FAQs about Listening Small Groups

Answered by Kevin Bowen, Communications & Youth Ministry Coordinator, and Vision Team Co-Chair


How many Listening Small Groups can/should I sign up for?

You’ll have the opportunity to participate in two 90-minute Listening Small Groups during the Listening Phase of our visioning process.

Sign up for ONE of the 5 available dates in Round 1 from March 24 - April 13. (Or suggest an alternate time in the sign-up form.)

Soon, you’ll be able to sign up for a second Listening Small Group session in Round 2 from April 22 - May 12.

Does it matter if I participate in only Round 1 or Round 2, or both?

YES. We strongly encourage everyone to participate in BOTH Round 1 and Round 2. We’ll be covering different topics in each round.

Why only 2 small group sessions per person?

We want to hear as much as possible from as many voices as possible, within a timeframe that moves us forward. We planned enough sessions to:

1) Allow 100 people to participate in 2 small groups

2) Keep groups small (3-6 people) to give all 100 people equal time to be heard

What will we be talking about?

Our Listening Small Groups will explore 4 themes that emerged from the Vision Retreat in January:

1) Community & Belonging

2) Faith Journeys & Practices

3) Adaptability & Innovation

4) Faith Formation & Social Justice

We are very excited to go deeper into all these themes with you!

What if I want to do more?

That is great! Once the Vision Team finishes preparing our Listening Small Groups, we’ll be rolling out more activities like ministry observations, talking to neighbors in the community, and more as part of our “Listening Phase.”

If you’re interested in opportunities like this, let me know, and I can reach out to you as soon as we have them planned.

How will these Small Listening Groups inform Advent’s Mission & Vision?

To answer this, we have to first zoom out and look at the 4 phases of our visioning process: Engaging, Listening, Distilling, and Empowering.

These groups are part of the Listening Phase. Our Vision Team facilitators will be listening attentively, intuitively, and empathetically in each Listening Small Group. They will compile careful and detailed notes from each conversation.

If we’re able to engage 100 members in two 90-minute conversations in groups of 4, as we hope, this will result in 75 total hours of collective listening. (Feel free to check my math. Not my gift.)

We will bring all the insights from these Listening Small Groups into the Distilling Phase. While the Listening Phase is about listening deeply to the congregation and community to gain insight, the Distilling Phase will introduce new processes like brainstorming, analysis, synthesis, and selection that are directed at getting us to our final Mission & Vision. The Vision Team will be meeting to do engage in this work as a team, but YOU will also have many opportunities to participate in this process.

When will we be talking about the building and finances?

Spatial and financial planning are separate from the Visioning Process, but to maximize efficiency will begin during the Visioning Process. Let me explain.

The Visioning Process is about getting down to our roots and exploring basic, essential questions like “Why do we we exist?”, “Who are we?” and “Who is God calling us to become?” It is about discovering our common ground and shared purpose as a church, so we can use this as a meaningful guide for charting our way forward.

The Vision Team’s role is to facilitate this process, and lead the congregation in co-creating a Gospel-inspired, collectively-owned, actionable, and aspirational Mission & Vision.

Spatial and Financial Planning will come out of the Visioning Process, and be guided by the Vision & Mission we create together.

During the Distilling Phase, our Congregation Council will initiate a Financial Planning Team and a Spatial Planning Team.

The Vision Team is in ongoing communication with Council about how these different teams will interact, and how Council will empower and oversee the whole process. We will update you transparently and immediately as new information is finalized.

Let me know if you have more questions!

I’ll respond directly, and/or add them here.

- Kevin

(Communications & Youth Ministry Coordinator at Advent, and Vision Team Co-Chair)

Advent Lutheran Church