A Congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

From The Pastor’s Desk

Rev. Kyle D. Woodrow

What We Are Working Toward

In a Christianity Today article several years ago, Charles Paul Conn commented that “Looking through a peephole is no way to stay motivated when you’re moving toward a goal. The big view is important. It takes big dreams - big goals - big rewards - big faith - to keep us moving through obstacles and fatigue and discouragement. To maintain momentum requires constantly reminding ourselves what we are working toward.” Do you remember what we are working toward as a church?

Over the past few months we have held Focus 2019 workshops geared towards helping us discern God’s vision for St. Jacob’s. We have spent time asking hard questions of ourselves, our context, and considering where God might be leading St. Jacob’s in the future. Specifically, we have looked at the traditional marks of the church as a way of assessing things we are doing well and what things might need some work. We have explored practices of “fruitful congregations” and discussed in detail five critical areas: radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity.

These conversations have been both enlightening and challenging. For many the workshops have been energizing, fresh and an opportunity to think out of the box a bit as to what it means to be the church in this time and place. For others, there has been some discomfort as we consider what might need to change. And still, there are a few who wonder “why are doing this now,” and not completely seeing the connection between these activities and the work still ahead in forming a Call Committee and beyond. Wherever you find yourself is okay and is all part of a shared experience, but we must keep moving forward.

I would like to say “thank-you” to everyone for your willingness to engage, your eagerness to learn, and no doubt your patience and commitment with what can feel like an arduous process. As a church, you should be proud of your hard work thus far. In my short time with St. Jacob’s, I have seen this community change, grow, evolve as we have committed to growing in God’s grace and sharing God’s love. Our faith has grown – people have grown. And still there is more to come…

Soon, we will shift gears in the process – moving from input and collecting data to interpreting our data and bringing together what we have been saying with what God might be wanting us to hear. This all leading to discerning together how we will best articulate and live out a renewed vision and mission for St. Jacob’s. It is truly a Kairos moment – an in-breaking moment in God’s time that changes everything and defines all moments moving forward – from a moment to a movement!

Haven’t you ever wondered how a movement starts? How a spark turns into a flame? How a small river turns into the ocean? How a way of life and a set of beliefs and values become a world religion? How a single moment can prompt a movement? The power of any movement is in the ability of people to live into the God-appointed moment and grasp the vision and embrace the ideals and principles on which the movement is based and the vision it is working toward.

We follow and serve the Living God, who calls us to a life of faith that dreams big, pursues the vision that God gives, and acts boldly. The life of faith takes risks to get the gospel out of the sanctuary and into the neighborhood so to speak. Ours is a God who invites us to see beyond the limits of what already exists and aspire to pursue what should be – God’s Kingdom. God invites us on a journey, not as a tourist but as a pilgrim, people who not only explore the places they go but are affected by it, changed by it and in turn make their own changes. God gifts us with an incredible capacity to dream, to work, to pursue God’s Holy desires for our lives and our world.

Isn’t this what we are meant to be working toward?

With you on the Journey,

Pastor Kyle