Well, two months have flown by and I'm getting more and more comfortable in the position of your pastor. It truly is a pleasure to serve alongside you all in this way. I'm also very thankful for the financial support in being able to attend a continuing education conference in Minneapolis in July. Sponsored by Luther Seminary, the Faithful Innovation Summit was a three day conference focused on how to do church differently in a world where the typical church landscape has changed.
I was drawn in from the beginning, as worship began with a focus on John 15:1-11 (please do go and read this passage, it's so good!) which talks about Jesus being the true vine and that we should abide him in and his love. The speaker reflecting on the text reminded us that while pruning of a vine sounds like change, it's actually a very normal and necessary task. The whole point of pruning is either to cut away dead vines so new vines can grow, or we prune vines so that more fruit can continue to grow. In no way does pruning a plant or flower mean we have failed to take car of that plant-- we're actually trying to give growing success for the future.
This of course got all of us attendees thinking about our particular contexts and wondering where in our churches some pruning needs to happen. Pruning both of cutting out programs of tasks that no longer have life, and that need to be done away with in order for the whole church to grow, as well as pruning/tweaking good programs for them to continue to grow and bear more fruit. We were also reminded that innovation doesn't mean invention-- not everything needs to be new; maybe something just needs some rejuvenation.
Now I have to admit, it's hard to come back to "reality" after a conference, especially when you're only two months into a new call. I of course was inspired by so many great speakers and ideas; but at the same time, I realize I'm still very new to this call and still need to take time to get to know people and the two systems before really making any new ministry moves. However, that doesn't mean that YOU aren't able to do so!
I would love for you to take a look at Salem and Siloa and start thinking about where we might need to do some pruning. I definitely don't want this to be a pastor-led process, but a process that includes as many people as possible. We need to be looking into the future of the two congregations and seeing where we can do more to work together, inspire one another in our ministries, and lean on God's will for our congregations in relation to the world around us.
So take time in your, I'll bet, busy lives to pray on this matter and listen to what God is saying regarding our congregations. Be inspired by God's word for the future of our ministry together-- and then feel free to send me an email, text, or take some time to sit me down and let's chat about where your prayers have led you in your discernment about our pruning process. Let's allow God to direct our congregations into the future together and for the glory of God who has given us so much over our lifetimes.
Pastor Mary Fiel