Zion Lutheran Church Transition Team Report June 2018 A. BEGINNING

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1 Zion Lutheran Church Transition Team Report June 2018 A. BEGINNING Zion Lutheran began a pastoral transition with the retirement of Pastors Loren and Linda Schumacher at the end of August Pastor Loren Anderson-Bauer began his time as Intentional Interim Pastor at Zion Lutheran on October 1, Pastor Anderson-Bauer recommended that Zion Church Council appoint a Transition Team to help the congregation evaluate priorities and direction as it moves into the call process. The congregation was invited to nominate people to be on this team. In December the Church council appointed the follow to the Transition Team: Rebecca Bills, Jennifer Hall, Phil Johnson, Brian Laurie, Tom Martinson, Bob Nelson, Jackie Nelson, and Arnelda Southworth. The Transition Team s goal was to help the congregation reflect on where we have been? where we are now? and where we are going? The specific work of the Transition Team would include some or all of the following: Assist the interim pastor in oversight of the transition period at Zion Address grief issues and unresolved conflicts Revisit Congregation s history to help discover strengths in its heritage Clarify the vision of the congregation for its mission and ministry for the next five to ten years Develop a mission plan to achieve the vision of the congregation Strengthen connections to the Synod and the ELCA Conduct leadership development training in Healthy Congregations Make recommendations regarding congregation structure and staffing to move ahead in the vision set forth in the mission plan Address other issues that arise during the transition period The team held its first meeting on January 2, Bob Nelson was selected to be chairperson for the team. Members shared responsibility for keeping notes for the meetings and bringing devotions to begin each meeting. The team spent its first meetings deciding on the scope and direction of the work of the team. Pastor Loren led a workshop on Healthy Congregations for both Church Council and Transition Team Members. This workshop helped participants understand how leadership can respond rather than react when anxiety in the congregation begins to create conflict. Pastor Loren also clarified the dynamics of different sized congregations. Zion has characteristics of both a program-sized church and a pastoral-sized church, though the number of activities, groups, and programs in the congregation make it more like a program-sized church. The concern, as the congregation has become smaller in the last ten years, is whether there is enough energy among the people to sustain the programs and activities that have been part of the congregation in the past.

2 B. LISTENING To understand the priorities and direction for the congregation the Transition Team first needed to listen to the congregation. There were two ways that the Team did this. In February people at Zion had the opportunity to respond with a Congregation Survey. The Team read the responses to these questions, and based on those responses, identified ten ministry priorities. Then, in April, during two Sunday Fellowship hours, people had an opportunity to reflect on those priorities and indicate which they felt were the most important as Zion prepares to call its next pastor. 1. CONGREGATION SURVEY The Congregation Survey was mailed to members in early February and was made available through the congregation s web page, on Facebook, and as a bulletin insert for several Sundays. The Survey included four items: 1. What are your top three reasons for being involved with Zion? 2. Please list up to three things that you see as strengths of Zion. 3. Zion would be stronger if 4. What hopes do you have for Zion in the next five years? The survey also gathered information about the age of the people who responded to the survey. Approximately 80 surveys were returned. All the Transition Team members had an opportunity to read each of the surveys that was returned. While the comments varied, the Transition Team summarized the responses into groups that focused on similar themes. The following are the most significant responses to the survey items. 1. What are your top three reasons for being involved with Zion? Friendship and support My church family Worship God Grow in faith All age groups involved Music and choir We are welcomed Youth programs 2. Please list up to three things that you see as strengths of Zion. Great people, participation, community People are welcoming and positive People help others Many activities Nice building, room to grow Safe place, open to everyone New Wine Good youth director 3. Zion would be stronger if Support young families Greater attendance More fun / familiar songs More young adult ministry 2

3 4. What hopes do you have for Zion in the next five years? Change to get young families Grow as a church Get young families involved Help others Continue New Wine Minister to all members 2. TALKING TOGETHER As the Transition Team reflected on the survey responses, they identified ten priorities for ministry that were the major themes that bubbled up in the surveys. On April 15 and 22 the congregation was invited to engage in conversation about the priorities for ministry at Zion during the fellowship hour. There were just over 40 people involved in each of these discussions. People first identified which five of the ten priorities they thought were most important. Then each table had time to discuss and come to agreement. We then tabulated the number of tables as they identified the most important priorities. The list of priorities in order of important at these two events is as follows: Welcoming all people and engaging all generations. (11) Honoring traditions while being open to change and new ideas. (11) Nurturing friendship and support among people at Zion. (7) Finding innovative ways to attract new members of all ages. (7) Maintaining New Wine as a vital ministry of Zion and the community. (6) Worshipping God together to grow in grace through message and music. (6) Engaging the congregation in community service and outreach. (5) Supporting effective pastoral, administrative, and lay leadership to guide our ministries. (5) Strengthening youth ministry in collaboration with Our Savior s. (3) Improving communication through multiple channels. (1) In addition to ranking the priorities, a number of issues were raised in discussion for the Transition Team to address before they complete their work. 1) What should be the relationship between Zion and Our Savior s? 2) What pastoral and program staff do we currently need at Zion? 3) How do finances factor in shaping the congregation s ministry? 4) How does our ministry to elders who are in care facilities or home bound connect to the ministry priorities for Zion? 5) How do we explore contemporary worship opportunities at Zion? 3

4 C. THEMES In reflecting on both the survey responses and the conversation regarding ministry priorities, the Transition Team identified the following themes of focus as Zion makes plans for its next chapter of ministry. 1. WELCOME. Zion seeks to be a place where everyone knows that they are valued and welcomed, where people of every age, gender, race, sexual orientation, and physical or mental ability find a place they can live their faith in a supportive and welcoming community. 2. WORSHIP. Worship is the center of Zion s congregational life. Our music in both traditional and more contemporary styles enriches our praise of God and strengthens our sense of God s grace. The proclamation of God s word connects God s love to our daily lives, so we can grow in grace and share Christ s love. 3. TRADITIONS AND CHANGE. Zion values its Lutheran heritage and tradition and reflects these in its worship and activities. At the same time Zion seeks to be open to new ideas and innovative ways of doing things. We especially seek to develop more contemporary worship options. 4. CHURCH COMMUNITY. As members of God s family, we seek to support one another in our life together. We look to create opportunities that can help strengthen the bonds of friendship and community and that can break down generational divisions. We take special care to include elders who are home bound or live in assisted care facilities in our circle of care. 5. YOUTH. Zion s ministry to and with youth and families nurtures faith formation as it encourages the involvement of children and youth in all areas of congregational life. Our collaboration with Our Savior s Lutheran seeks to strengthen the youth ministry of both congregations. 6. NEW WINE. New Wine has a long history at Zion of building a faith community among high school youth through music and drama. This is an important ministry in our community and Zion is committed to guiding and supporting this ministry so that it can remain a vital ministry of the congregation. 7. OUTREACH AND SERVICE. Zion strives to be a blessing beyond our congregation, attentive to the many needs that are present in our community, actively seeking ways that we can provide assistance to address those needs and advocating for social justice. 8. LEADERSHIP. The ministry of Zion requires solid pastoral, administrative, and lay leadership to guide and encourage the energy and commitment of volunteers in the church. The congregation supports this leadership with prayer, encouragement, and fair compensation for staff. 9. COMMUNICATION. Clear and transparent communication is an important part of any organization. Zion seeks to keep up-to-date technology and use appropriate communication channels to pass information to the congregation and community. 4

5 1. COLLABORATION. D. ADDITIONAL ISSUES In the past few years the Youth Directors at Zion and Our Savior s Lutheran Churches have worked in collaboration to strengthen the youth ministry programing for High School and Middle School youth. This collaboration has yielded positive results for the youth ministry of both congregations. A six-member Shared Youth Ministry Team (3 from each congregation) has been appointed by the two church councils to: o Provide oversight for an ongoing shared Our Savior s/zion Youth Ministry, o Explore additional Youth Ministry programming opportunities moving forward, o Provide support for paid Youth Ministry staff for this shared ministry, o Creatively explore ways to increase the number and quality of faithful relationships with all area youth, o Assure the shared Youth Ministry remains in keeping with the faith practices and teachings of Our Savior s and Zion Lutheran Churches. This team will report regularly to the church councils of each congregation. In addition to this intentional collaboration with Our Savior s around youth ministry, there have been other ways that the congregations have worked together to strengthen their ministries. Day Camp is jointly organized and funded by Zion, Our Savior s and Bethesda. Also, God s Work, Our Hands Sunday is a collaborative effort of seven area churches of several denominations. New Wine, while a ministry of Zion, involves youth and volunteers from 20 area congregations. The question is whether there is more collaboration that can or should happen between Zion and Our Savior s. Representatives from both church councils have met with the goal of exploring how in working together we can strengthen the ministries of our two congregations. Some people from both congregations have raised the question of whether Zion and Our Savior s should find ways of sharing staff or merging the two congregations. At this time, both congregations are viable as they are. When the cost of maintaining two facilities forces the congregations to cut back on their ministry, then looking carefully at merging may be advisable. The Transition Team does not believe that Zion is ready for merger at this time, though continued conversations in working together are recommended. 2. STAFFING. Zion has had two pastors on its staff for many years. Declining attendance and membership over the last decade indicate that two pastors are no longer necessary. In the past few years the program staff has included two pastors and a part-time youth director. In comparison to other congregations in our synod, this is more program staff than normal for congregations with a worship attendance of In reflecting on the dynamics of congregation size, Zion continues to function more as a program sized church than a pastoral sized church. In a pastoral sized church, the focus is on the personal relationship between members and the pastor. That relationship is also important in a program sized church, though members connect to the church through the programs and activities that connect them to one another, and this is more important than their relationship to the pastor. The pastor in a program sized church needs to focus on organizing and overseeing the various activities and programs of the congregation. 5

6 As Zion moves to only one pastor, it is important that lay volunteers take on leadership for the many programs and activities of the congregation. The pastor s role regarding programming should primarily be administration, oversight, coordination and leadership support. If the pastor ends up planning and organizing the bulk of the congregation s programs and activities they will overwork themselves and fall short in areas of primary responsibility such as pastoral care or worship leadership. Zion s programs and activities require the coordination of many volunteers. The complexity of the congregation requires a skilled Administrative Assistant to coordinate the calendar, communications, committee work, volunteers, as well as the many clerical tasks of the church office. The Transition Team believes that the congregation would be best served if this was a full-time position. Because youth ministry requires intense commitment in both organizing programs and activities and developing one on one relationships with young people it is important to have a youth director who can take primary responsibility for this ministry. Youth ministry is focused on relationships. A full-time youth director who can develop healthy mentoring relationships with young people for the length of their time in middle school and high school is ideal. Perhaps the most work intensive program at Zion is New Wine. As the program began in the 1990s Pastor Todd Mattson dedicated a significant portion of his time to this program. When he left Zion, volunteers stepped up to lead this program. It now functions primarily with the volunteer leadership of many people, including many who are not members of Zion. It also requires some level of oversight and support from both the pastor and office staff. As the personnel committee shapes job descriptions for the pastor and youth director, their roles in the New Wine program should be identified. 3. FINANCES. The finances of the congregation seem stable and sound. The congregation has comfortable savings, especially from the sale of property to Kwik Trip, but also memorial and other funds. The congregation has a history of generous support from members for its ministry. However, as the congregation declined in size over the last decade, giving did not increase to cover the cost of staff compensation. As a result the pastors compensation fell significantly below synod guidelines. With the current shortage of pastors in the ELCA it will be important for Zion offer fair and competitive compensation to its next pastor. The congregation also needs to make sure that all staff at Zion receive fair compensation. The synod assembly endorses compensation guidelines for all church staff, and the Transition Team believe that Zion should make every effort to meet or exceed those guidelines in its compensation for all staff. The tendency, when planning compensation, is to first assess the giving of the congregation and base staff compensation on the level of giving. Staff must then absorb any shortfall through reductions in compensation or delays in raises. The process should rather begin with the cost of fair compensation for staff. If giving is not sufficient to meet that cost, the congregation needs to be challenged to increase giving to meet the fair compensation cost for staff. If the congregation is unable to increase giving, then staff should be reduced. There needs to be regular stewardship emphasis among church members. This should not focus on meeting the budget, but on how we are given management of resources (time, talents, treasure) that finally belong to God. This includes all that we have, not just that portion that we 6

7 give to the church. As followers of Jesus we are called to use all that we have for God s purposes in our lives, in our church, in our community, and in the world. It is also important that there be clear communication and transparency regarding financial matters. A simple monthly report should be available to the congregation and members should have access to details if they want to understand more. 4. MUSIC. Regarding worship and music, the surveys indicated both affirmation for the quality of the congregation s worship and music as well as a desire to explore more contemporary styles in worship and music. It seems that what some people deeply appreciate others find less inspiring. The challenge for worship and music leadership is to create balance between traditional and contemporary styles for worship and music. Over the summer of 2018 the Wednesday worship will attempt to be more a more contemporary or camp style worship. Perhaps this will be an opportunity to recruit musicians who would be willing to lead a more contemporary worship. Leadership will need to evaluate how different styles of music can best be balanced in the regular worship, but the interest in some form of contemporary music, as indicated in the congregational surveys, suggests that this area needs to be explored. E. RECOMMENDATIONS Based on what they have learned through the congregation surveys, the Talking Together events, ongoing conversations with congregation members, and discussions during the team s meetings, the Transition Team makes the following recommendations to Zion congregation leadership. 1. COLLABORATION We recommend that Zion continue collaborative work with other congregations and especially with Our Savior s Lutheran. We do not believe that the two churches should move toward any kind of merger at this time, but representatives should meet regularly to explore how we can strengthen the ministry of our two congregations by working together. 2. STAFFING We recommend that Zion have one full-time Pastor, a full-time Youth Director, and a full-time Administrative Assistant. There was discussion regarding sharing a Youth Director with Our Savior s, but we believe that it is better if each congregation has their own Youth Director and that the two Youth Directors continue to work together with programming and activities. In terms of timing, there is some concern that the new pastor should be called before the congregation hires a Youth Director, however, it is also important that the congregation have leadership in place for youth programing as soon as possible. The council will need to evaluate how to proceed with both these concerns in mind. 3. JOB DESCRIPTIONS We recommend that a Job Description for the pastor be written before the Call Committee begins the interview process. The congregation s constitution includes a list of the pastor s responsibilities, but a job description specific to Zion will clarify the leadership and oversight responsibilities of the pastor. A new job description for the Youth Director should also be written before interviewing for that position begins. 4. WORSHIP AND MUSIC We recommend that worship and music leadership explore opportunities to incorporate some form of contemporary style worship along with our traditional music. 7

8 5. NEW WINE We recommend that New Wine continue as a significant ministry of Zion Lutheran. While many volunteers for this ministry are not members of Zion the ministry itself belongs to Zion. This ministry needs pastoral oversight, guidance and support, it needs assistance from administrative staff, and it needs continued support from congregation members. 6. PROGRAM SIZE We recommend that leadership understand the dynamics of program sized congregations, and that while Zion is smaller than most program sized churches, it still functions primarily as a program sized church. That puts some pressure on volunteers, and leadership should be willing to discontinue activities when there is no longer the energy from volunteers to organize and implement them. 7. STRATEGIC MISSION PLANNING We recommend that the congregation continue the work that the Transition Team began by developing a strategic mission plan that would identify the congregation s mission, vision, and core values, together with goals and objectives for the next five years. 8. FACILITY USE We recommend that Zion continue to welcome community groups to use the church facilities for programs and activities. Currently Kid s Corner, Scouts, AA and other occasional groups use Zion s facilities for their activities. We encourage building upkeep and building use policies that welcome groups in our community. 9. VOLUNTEERS We recommend that staff and lay leadership explore creative ways to recruit and support the many volunteers needed to sustain the many programs and activities of the congregation. We especially encourage leaders to invite new people to participate and become leaders, and to find welcoming ways to mentor them in the various activities of the church. 10. FINANCES We recommend that all members be challenged to grow in faithful financial stewardship, that compensation for all staff meet or exceed synod guidelines, and that there be clear and transparent communication with the congregation regarding the church s finances. 11. WELCOME We recommend that Zion continue its commitment to welcome all people into the family of God and into the fellowship of Zion Lutheran. We encourage creative and intentional ways to welcome all people so that Zion is truly a place where everyone knows that they are valued and where people of every age, gender, race, sexual orientation, and physical or mental ability find a place they can live their faith in a supportive and welcoming community. 8

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