Our Next Steps

Our Next Steps
By Pastor Matt

In early February, leaders from Holy Cross and Living Word got together to discuss what could be a new future for the Lutheran churches in North Oakland County, a way of working together for the proclamation of the good news of Jesus.

We’re already laying the groundwork for cooperation with groups of youth, women and men meeting together to encourage one another. Our youth group meetings have experienced a surge in attendance. Our men gathered for an inaugural meeting this week at Legacy 925. It was a blast! Watch a quick recap of the night.

At the meeting between leaders from Holy Cross and Living Word, we laid out the idea for a way forward together for our churches and how it could have a lasting impact in our area. We talked about the excitement each church had about the possibilities and how we could establish the Lutheran church in North Oakland to last for generations. We asked about what hurdles we would face trying to head toward this future.

One analogy shared was the idea of a sled dog team. Essentially, Holy Cross and Living Word have an opportunity to drive the discussion. We get to set the direction and invite others to clip in and be part of the team as we drive forward, and strengthen our churches to share in Jesus’ mission.

At the end of the meeting, some next steps were discussed and agreed to share the way forward in light of this new mission opportunity. First, the leaders from each church would go back and relate what was discussed. The Holy Cross meeting was Monday night. Living Word is scheduled to meet Sunday. Second, the leaders would convene a second meeting to share what was discussed at each church’s meeting. Third, there would be a shared all-congregation fun day and worship experience. Fourth, Holy Cross would invite Living Word to share one building, so that the two churches could begin to rub shoulders and build growing relationships. All the while, we would be seeking answers from the Michigan District about the formalities of entering into this new mission paradigm.

In the discussion Monday night, we talked about the excitement and potential this new mission could bring to our Lutheran churches in North Oakland county. There’s an opportunity for our Lutheran churches to cooperate with one another instead of compete with one another. We can pool our resources and do things together which we would never be able to do individually. We can reimagine how we utilize our facilities to equip our people and launch them into their homes, schools and workplaces to share the Gospel. We talked about the challenges which we would face in a new mission. We would have multiple cultures coming together, and would need a primary mission focus for people to rally behind. We would have to set aside each of our individual identities and seek after an identity that would welcome all to engage. We talked about some of the hurdles we’d face financially, and how we would need our treasurers to get together to start working on a business plan and financial viability of such a mission. There were questions we didn’t have answers for yet, but that we would seek to answer as we step into the future together. What sort of third-party help can we expect from the Michigan District or other Lutheran organizations? What steps would it take to create the new mission organization?

Last Summer, I invited every congregation in North Oakland to my house to start the conversation about life together. More than thirty people from six of the congregations came, and we talked about our shared future. As exciting as these first steps can be, I actually believe that taking each subsequent step is even harder and more challenging. It’s relatively easy to talk about what we’re facing, and some of the things we can do, but it’s tremendously harder to step out in faith to work on the problems and seek real solutions to the issues.

How can we be stronger together for the sake of our communities to which we are all, pastors and people, called to serve? There’s a new reality our churches are facing which we haven’t had to face in a long time. If our churches are to survive, we need everyone to contribute.