Keeping you informed…
Ready or not…
If August was “I’m not ready yet” (see last month’s blog) then September is “Ready or not here it comes.” By “it” we, of course, mean the busyness of September ministry. For all of us September has hit, if not literally at least figuratively, like a hurricane. Here at the DO (District Office) the month started with renovations on the office (painting came first and floors are being scheduled), a coaches training event, Council of Presidents orientation, Council of Presidents Meetings, and a spattering of other meetings. In the midst of all this, we paused to be with our dear brother Phil and his family as we mourned the passing of wife/mother/friend Barbara (please continue to keep them in your prayers). I venture to say that your list of things was/is just as long, if not longer. Now we look at the calendar and are shocked to see it is already the second half of the month! Ready or not, it came.
Through it all God is gracious. He is with us in the storm and by his word is calming the turbulent seas. His word spoken to us and through us is used by him to create and sustain faith. Yes, September requires some extra from us as we ramp up after the summer lull, but this is also our joy. We are serving our Lord. God bless you in your Fall ministries.
A friendly welcome
I would like to encourage all of our congregations to make a special effort in giving a friendly welcome to members and visitors on Sundays and at all of our events. As I have visited our congregations I have not always been received that way. It is rather disconcerting when, after entering the church, someone looks at me and turns away without saying a word. Now, maybe it is because I am wearing a collar and I am a strange and unexpected sight. I hope so, but my fear is that this happens with visitors who are not wearing a collar!
As we all know, first impressions are critical to welcoming guests. Guests are nervous wondering what this place will be like and if they are truly welcome to be there. A simple smile and hello can make all the difference in the world. Surprisingly, even though our members are the hosts they are sometimes shy and uncertain when they encounter a guest. I have heard some rather defensively say, “Well what if I make a mistake, what if they are not really a visitor but a member?” Well, so what? Member or guest, we should always be free and generous with a smile and hello.
This should all go without saying. As a pastor I always asked our visitors if they were greeted warmly. And if I ever heard of a tepid welcome you can bet there was an announcement the next Sunday about remembering to welcome warmly our guests. No one was excused; everyone was expected to share the love of Christ with a smile and hello. If more conversation can follow, great! But at least a smile and hello. Pastors, leaders, let’s work hard to help make our congregations a place were everyone is welcomed warmly.
It is with great joy that we gathered to welcome a new pastor into our midst. Rev. Jon Dunbar was installed at St. Peter Lutheran Church, Hopewell Township on August 28th. Our pastors do a great job of encouraging one another and this was again the case as many were present for the installation. Welcome Jon! We look forward to getting to know you better and working with you for God’s kingdom.
This year it is with great joy and thanksgiving that we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our District. In 1972 the old Atlantic District was separated into three separate Districts; the New England, the Atlantic, and the New Jersey District. To remember and celebrate the focused ministry of the New Jersey District we will have a service of thanksgiving on Saturday October 29th at 3:00 pm at the Princeton University Chapel, Princeton University. Our hope is to have 500 worshippers gather (that’s just 10 from each congregation!) Three of our four living past and present District Presidents will be with us and the current District Presidents from Atlantic and New England will bring greetings.
Our theme is Christ: Our Past, Our Present, Our Future. We will remember, give thanks, and pray for God’s blessings on the ministry of the NJ District. We anticipate the joined voices of the congregation, the choir, and the special organ music all in the very special setting of the University Chapel. The worship folder will include a listing of our congregations and a brief history of the District. After the service there will be a reception in the courtyard outside the chapel. In the end it should be a wonderful day. We encourage you to come and bring at least 10 people from your congregation to help us reach that 500 in attendance mark.
To God be the glory!
Church Worker Appreciation
October is Church Worker Appreciation Month. President Harrison has written to all of our Synodical congregations and schools encouraging them to show thanks for the gift of pastors and other church workers. I would like to join him in encouraging you in this effort. A card or note of thanks and appreciation can mean a lot. Tell you pastor why you appreciate him. I always loved being with my people so it was very special when a group of leaders took Cheryl and I out to dinner (or even breakfast). Being a part of their lives on a casual basis and hearing a simple word like “Thank you for being our pastor” lifts and energizes the spirit. Your pastor and church workers will be better pastors and church workers when you thank and encourage them.
Small Church Clarity and Coaching Update
Our second round of Small Church Clarity has just begun this month focusing on the churches in the central and southern portions of our District. These churches will be meeting for four sessions in September, October, November and January. As with the first round, they will finish with a Master Plan for ministry for the next year. In addition, they will produce a publicity piece to hand out to visitors and at outreach events. We pray for God’s blessings on the seven churches participating.
We have now trained six coaches to work with those congregations involved with the Small Church Clarity. Coaches are not advisors or consultants (telling the congregations what to do) but rather those who guide congregations into greater diligence and deeper thinking to overcome barriers and remain on task. We pray these efforts will result in kingdom growth in these congregations.
As always, your District stand ready to help in as many ways as possible. The real ministry happens with you at the congregational level but we pledge to come along side of you for encouragement, support, and guidance whenever we can. Together we pray that God will grant a new season of growth among us.
God bless you,