From the Pastor’s Desk

Greetings in the name of Christ,

In conjunction with our efforts to revitalize our church a team from St. John has been formed to spearhead efforts to revitalize our congregation so that it may continue to fulfill our mission in the world. This team consists of Eric Hillstrom, Mary Johnson, Bob Lehmann, and myself. Over the next several months we will be meeting with trained facilitators provided by the Wisconsin Conference of the UCC to study how we can enhance our church in the practices of Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and Extravagant Generosity. The chair of each committee will be invited to attend the session relating to their committee so that we can all work together to plan and put into action practices that embody our call to mission and discipleship.

The purpose of our participation in this program is to increase our congregational health, vitality, and fruitfulness. Our goals in this are not simply to increase our attendance and membership but to help individuals grow in their faith and continue to build community.

The first “practice” we are focusing on is the practice of “Radical Hospitality” as we are reminded in Romans 15:7 to “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” This practice goes beyond just saying hello and reminds us that the church exists, and its fundamental purpose is “to draw people into relationship with God through Jesus Christ.” Radical hospitality means that not only do we pray, plan, prepare, and work toward the purpose of helping others receive what we have received in Christ but doing so in a way that exceeds expectations, that engages in practices that are rooted in the life of Christ and that then radiate into the lives of others. As our team works through this process I would invite you to consider for yourselves what you receive from belonging to this community of faith and to consider what people need from the church? Out of those reflections, it is our hope that we are then able to further put into practice actions and practices that fulfill those needs and bring ourselves and others closer to Christ and closer in community with one another.
If anyone would like to learn more about the Church Renewal program or would like to read “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations” by Robert Schnase (the book upon which the program is based), please talk to Pastor Tara or any of the other team members. I also ask you to pray for our team and church as we go through this process so that this may be a productive and energizing endeavor.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Tara