We have some exciting news and an organizational update to share with you! There have been many moving parts leading up to this announcement that require a bit of an extended explanation, but it will lead to a more complete understanding—thanks for taking the time to read through and stay connected!
As you know, Dale Hittle was presented to the congregation as an Elder candidate in October. We are excited to announce the Elders have unanimously approved Dale as an Elder and he will start in this role at the November Elder’s meeting.
In case you missed the live announcement, the Elders have blessed Brandon with a 3-month sabbatical for the months of November, December, and January. For those unfamiliar with a sabbatical, it is an intentional time of rest, study, and rejuvenation. Brandon has faithfully served Lake Superior Christian Church for 17 years and it is time for a much-deserved rest as we have some bigs things around the corner in 2020. You can expect Brandon (and family) to still be around, so we would invite and encourage you to show him your appreciation!
Please continue to keep the Learning Center in prayer. We received approval from the state licensing agency to start construction, so that should start soon. We intend on continuing all of the same classes and services you are used to during the construction phase, but your grace is appreciated if things are a bit messy or rooms temporarily change. We’ll continue to keep you updated on the process!
Worship Leader Candidate
LSCC has invited Robert Smith to join us on November 17 as a candidate for the Worship Director position. We anticipate this might prompt several questions. Let us explain the what and why by providing more context.
We need to first talk about evaluation and communication. Let’s start with communication. This is an area that churches can struggle with. Certainly, there are those reading this communication right now and wondering, “Why are they telling me this?” There are those that won’t bother to read it. And, there are those that are wondering why they weren’t told something sooner. We really do our best in evaluating what to say, how to say it, and when, but it’s a constantly moving target. We will continue to evaluate ways we can communicate and strive for continual improvement in that area.
Evaluation is critical to the success of every good organization and the church is no different. This is something we are constantly doing. You’ve heard us say that we look at what we do, how we do it, and why and we encourage you to ask questions in the same way. While this can be hard in any organization, it can be especially so in a church because it feels like family—we get accustomed to certain leaders, volunteers, ministries, and programs. It is our intention to continually evaluate by discerning God’s will and following His call.
As we were evaluating things in late 2018, we recognized a shift in one of our ministries was needed. As you may recall, Justin Landis was brought to LSCC in the dual role of Worship & Youth Pastor. As much as we might want it to be a 50/50 split, this is often not the case in dual roles—one area gets more attention than the other. This is normal despite best intentions and efforts. In this case, more time was devoted to the worship side than youth and we believed that needed to be the opposite early in 2019.
So, at the Annual Meeting in January 2019, we let you know that Justin would soon be spending the majority of his time in youth ministry, while sliding to a support role in worship. This took effect in early March and was possible for two primary reasons. One, we have a very talented and dedicated group of volunteers on the worship team that have and continue to step up. And two, Walter Aho was able to set aside some of his media and tech responsibilities to focus on directing the worship team, primarily in an administrative way. For most in the congregation, this shift likely went unnoticed as Justin still is a part of the worship team most weeks.
Another shift that was planned for 2019 was to reduce how often Brandon would be teaching on Sunday mornings. Brandon does an excellent job, but sermon preparation and delivery is very time-consuming and the church has other areas where Brandon is needed and equipped for. As well, Justin had shown the ability to connect from the stage in late 2018. This shared approach is something you noticed as we went through the first half of 2019 and more so into the summer. We recognized the benefits of this approach internally and we were also getting great feedback from the congregation. In fact, you’ll recall a message in August where Cory indicated shared teaching was something we intended on carrying forward. Simply put, it seemed we all valued multiple voices, perspectives, and styles.
In early summer, as we evaluated the first half of the year, we felt a pull in two areas: our mission/vision and the area of personal connections.
While Matthew 28 and “Introduce, Instruct, and Imitate” have served LSCC well over the past several years, we felt led to create a new mission/vision that children, youth, and adults alike would know, own, and repeat. We began using the phrase, “Love God, love others, be the church” in mid-August and it became immediately apparent the church was taking ownership of the phrase. As you’ve noticed, we have continued using this phrase and we intend on adopting this as our mission/vision moving forward.
Regarding personal connections, we believed that we could be doing better and we focused on two areas—we called them the front door/back door. For us, the front door means things like first time guest experience, follow-ups, assimilation, events, and meeting with people. The back door is about creating opportunities for deeper connection through intentional discipleship, Bible study, and classes.
Recognizing these two areas of need led to working through how we could address them. We believed the first place to start was to evaluate the staff and the various duties and responsibilities they had. Essentially, we were asking if we had the answers already on staff, or if we needed to consider hiring.
We looked at staff strengths, personalities, and spiritual gifting. It was apparent that God’s hand was already at work. By shifting some duties and responsibilities around, the staff not only would be working almost exclusively in areas of strength, it also seemed to address the two biggest needs we identified. Specifically, the shared teaching structure described above would allow Brandon and Justin to intentionally focus in another areas: Brandon on the front door and Justin on the back door. I’m sure you’ll immediately recognize what the Elders and staff did—both are wired for and excel in these areas.
To accomplish this shift, two more things would need to happen. First, Justin would need to be released from youth leadership responsibilities, which would require either LSCC hiring a new youth leader or looking internally. God has blessed us with Dale & Liz Hittle and Will & Kymm Kooy as lay leaders, along with another 8 assistants. They’ve agreed to leading for the 2019/2020 school year. We’ve all seen the fruit of this new energy and attention in the past two months as each Sunday around 15 5th & 6th graders leave service after worship to attend their own study.
The second thing that needed to happen was to shift Walter back to full-time Media & Tech. This is where Walter thrives and we’ve seen the fruit of his gifting in the Easter productions the past several years, the LSCC commercial that plays on television and in the movie theatre, and the various graphics and animations used. Shifting him back into a full-time role in this area will allow LSCC to refocus in areas of media production not just for the church, but also as a blessing to our local partners and community. And this brings us full circle back to the worship leader position.
When we identified many of the things just described over the summer, we started a “soft” search for a worship leader. However, we believed in our staff culture and worship team and wanted to be very specific about what qualities we desired the candidate to have. Robert Smith comes to us as a professional music producer, sound engineer, singer, and with the ability to play and teach multiple instruments. We believe his skill set can take our worship team to new levels and, over time, use music and worship to further engage the Marquette County community. We are very excited to bring him here next week. He will be leading worship on Sunday, November 17.
To be sure, despite much of this being worked out over the course of the past year, we’re still very much on the front end. We believe these changes benefit the staff, the congregation, and most important, our impact for Christ in this community. We ask for your continued grace as we work out the details and we’ll continue to keep you updated along the way. We would covet your prayers as we continue to seek God’s will and follow His call!