Confirmation Class, 1920
St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, IN
What would your grandparents think of tweeting during worship? Just trying to explain the concept to my grandmother, born in 1922, would be infuriating to both of us, let alone trying to justify to her why we might do it during worship! Many congregations now, though, encourage worshippers to comment on the sermon or the experience they’re having by live tweeting during worship! She hated when her church added guitar music and contemporary hymns.
Founder’s Day, 1976
Hosanna Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas
50 years after she was born, Church had changed a lot, from architecture to music to theology. Throughout time, God makes the message of liberation and love through Christ relevant to the living. Each generation must encounter, engage, and embrace the Gospel and make it their own. Lutherans believe in a God active in history, in the living Body of Christ, and in the transformational work of the Holy Spirit. We have felt this ever-living God; we have seen the work of God’s hands. Church changes through time because God’s people’s needs change through time, our understanding matures, the world grows ready for something new.
Bishop’s visit, 2019
King of Glory Lutheran Church, Arvada, Colorado
50 years further on, we certainly saw God active in our congregation last Sunday, March 10, 2019. We saw the living Body of Christ in the nearly 100 of us who gathered (out of 137 worshippers) to share our unique perspectives, our creative imaginations, and our very real fears. We saw the transformational work of the Holy Spirit as a simple question about a sale became the source of possibilities that quickly transformed our need for survival into a vision for vibrant life.
Sue Hettinger, our council president, gathered us together with prayer, and then I started our discussion by reminding us of Jesus’ words in John 13, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” I asked the question, “how will we treat one another today such that others would see the love we have for one another?” Some of our responses are in the picture to the right. We had a wonderful discussion around somethings we all agreed on out of the gate: respect, authentic listening, and asking questions.
After spending some time in small group discussion, we shared some of the passions, possibilities, and needs we saw at KOG. Many tables echoed our passion for worship and music as well as community service.
“How they love one another!”
Passions, possibilities, needs
and what’s working.
At right: If we had $5 million
Then we let our imaginations loose with a fun exercise called Luther’s Millions where we dreamed aloud about what we would do with more money than we knew what to do with. Responses included technology, building repair, multi-use space and a number of other ideas.
At the start of the meeting I took a few minutes to give an overview of the process we’ll use as a congregation over the coming months to discern God’s purpose for us in our next chapter, and I’d like to do so again now.
This five step process called “Appreciative Inquiry” is summed up in five D’s: Define, Discover, Dream, Design, and Deliver. We are firmly in the first three steps as we began by Defining the question: what is God’s purpose for us? We spent our meeting last Sunday Discovering who we are with questions like “what’s working at KOG?” and “what would you like to see more of?” We also dipped into Dreaming when we imagined having more money than we could spend.
At our council meeting on March 11, the church leadership came up with a timeline for executing this Appreciative Inquiry. It is our intent to take until June to Discover and Dream about our next chapter. At our June meeting we’ll define six possible futures for KOG: three if we choose to sell, three if we choose to stay (including the option to do nothing at all). We’ll then take four months for small groups of interested members to do feasibility studies on our narrowed-down field of options. At our October meeting we’ll receive the reports from the feasibility teams, and we’ll take all of October and November to talk and think through these detailed reports. Finally, in December we’ll vote on which of the six our next chapter as a congregation will be.
Note: The December 2019 vote is NOT on selling the property, but on what, if anything, we’d like to go to AURA with as our starting position for negotiations regarding the sale of the property.In other words, the sale of the property is contingent upon (a) our conclusion that for us to properly become what God is calling us to be selling the property makes sense, and (b) AURA and the investors who would be purchasing our property agree to our terms, whatever we determine those to be. Below you will see a timeline of the plan.
We can, and will, walk away if the above conditions aren’t met.We are under no obligation to sell. If the conditions are acceptable to AURA, then we’ll have a formal vote to accept the terms and commit to the sale.
In my own childhood, when I picked up the telephone receiver from the wall only to find someone else was using it, I could never have imagined the personal telecomputer I carry in my pocket all the time. Now, I make announcements on Sunday mornings reading from my smartphone. Who knows what church will look like in the next 50 years? I can promise you, because we worship a God active in history and transformative in power, it will look different. How will KOG allow ourselves to be formed and transformed by God’s life-giving Spirit? I guess we’ll find out in the next few months!
|Mar 10 — Town Hall 1: Discernment Kickoff!|
Overview of process, small group discussion, discovery and dreaming
|Apr 7 — Town Hall 2:|
Comprehensive listing of all assets: physical, fiscal, organizations, institutions, people. Imaginative regrouping!
|May 19 — Town Hall 3:|
Coming into Focus
Like rivulets of water on a windshield, we’ll bring our conversations together and look for themes and patterns.
|June 2 — Town Hall 4:
We’ll vote with our feet and with dots for our favorite six possibilities: three if we stay and three if we go.
July, August, September
Small Group Feasibility Study
|Oct 6 — Feasibility Reports|
Hear more detail about the six possibilities.
|Nov 3 —|
We’ll discuss in depth the six possibilities.
|Dec 8 —
We’ll vote on our next chapter together.
Peace, Pastor Todd