their faith in the world. Strategic, sequential, intentional, and clear steps provide an opportunity for the people of God at Our Shepherd to see how they called by God to participate in the Mission of God.

Each regular event of our congregation provides people an entry into our life as the people of God, an opportunity to take the next steps in living out their vocation, and help people answer the question, "Now what?"

Each special event is an opportunity for people to transition from where they are at in their relationship with God and His people toward the next opportunity to gather, nurture, and serve. I desire us to plan and implement at every event invitations for people to bridge toward more fully gathering to God's Word, nurturing life together through God's Word, and serving God with our words and works in this world.

> Alignment

"If you want to maximize everyone's energy you must recruit on the process, offer accountability, implement the same process everywhere, unite leaders around the process."

How do we do that?

General Managers of professional sports teams at draft time have to determine if they will select the best player on the board or select the player that best fits the teams needs. In the church we trust every baptized person is a part of the body of Christ. We also trust that each person is a different member of the body. We have different gifts. As our logo and process is implemented, understanding is increased and unity is promoted.

Our church staff is held accountable for how gather, nurture, and serve is implemented. We are developing wildly important goals that are measurable on what we can do. We trust God places us into these moments to give glory to His name. We develop our goals inside the buckets of gather, nurture, and serve. Our goals are connected to how people will move through these steps towards faithfully living our faith in Christ in the world.

We should be prepared to answer these three questions:

  1. Are more of us being gathered in worship and prayer?
  2. Are more members of our congregation finding their lives nurtured in the Word as we do life together?
  3. Are more of us serving God with our words and works by serving one another, the community, and the world?

These three questions will help bring alignment toward gather, nurture, and serve.

> Focus

"Focus is the commitment to abandon everything that falls outside of the simple ministry process." (Simple Church, page 203).

 The art of eliminating nonessential activities that do not support the process of the Mission of God will provide greater energy in the congregation to do the things that really matter.

We must be careful not to add simply so that we appear busy. Busyness is not equal to productive. Dr. James Dobson points out that "overcommitment and exhaustion are the most insidious and pervasive marriage killers you will ever encounter as a couple." His words are not only trust about marriage but also are trust about our relationship to a congregation.

We want the next steps in our congregation to be simple to understand.

If every event and program develops and defines the strategic transitions that are possible for someone that participates, then we will have focus on what God does amongst us. Understanding the transitions in ministry that build people up in the promises of Christ will help us not to have zombie programs. Zombie programs or events are those things that happen because we have always done them, but they don't actually have a connection to the purpose of our congregation.

Clarity > Movement > Alignment > Focus

Seeking Youth and Family Life Worker at Our Shepherd

The Elders at Our Shepherd have established a call committee with the intention of discerning whom God is calling to be our youth and family life worker. This is a new position at this congregation. So we have prepared a draft job description.

In May the church council approved the creation of this position. At the June Voters Meeting the congregation approved funding this position in the 2019-2020 budget. Now we seek the Holy Spirit to lead us to an individual that will serve the youth and families with young children in our congregation.

The call committee begins to meet this Wednesday. They have already received some recommendations for the position. Pray for them to listen to God's will and desires for how we will ministry with and to the youth and families in our congregation.

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.

Gather

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.

Nurture

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.

Serve

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.

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