We are currently engaged in the Wake Up process set forth by LEAD, an organization seeking to grow leaders in the church, especially at the non-pastoral or lay level. The Wake Up process is an effort to more fully align our own lives and the congregation’s life with God’s mission.
The team has six members who meet at least monthly, and usually more like every 3 weeks, to engage in the process for discerning purpose and identity for our congregation. They use spiritual practices, Bible study, faithful discernment, and strategic thinking. The goals are to discern Core Beliefs (what we believe as Lutheran Christians), Core Convictions (things unique or emphasized especially at Lord of Life), and Core Practices (how we live out our beliefs and convictions). In the end our congregation will have a purpose statement, an elevator speech of sorts to say quickly who we are at Lord of Life. But the process and conversations to get there are the most valuable part.
They have had regular updates in the newsletter, and you can find those all here. If you have questions for the Wake Up Team, please contact Pastor Kirsten and she will get you in touch with the team.
They need your input! In October 2019, the congregation was invited to reflect on questions to help the Core Belief discernment: What is one thing that is important to you about what we believe as Lutherans? Why is this meaningful to you? In January 2020, small group conversations with team members will help discernment in Core Beliefs, Convictions, and Practices.
July 7, 2019- Wake Up Team
Wake Up As a result of the recent Newsletter article on Wake-Up we have heard a lot of questions. “Why do we need this process if we have a mission statement, Guiding Principles; if we just went through an extensive self-assessment as part of the call process and of course -we have the Holy Bible to guide us –isn’t that enough?” These are great questions and the documents mentioned are all useful -and in the case of the Bible –essential to who we are as a Christian community –but what could be very useful to us is to look carefully at our activities, listen carefully to what we say is important and craft a statement that says:
- Who we are,
- what we do and
- why we do it.
This will help us clearly communicate to others what our purpose is -why did God bring these people together at this time and place, and what are the opportunities for us to meet the needs of the people in the congregation and in the community. We want to answer the question “If we disappeared tomorrow what would the neighborhood and world miss?” If the answer is “not much” –I think we will be disappointed and I don’t believe we are being all that we can be.
As we start this process we are excited by observations we have keyed on that go beyond our core activities of worship and faith formation: 1000 quilts made and nearly 200 wheel chair ramps built for those in need. Home to a preschool that provides Christian education; a place where home schoolers can gather to support each other, a place where Cub Scouts can gather to learn valuable lessons, meals provided to hungry seniors, mission trips to walk with others locally, nationally and internationally. These are just examples –the list could go on and on. How do we capture this in a statement that helps us focus on our strengths, helps us look to the future and continue to be Christ’s hands, feet and voice in the world? We are just getting started -we hope to share some questions with the whole congregation soon and to meet with small groups and others in the fall as we gather information to fuel this process. If you have questions be sure to ask one of us –
The Wake Up Team
July 28, 2019- Wake Up Team
Good morning –the Wake-Up team is checking in again with an update. As we talked about in our last newsletter article, we are engaged in a process that will help the congregation identify its purpose and values so that we can clearly communicate to others:
- Who we are,
- What we do and
- Why we do it.
The process we are following was developed by the folks at LEAD (https://waytolead.org/portfolio-item/wake-up-process ) and the process focuses heavily on laying a foundation for this effort through Bible study. During our recent team meeting we read Mark 8:27 –38. Jesus and the disciples are walking along and Jesus asks them “Who do you say that I am?” After reading this scripture we were asked –“Who does our congregation say Jesus is” and “Who do each of you say He is.” We had a great discussion that helped us talk about who Jesus is to us as a community and to us as individuals. By initiating this process, and each of our meetings, with time for reflection on Bible passages we are waking up to an important perspective as we work to discern the purpose of Lord of Life.
In addition to identifying the purpose of Lord of Life, we are charged with clarifying our core beliefs, core convictions and core practices. For core beliefs –what makes us Lutheran Christians -we will look to literature of the ELCA, our synod and the expertise or our Pastor. Core convictions are the things that make Lord of Life different from other Lutheran congregations. Why do people come to this church instead of worship somewhere else? What would the neighborhood, and others we work with, miss if Lord of Life closed tomorrow? I recently had a conversation with one of our members who moved out of state and she said they have not been able to find a congregation in their new home that is so outwardly focused. Comments and questions like this, help us identify what makes Lord of Life a unique place.
Why is this important? By understanding who we are and our unique role, we can clearly communicate that to others who may be looking for a place to worship and want to get involved in the things we do. It also will help us to focus on our strengths and add activities where needed to live out our convictions –and maybe recognize the things we do that no longer have meaning to our community that we can let go of.
By initiating the process with Bible study and reflection we expect it to give us a clearer vision of what God is calling us to be and do in the world. We invite you to join the process by engaging in Bible study and reflection and thinking about the questions listed above. We will have more explicit ways to get involved as we move into the fall and have group discussions to help identify our core convictions –the things that make Lord of Life unique.
September 29, 2019- Wake Up with Luke
The Wake-Up team continues to prepare to engage with the congregation in a process to better articulate who we are, what we do and why we do it. A key part of the Wake-Up process is Bible study and Spiritual practices. The guide book we are using says “God’s people have a tendency to focus more on themselves than on God’s mission in, around, and through them.” And “As you reflect on scripture you can see God moving people from their personal vision to God’s mission.” At our last meeting we spent some time thinking about and discussing Luke 5, Verses 1-11. You are probably familiar with these verses because they were the Gospel lesson on September 15. It commonly has the headline of “Jesus Calls the First Disciples.” Jesus is surrounded by a crowd on the shore of the lake and he steps into a boat to preach. After the lesson he tells Simon the fishermen to go into deep water and let down the nets. The catch is so large the nets are tearing and when loaded into the boats they areon the verge of sinking. The fishermen are astonished and Simon, James and John leave their boats and follow Jesus.
Pastor Kirsten asked us to write down any Insights and Questions raised by the reading and identify any Applications to our lives. We talked about the insight that Simon felt unworthy –but Jesus called him anyway. When the fishermen had heard Jesus and experienced the abundant catch under his guidance they were not afraid to leave their life (and valuable boats and nets) behind and follow him. This story can be applied to each of us and to Lord of Life. I would guess most of us at some time feel unworthy to be Christ’s hands and voice in the world –but he calls us anyway. And we can be so wrapped up in our lives that God’s mission in, around, and through us gets pushed into the background. As we move forward with this process to discern who we are, what we do, and why we do it, join us in asking three questions as you read a Bible verse –What Insights did I get, what Questions do I have, and what is the Application of these verses to my life. Hopefully you will find the experience as rich as we did in looking at Luke 5, Verses 1-11 and we will move together from our personal visions to more fully engage in God’s mission for Lord of Life.
October 27, 2019- Pastor’s Corner
At the beginning of October, Ken Tesch stood in front of us on behalf of the Wake Up Team and invited us to respond to a question in writing to help the team’s process: What is one thing that is important to you about what we believe as Lutherans? Why is it meaningful to you?
Since that question was asked, I have been in a bunch of conversations with people about their beliefs. Not all of those people believe the same things. I know some of you carry anxiety about being part of a congregation in which you don’t necessarily believe the same as others in this congregation.
Something I love about being Lutheran is that we work at being a community of believers who are not always on the same page. We don’t need to pretend that we are. And it’s okay that we don’t all believe the same thing on every issue, religious or secular. The Wake Up Team is working on building a statement of Core Beliefs, which is the more generic piece of what we are doing. The Core Belief statement will reflect what we believe as Lutheran Christians, maybe as compared to Presbyterians or Baptists or Catholics (other denominations of Christianity). It’s not that we as Lutherans have a monopoly on anything, but we have different emphases, so the Core Belief work is attempting to get at that.
Later in this process we will work on discerning our Core Convictions, which are the things we value here at Lord of Life. The Core Convictions of a congregation are what make Lord of Life look different from First Lutheran Kennewick or First Lutheran Pasco. We all have the same Core Beliefs, more or less, since we are all in the ELCA, but we have our own convictions -the things that make us.
Finally, the Wake Up team will do work on our Core Practices -the how of the beliefs and convictions. Our practices are informed by our convictions and beliefs, and they are a reflection of them. For example, maybe you would say that we are the church that always does Mission Possible, or Dr. Seuss Sunday, or the Advent Choir Festival. Those are all practices; they might help communicate our values, but we are trying to understand and name what those values are.
We are a diverse community in our beliefs, convictions, and practices. It is the hope and work of the Wake Up Team to articulate statements that are inclusive and not exclusive (which reflects the feedback we’ve already received from those questions mentioned at the beginning). We want this congregation to continue in its value of those things. And it is my hope that we continue in that. When you find yourself wondering if you fit in here, or being challenged by the beliefs of others, I invite you to speak up. Ask questions, but also listen carefully and compassionately. Everyone has established their own opinions through their life experience. We don’t want to invalidate each other or how we came to believe what we do. As a child of God, you belong here. And so does that person sitting next to you, or across from you. It is my hope that we can build relationships with one another and figure out how to have hard conversations with compassion and love, knowing that we are still the church, better together, whether we are in 100% agreement or not.
Peace be with you in your wrestling and challenges. I am finding the serenity prayer helpful, and it seems to work well here: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
P.S. If you did not get to fill out a sheet about what’s important to you about what we believe as Lutherans, there are more in the office. Come fill one out! We would love to have your thoughts included.
November 17, 2019- Wake Up Team Check in
The Wake-Up Team continues to work on developing a clear idea of Lord of Life’s purpose as a congregation and clear statements of beliefs, convictions and an understanding of what our core practices are. On October 6 Ken Tesch talked to the congregation during each worship service. He talked a little about our objectives and then he asked two questions;
- What is one thing that is important to you about what we believe as Lutherans? And
- Why is it meaningful to you?
We received over 70 responses to these questions and the responses have been very helpful to the team as we work to draft a statement of our core beliefs. Core Beliefs as defined in the Wake-Up process are those things we believe that are core to our Lutheran identity. It is not surprising that nearly half the responses pointed to God’s grace –that it is freely given to all and cannot be earned by our actions as the belief that sets us apart as Lutherans. This is certainly something that we often discuss in Faith Formation classes and Confirmation and often is the theme of sermons. Many of the responses that didn’t mention grace by name talked about God’s all-inclusive love and how it is freely given. These ideas will surely show up in a statement about our core beliefs.
Other responses give us insight into our Core Convictions as the congregation of Lord of Life. Again, the Wake-Up process defines core convictions as those beliefs that are core to our identity as Lord of Life –how are we different from other Lutheran congregations. Responses included that we are an inclusive congregation and that we value continued growth and education for all. And finally some responses point to practices that are important to us as Lord of Life. Things mentioned that point to Core Practices include:
- Using the Lutheran Liturgy in worship,
- Our outreach to the community and our efforts to help others,
- Weekly communion and that communion is open to all.
We continue on our draft statement of our Core Beliefs. We hope to have an opportunity to discuss the topic with you in smaller groups soon where we can shape it into something that is truly representative of Lord of Life. We hope to hear much more from you all about our Core Convictions and Core Practices as we get to that stage in the process. Your responses so far have been very helpful! Thank you to those that submitted their thoughts. If you did not get a chance, it is not too late! Please contact any of the team members if you have thoughts you want to share. We will be reaching out to you soon to set up opportunities to discuss the work we are doing.
December 22, 2019- Wake up Team
Hello from the Wake-Up team. Since our last newsletter note we continue to work drafting a belief statement that takes into account what we heard from the congregation’s answers to our belief questions presented by Ken Tesch in October.
The next steps in the process is for Wake-Up team members to share the draft belief statement with congregational members, ask for your feedback, and discuss our core convictions with you. Core convictions are what make Lord of Life different from other congregations. We will take what we hear to revise the Core Belief statement and to develop core convictions statements. We would like to have these conversations with small groups of congregation members and specifically talk to staff, youth, church council, long time members, members who have been here less than 5 years, music groups, study groups and others. We would also like to talk to groups outside Lord of Life –parents of preschoolers, the Boy Scouts group that uses our building, the Pasco Latino Ministry, the homeschoolers that use the building and some of our neighbors. It is a long list so it will take us awhile, but we want a chance to listen to a range of groups so that the convictions reflect who we really are. We will start meeting in January. If you have suggestions for who we should talk to –or want to invite us to meet with your group, please contact one of us.
We plan to give a report at the Congregational Meeting in February and continue to provide information in the newsletter. We will also be adding a new Wake Up section to the website so you can go back and read updates you missed. It is an honor to do this work together.
Thank you for your participation!
January 12, 202- Wake Up Team
The Wake Up team met on January 2 to make plans for the new year. As always we began our meeting with a Bible study –this time using Ephesians 1:3-14 and John 1:1-5, 10-18. These passages remind us of the grace and forgiveness we enjoy through Jesus Christ and that while Moses brought us the law, grace and truth came through Jesus.
The Wake-Up process is a 10 step process to clarify our values and purpose in alignment with God’s mission. Our purpose is why we exist in this place, in this day and time –and our values are made up of our beliefs –what makes us Lutheran Christians, and our core convictions –what makes us uniquely Lord of Life. The team has drafted a belief statement based in part on responses from the congregation’s responses to questions presented by Ken Tesch during worship service in October. We would like to share that statement with you and get your input so it can be finalized. We would also like to collect your thoughts on the values that make Lord of Life a unique congregation. We met with the church staff on January 7 and plan to meet with church Council on January 14. We have chosen a variety of times and days for meetings with congregation members so that one of these meetings will work for all of you.
- Tuesday January 21 at 7:00 PM
- Thursday January 23 at 11:30 AM (we will serve a light lunch)
- Sunday March 1 between worship services
If you plan to attend the meeting on January 23 please RSVP to Ana in the church office so we know how many to plan for lunch.
In addition to these general meetings we would like to meet with our youth and with people who have recently joined the congregation. The details of those meetings have not been determined –we will let you know as things firm up. Ideally we would hear from all of you during this process, but we especially want to hear from people who care about the future of Lord of Life and are willing to be part of the conversations along the way. We are also preparing a form so that you can provide written input if you are not able to attend one of the meetings. We plan to provide a status report at the Annual Meeting on February 23 and finish the meetings on our values soon after.