Message From Pastor Stanton for February 2015

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…

For just as the body is one and has many members and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
— 1 Corinthians 12

Last fall First Lutheran published a long-range Strategic Plan, set to begin January 1, 2015. In response to the plan, we have already hired Bridget Crave as our Director of Small Groups and Aliyah Richling as our Children’s Choir Director. A full time Youth Director position has been approved by our Finance Team (they believe we can afford it) and also by our Vision & Leadership Team (they agree that the vision for the congregation includes this position). A job description is almost complete, and we will begin searching in earnest by February 1. Other goals for this first quarter of 2015 include recruiting a Stewardship Action Team, a Community Outreach Action Team and Sanctuary Players—who are willing to do dramatic readings and skits in worship. In the second quarter of this year we hope to recruit Worship Directors, establish Hospitality Action Teams, recruit a Worship Action Team and create a Welcome Basket Team.

As you can see, the first step of our long-range Strategic Plan requires a few staff hires and A LOT of new action teams where members will be stepping up to use their gifts ‘for the common good’ as Paul told the Corinthians. The problem is, that within a church of almost 2,000 members, it is nearly impossible for any staff to be aware of everyone’s gifts and interests. “Many hands make light work” is one of my favorite sayings. And that is the only way we will accomplish our goals. First Lutheran needs every single member to contribute toward an action team, a small group or a ministry program.

It’s kind of like being the crew on a ship. One of the most ancient symbols for the church is a ship at sea. You may notice that the beam work of the ceiling of our sanctuary looks like the inside of an upside down ship. This symbol is meant to remind us that we are journeying through this life and this world together… in Christ. Notice that we are not meant to be on a cruise ship where we all sit separately, doing our own things with a few people serving everyone else. The church is not called by God to simply joy ride through life. We are meant to be a working ship with every crew member pitching in. What if we had 50 families willing to usher at each Sunday service? Then each family would have to do it only once a year. What if we had a puppet team consisting of 25 people? Then each person would get to offer that ministry just once a month. It’s not that we have a shortage of people. What’s missing is a matchmaking tool where members match their interests with ministries of the church.

That’s why the other big effort we’ll be making this quarter is getting every member at First to complete a Faith Life & Service Profile. You can do it on your phone, computer or on paper. The profile asks for basic information updates (which is essential for our leaders to invite you), and then offers thirty “I like…” statements. For example, “I like kids” or “I’m handy” or “I like to work in the kitchen.” After selecting only the “I like” statements that pertain to you on page one, page two presents specific ministries and service opportunities that you may feel called to do. The entire profile takes less than fifteen minutes and will help our leadership recruit and create the many action teams the congregation believes we need to move into the next chapter of being First Lutheran.

Take fifteen minutes right now, if you haven’t already, to complete your Faith Life & Service Profile. Open yourself up to pitching in. It’s through these groups and ministries that meaningful relationships form and church becomes relevant. All aboard!