Acts 2:41-42 41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Over the past three years we as a whole congregation have together explored our past, present, and leaned into God’s future by discussing: “Who did God create St. John’s Lutheran to be back in 1883?” “Who have we become today?” or “Who are we now?” and “Who is God creating us to become?” Then we distilled our thoughts and conversations further into focus still by pondering a new set of questions: “Who is God calling us to serve?” “What moves this congregation into action?” and “What are the matters of social injustice that are just not right?” When boiled down, the answers you provided in those conversations were that as a whole this congregation seeks to be Worshiping, Welcoming, Growing, and Serving. And those four convictions look a whole lot like those of the 1st century church devoting themselves to “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

As our exploration brought our congregational core convictions into collective consciousness, there has been simultaneously the question of, “How does ___ fit into our congregational ministry?” Many members of our congregation filled in the blank of that question with “Chi Rho”, or “the Child Care Center,” or “the Music Series,” or “The Foundation.” It is the right question, but the truth is that since we as a congregation have not articulated an answer, we don’t have one. Certainly it is the case that individual members can answer the question, but as a congregation we do not have an answer; and we need one. The time has come for a Mission Statement to focus our entire congregational ministry and answer both questions of “How does ___ fit into our congregational ministry?” and “What are we supposed to do with our four convictions of Worshiping, Welcoming, Growing, and Serving?” I am excited for this moment and am convinced that this process can be a life-giving conversation for our life together.

Acting on its conviction that now is the time to create a Mission Statement, the Church Council passed a motion in June and July to hire Rev. Glenn Taibl as our consultant as we form a Mission Statement Taskforce. Together they will work to facilitate a process involving the whole congregation in creating a Congregational Mission Statement before the end of our program year (May of 2018). The Council then brainstormed several names of members, whom they asked me to contact and invite to serve on this taskforce. An open space on this taskforce remains for one more member of St. John’s, so if you or someone you know would like to serve, please inform either Congregational President Steve Dosdall, Vice President Jennifer Belz, Secretary Jennifer Burdick, or me. Already saying “Yes” to serving are: Elaine Taylor, Clara Willette, Ron Hasselmann, Bergit Nerheim, Patrick Coveney, Sarah Tellijohn, Scott Belz, and Jon Dosdall. Please thank them and pray for them as they serve in this pivotal and exciting work.

Our hope is that the Mission Statement will actively guide and form everything we do and help us more fully see that the programs and ministries we host and/or carry into the world are the tools we use as St. John’s Lutheran Church to reach our neighbor and the world with God’s love, abundance, justice, and grace. The metaphor I use in explaining this is that St. John’s is a wagon carrying God’s people who are performing God’s work; great burdens require big horses, and we have big horses. They just need focus, purpose, and to be directly connected with the direction of our wagon. The Mission Statement will serve as a guide to form, focus, and align the St. John’s Chi Rho Center, St. John’s Child Care Center, the St. John’s Foundation, and the St. John’s Music Series as this congregation’s “four ministry horses.” These and all our congregational ministries will be yoked together and with the congregation’s official committees and taskforces, metaphorically hitched as a unit to the wagon of St. John’s Lutheran Church. And the members of this congregation shall be holding the reins. The Mission Statement will also serve to remind that these horses exist to serve the congregation’s ministry of preaching the Gospel and serving the world. Rather than being an end unto themselves, our Mission Statement will remind us all that the “four ministry horses” are tools for the mission of this congregation, serving as platforms for our church to proclaim and provide to our neighbors God’s love, abundance, justice, and grace.

I believe God is moving through us, continuing to breathe life into us, and preparing us for a new day that is already beginning to dawn. God is truly good and graciously involving us in God’s own extraordinary and redemptive work.

“And (the people of St. John’s) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” That’s what I believe. Sincerely,

Pastor Mark