Our four areas of ministry focus: (1) Provide opportunities for worship (2) Teach the Bible (3) Build and nurture relationships (4) Go and serve.

Congregational Update from the Session Planning Team

You may recall that the Session is in the midst of a planning process designed to define the church’s ministry focus and the impact we believe we are called to make as a result of our ministry efforts. We’d like to update you on where we are in the planning process, and also how our decisions relate to the work of the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC).

What have we done to-date?

Recent Saints Alive publications have included a section containing Session updates, and in a few of the updates you may have read that the Session made a preliminary decision to focus the church on four specific areas of ministry. These areas are defined as follows:

  1. Providing opportunities for people to worship God;
  2. Teaching the Bible;
  3. Building and nurturing relationships;
  4. Equipping people, and providing people opportunities, to go and serve.

Our ministry focus – the combination of the four areas above – was crafted not on a Session whim, but through collaborative work inspired by input from two important sources. Namely, the Bible and you.

In the Bible we find many references to the kinds of things on which the church, and its people, should focus. Two passages that have particular relevance are noted below:

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The Fellowship of the Believers (Acts 2:42-47)

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Our ministry focus is most definitely inspired by these passages, and many others.

With regard to our other source of inspiration, you, we turn to our early spring congregational questionnaire. We learned a lot from the feedback you shared, and we utilized your feedback in the August Session retreat where we first identified the items that have emerged as our ministry focus. In particular, you told us of the importance of bible teaching, and of strengthening our relationships with one another and our neighbors. Clearly your views are helping shape the direction of SACPC.

Incidentally, the questionnaire results have been helpful not only to the Session but also to the PNC. While the Session continues to make reference to the results in planning discussions, the PNC is using them to:

  • Better understand the ways in which a new Senior Pastor/Head of Staff might need to engage and nurture the congregation;
  • Identify the kinds of pastoral characteristics a new Senior Pastor/Head of Staff must possess in order to work through our unique congregational concerns and challenges.

Back to our ministry focus. Through God’s guidance, the inspiration of scripture, and the comments of more than 300 SACPC members, we find we are ever closer to discerning our role in His plans. Thanks be to God!

We have a ministry focus… so now what?

The Session continues to work diligently to define what is to occur as a result of our focus, and also how we should be structured so that we will improve our abilities to be “successful.” With regard to “what is to occur,” the Session has been working to state specific “impacts” for each area making up our ministry focus. To help you understand what we mean, consider the Apostle Paul. Throughout his ministry we find hm qualifying his actions through statements that include “so that.” For example, he says “…I would give up my hope of eternal life so that others who do not know could come to faith.”

Paul makes sure people know why he is doing what he is doing. You’ll find other examples in passages such as Ephesians 1:17-19a, Ephesians 3:16-19, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9b-12, to name a few. We seek similar clarity with regard to our ministry focus. We need to know, without question, why we are…

  • Providing opportunities for people to worship God;
  • Teaching the Bible;
  • Building and nurturing relationships;
  • Equipping people, and providing people opportunities, to go and serve.

As for our structure, we hope to align “how” we work at SACPC with “why” we work. This is an important task because it will put us in better position to support our ministry focus, and will ensure clarity in the expectations we have of those in church leadership positions, including Ruling Elders (Session), Teaching Elders (Pastors), Deacons, volunteers – and perhaps even all members of the congregation.

The work on our structure is also important to the work of the PNC. The PNC must complete a Mission Information Form that showcases our church and its ministry focus, and also communicates the “job” responsibilities that relate to that focus, to prospective candidates. The PNC and Session each have their own unique responsibilities, and one cannot/does not have final say over the other – but the two groups can work together discerning God’s will for the church in terms of pastoral leadership. There is a good relationship between the Session and PNC, and we have faith that God will join the efforts of each in ways that fulfill His plans for our church.

So our work continues! During the months of November and December the Session will be exploring ministry focus and impact, and also considering various organizational leadership/structure “models.” We will be sure to stay in close communication with the PNC, informing them of any relevant Session actions in a timely fashion so as not to impede the pace of their work. We will also continue to periodically update the congregation with posts like this, and via our regular Saints Alive updates. In the meantime, please feel free to discuss church life with any member of Session.

In Christ,

The Session Planning Team
Rev. Dr. Robert Bardeen
Bob Cherry – Elder Class of 2016
John Bohbrink – Elder Class of 2017
Tom Glatt – Edler Class of 2018

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