I sit in the fifth pew, lectern side, just about every Sunday. That’s a fact. But it doesn’t tell you much, does it? Is it because my children and grandchildren show up around there? Is it because that’s where I can hear best? Maybe because someone I love tells me to sit there? You can’t always tell much from the facts, can you? On the other hand, if you were to ask me why I sit there, it wouldn’t take you long to find out.
The Needs Assessment Task Force, formed to make recommendations on staffing at our church, partly because Pastor Rokke is retiring on October 31, 2017, partly because we need to think about staffing overall, shared many Church Facts last month. All by themselves, they really don’t tell us that much. It takes talking about them for the facts to take on meaning.
Here’s an example. Adam and Mike, adept at both analysis and spreadsheet, scoured our church database and determined with our pastors how many people call Saint James their church home. But what did the number mean? That we need more staff? Less staff? Different staffing roles? Different counters?
Try this fact. Our membership is equally divided among four major age quadrants. But what does that mean? That we have a healthy distribution of age groups? That we lack focus in our ministries? That our decades long focus on ministries to our youth and aging populations hasn’t made a difference? Or that it has?
One more? It’s a fact that attendance at our services over the last ten years has declined at about the same rate we see in other churches, but our offerings have increased over the same period. What does this mean in terms of staffing? You could draw different conclusions and support them with the facts.
The fact is the NATF has been bold about sharing Church Facts, but shy about interpreting them for our congregation. The member who has spent most of her decades at Saint James is going to have keen insights into what these facts tell us about our congregation, its strengths and weaknesses. But so will the teen who has just been confirmed. So will I when I see Saint James confirmation class pictures with dozens but also recall life in a new born congregation with one or two confirmed youth a year.
What our Church Facts mean for us as we consider our staffing needs is something seven NATF members can’t determine for Saint James. We all need to talk with each other, to synthesize meaning and direction from the facts. That is what our Town Hall meeting between the services on March 5th is for. Please come ready to talk.
In the month of March the NATF will begin to outline staffing options for Saint James Lutheran. We have waited this long because we have wanted to assess the facts of who we are and to hear what we collectively believe these facts mean. We have forced ourselves to have no preconceived direction, but to listen to what our fellow believers have to say.
But now we start. And we want to start with your voices ringing in our ears.