On Saturday September 16th, 2017 our congregation council retreated at the home of our council president, David Richards. They discussed big questions, such as: Who is God calling us (Advent) to be in this moment? What does it mean to be a Christian community today? What does it mean to be a member of Advent?
Eventually, the discussion led to three primary areas to pursue further development and growth: worship, education, and outreach. Then Pastor Danielle asked Council to discuss how to achieve these goals. “What are the legs?” she said. “How do we get our feet on the ground and begin moving forward?”
David Richards proposed recalibrating our expectations of what it means to be a Christian community. “What if we call on every Advent member to be involved in each of these three areas -- worship, education, and outreach -- in one way. What if we say, this is what it means to be part of a Christian community, and to be a member of Advent."
Isn't that what God calls each of us to do anyway? What would it look like if we all lived up to that call together at Advent? It would look pretty amazing.
For some of us, this may be the point where the “buts” and “can’ts” pop into our heads, so let’s deal with them positively. What are the challenges of responding to that call, for you, for our congregation? And how can we address those challenges and remove those barriers instead of throwing up our hands? Hands made to be doing God’s Work. If we believe this is important, let's figure out how to do it.
Juan Minier stressed the importance of providing Christian education. In his view, education is the key that opens the door to involvement and growth. “It is hard to care about something that you don't understand,” Juan said. The more you learn about our faith, the more taking part in it holds deeper meaning for you. One takeaway from the whole group is that we want to provide more education opportunities for you: for lifelong Lutherans, for newly Lutherans, and for visitors.
Implementing new programming can be complex. Michael Hammett highlighted an important balance we must strike between giving programs a clear structure and developing new programs organically. They must have clear structure, but it can't be arbitrary. Leaders must be in constant communication with the congregation so we are in touch with what needs really are.
These are just a few highlights from the concluding thoughts of the conversation. As everyone left, Tanya Kent and Abby Emmanuel said of the meeting, “It was very productive. There was definitely no fluff.” Everyone looked a little tired, but content with the work that had been done. The picture above was taken on everybody's way out, before heading back into the city, back into busy lives, and then eventually back to Advent the next day for Celebration Sunday.
Let's give thanks for these regular members of our congregation who have given their time and energy to meet regularly and tackle these important questions. What do you think about the questions and ideas council discussed? Let us know in the comments below.