Keeping Things Moving

by Kevin Bowen

Vision Team co-chair, Communications & Youth Ministry Coordinator


One of the books I consulted for this visioning process, Move by Patty Azzarello, describes how often new initiatives begin with great energy and enthusiasm, but the key to reaching your goal is planning out “The Middle” phase. Wow, have I been learning that lesson.

Our Vision Team built a framework for our visioning process, launched a comprehensive outreach campaign, and planned a complex and bilingual Vision Retreat in 1.5 months. 80+ Advent members attended, over 15 of them Spanish-speaking, and most overwhelmingly the feedback is that it was an incredibly encouraging, unifying, and thought-provoking experience. What an amazing start to our visioning process!

We on the Vision Team are proud of our work in preparing this moment, and I believe it speaks to the strengths and dedication of this team.

Now, we are in the “The Middle” phase . . .

The 1.5-month run time till the Vision Retreat has meant that some of this planning our of “The Middle” had to happen after the Vision Retreat. We feel this will ultimately enhance our process, because we wanted to use what we heard from the retreat to inform our planning.

But this means in the last 1.5 months, in addition to preparing the “Listening” phase of our visioning process, we have been feeling out our roles and processes on this team of 10 people with different skills and schedules, some of whom just met on this team. We have been back and forth with Council about how this visioning process fits into the big picture of Advent’s future, and with the pastors about how this process will fit into the season of Lent. We took time to sit thoughtfully and discuss deeply what we heard from the congregation at the Vision Retreat, and let this inform the subjects we will explore during our “Listening” phase. We distilled research, reading, scripture, and sermons to develop a methodology for the “Listening” phase that is grounded both in wisdom from professional fields and the Gospel. There has been a great deal of discussion and thought and emails and prayer.

As a co-chair and the staff representative to the Vision Team, who by the nature of being on staff at Advent has been able to spend the most time on this work, my experience working with this team has been one of great joy and learning.

That being said, this process is ultimately about our congregation together, the Gospel, our surrounding community, and what God doing is here. So as you are waiting for your next opportunity to engage while we are planning it, we want to keep you totally in the loop, let you know you are not missing the important stuff, and that it’s coming soon.

First, I hope this is very clear: In this past 1.5 months of work, we, the Vision Team, are not preparing a Vision or Mission for Advent. We are preparing a process through which our congregation can deeply, meaningfully, and effectively explore Advent’s identity, mission, and vision together.

Committing to a collectively-owned Vision & Mission means that our vision and mission will come from all of you, the Gospel, and our community! On the Vision Team, we hope to only be facilitators, listeners, distillers, and empowerers.

We want to keep you in the loop of everything the Vision Team has been up to, so you know exactly where we’re at, are included in the process, and can get excited about your next chance to participate! In the calendars below, I hope you see these things:

  1. The Vision Team is dedicated and working on this every week

  2. Things are moving forward! Every week there is progress

  3. We are committed to transparency

  4. Your next opportunity to participate is coming soon!



After the Vision Retreat in January, the Vision Team responded to all the feedback gathered at the retreat, and began to develop an action plan implementing the “Listening” phase of our visioning process.



In the Vision Team’s second post-retreat meeting on Feb 3, we dove deeper into all the responses we heard from the Vision Retreat, and used these to identify 4 themes to continue exploring in the “Listening” stage. (Maybe we should elaborate on these 4 themes in our next blog post?)

We also agreed on a working plan for implementing the “Listening” stage as efficiently as possible, which involved breaking out into different “working groups” focused on programming, implementation, and outreach.

As you’ll see in the February calendar, we explored the possibility of beginning our “Listening” phase with a round of “affinity groups.” These are groups that share some kind “affinity,” whether it’s a language, cultural background, or life stage. We wanted to create safe spaces to hear voices from diverse perspectives. But, we also didn’t want to force people into pre-determined boxes. So ultimately, with the guidance of Council, we decided to stick with general listening groups, and give you the opportunity to self-identify and opt for an affinity group if that is a space you would like to have in this process. You will find that option in the listening groups sign-up when it is made available.



As I write this today, our programming group is brainstorming questions for our listening groups, which will go on to get input from the whole Vision Team. Our implementation group is finalizing a plan for scheduling and sign-ups. Our outreach group is planning a wave of outreach, from interpersonal invitations to social media posts, once our sign-ups are ready.

As a team, we are scheduling one more whole-team meeting to test-run our questions and activities, and prepare ourselves to be our best facilities and listeners for these small groups.

And then, our Listening phase will be ready. Soon and very soon. Stay tuned . . .

Peace, Kevin

Vision Team co-chair, Communications & Youth Ministry Coordinator

If you have any comments or questions, you can reach me at

Advent Lutheran Church