From Pastor :: August 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It has been a busy summer with the celebration of my Ordination anniversary, the Cass County Fair, Vacation Bible School, and the Summer Celebration. But it’s not time to slow down. Planning and preparation is underway for the resumption of weekly midweek Bible Studies and Jr. Catechesis, the Circuit Reformation Worship Service at St. James, a Reformation and Sanctity of Life Conference also at St. James, and a St. James Leadership Summit.

Here are some random thoughts looking backwards and forwards:

Random Thought #1 - Vacation Bible School

Barnyard Roundup VBS was a great success! And that is actually an understatement. The success of this year’s VBS is the result of a lot of work by all of the volunteers. I’m sure Ryan and Abby will write more about the volunteers and participants in next month’s Scroll (not enough time for this month’s edition). It is impossible to calculate the number of hours Ryan and Abby spent preparing for the week of VBS. They began preparing for Barnyard Roundup as soon as Camp Discovery ended last year and the results are amazing. From preparing the “carrots” for the booth at the fair, creating the decorations and decorating the classrooms, directing the week, and making adjustments on the fly, Ryan and Abby have raised the bar for VBS at St. James. Please thank them for their hard work. After a brief rest, I’m sure they will begin planning for VBS 2017: Mighty Fortress - In Jesus the Victory Is Won.


Random Thought #2 - Catechesis

In June I attended the Concordia Catechetical Academy Symposium in Wisconsin to research and develop ideas for Catechesis at St. James. Three “old school” ideas were emphasized: 1) The congregation needs to reclaim the importance of catechesis. 2) The pastor, Elders, and congregation need to learn the importance of “No.” 3) Memorization is paramount. A new emphasis was also presented regarding parental involvement and pastors were encouraged to work with the Sunday School to supplement and enhance Catechesis.

With what I learned by attending this Conference (Symposium), I am developing a catechetical approach that will include an emphasis on memorization of the Catechism, a class schedule that will be best for teaching the faith, and parental involvement. Some of the things already being done will continue, some will be adjusted, and some will be new. I will present my thoughts to the Board of Elders at their August meeting for their input, approval and support.

A meeting for parents and students entering Third Grade and older (and not yet confirmed) is scheduled for the last Sunday of August (August 28) following the congregational carry-in dinner. This new catechetical approach will be presented to the parents and students at that meeting and implemented in September.

Random Thought #3 - More Than Giving (A Conference on Stewardship)

This month, Mark & Teresa Josephson and Terri & I will attend “More Than Giving” a Conference on Stewardship sponsored by The LCMS Office of National Mission and DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel.  Presenters will provide a sound biblical and theological foundation for congregational and personal stewardship while offering practical solutions for churches large and small. Part of this conference will include stewardship planning by the participants to take back to their congregations.

Random Thought  #4 - Leadership Summit

Since I began serving St. James (2009), we have been in a type of holding pattern. We have reacted to events instead of planning and acting on that plan. Without a plan, we don’t know how to prepare; we don’t know how to focus our efforts; we find ourselves pulled in different directions depending on the mini crisis at the time; we don’t move forward; we become stagnant as a congregation; all of which results in the Gospel not being carried beyond the walls of our church building as effectively as possible. The Leadership Summit provides an opportunity for our elected leaders, boards, committees, and organizations to plan for the future of St. James.

The Leadership Summit will provide an opportunity to review how our congregation is doing with the one-year transitional budget adopted last December; consider our current status in all areas of the congregation; explore (brainstorm) ideas for the future of St. James; and develop a plan for moving into the future.

The future direction planned by the Leadership Summit will be presented to the Voters Assembly. Once adopted, it will assist the Boards, Committees and organizations to focus effort and energy on a cohesive plan. This plan for the future will also guide the Boards when preparing their budget requests.

Any member (young or old) of the congregation may attend the Leadership Summit, but all members of boards and organizations are especially encouraged to attend. The Head of each Board and Leader/President of each organization will be given additional information to help prepare for the Leadership Summit.

(A generous grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans will underwrite the expense of the Leadership Summit)

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Dehning