For the last few months, the building mission and visioning teams, along with the church council and program staff, have been exploring Zumbro’s mission and ministry priorities.
In particular, we’ve been asking:
- Who are we?
- What are we passionate about doing?
- What are needs in our local setting that we feel compelled to address?
The more these leadership teams have talked, the more evident it has become that we need a clear why before we set out to make any changes to our facility. And that why can’t be only about us and our wants and wishes. It also must be about those we are trying to serve.
In July, I listed some of the highlights from the Missional Assessment Profile (MAP).
- We feel a strong sense of belonging to this place.
- We’re excited about our ministry.
- We see worship as the center of our life together.
- We view small groups as instrumental in giving us a sense of belonging and providing opportunities to work together with others.
There were a few concerns lifted up as well:
- People said that they are ready to embrace change, but there is some hesitancy about what that change might be and how much it will cost.
- People expressed some reservations about congregational leadership. I’m not exactly sure what those reservations are, but I have a hunch they’re related to the building process itself. People want their voices to be heard along the way, but many are feeling that they have not yet had the opportunity to share.
As the Directing Pastor of Zumbro, I want to do everything I can to highlight people’s concerns and to make sure they get a fair hearing. Here is a sampling of what people have been telling me:
- We need a clear sense of who we’re trying to serve, and why, before we make any decisions.
- We need to be careful about overspending and thus saddling future generations with debt.
- Our present building has served us well, but we have a number of deferred maintenance issues staring us in the face (an elevator that can no longer be repaired; a new roof needed over the sanctuary; air handlers waiting to be installed in our new HVAC system; aging plumbing and electrical systems; an organ that needs major refurbishing). We need to be mindful of the costs of deferred maintenance in whatever plans we are making.
- We should continue to explore our presence in downtown Rochester and what this means for our identity, especially as groups like DMC and UMR bring change to the neighborhood around us.
- We might want to consider doing a project like this in stages so funding and expenses can better keep pace with the church’s needs.
Please know that I’m not advocating for one position over another. I simply want people to be heard. And I want to make sure we approach whatever next steps we choose with our eyes wide open.
We’re not going to get all these issues settled at our visioning event on Saturday, Sept. 29. What we do hope to accomplish — with consultant Tom Jolivette’s help — is to become clear about our mission and ministry priorities for 2019 and beyond. As the majority of us move in this direction, and as we consider what we can accomplish together, hopefully we will gain the clarity we need to make some important decisions about our facility.
Please pray about this process. If at all possible, join the conversation on Saturday, Sept. 29. And if you have the time to do some extra reading, there are two excellent chapters from the book Transforming Church by Kevin Ford. They are entitled “Cloister/Missional” and are all about the challenges and opportunities of being a missional church. You can pick up a copy at the usher’s stand.