Dear Leaders of our District,
As the summer draws quickly to a close and a new school year is upon us, I would like to share a few thoughts from our last Board of Directors meeting in June, both of which come out of my report to the Board.
First is our continued commitment to visitation. These first two years of office, my focus has been on building trust through transparency. I have thoroughly enjoyed the time to get out to the congregations of the district on Sunday mornings to join in Divine Service, listen to the preaching of our dedicated pastors, and join in the singing of God’s praise with His people.
I also spend time discussing with the laity during the education hour the local ministry taking place and challenges that confront us. I share a brief financial report of the district and the mission stories that result. I also share some of my reflections in what I observe in the visit, both affirming and encouraging. It is wonderful how faithful God is and truly amazing how blessed we are. We have our challenges, but God still does amazing things through his body the Church.
I usually also have lunch with the pastor and his family. This gives us some time to get to know each other a bit more. In that time I share a brief evaluation with some of my observations and encouragement. We need to work more on building each other up and challenging each other forward.
As a part of the emphasis of visitation, the Board of Directors has set goals for coming out to meet with church councils or other leadership groups. Vice Presidents have a schedule to visit the Circuit Visitors and hopefully their wives. And the Circuit Visitors have a three year plan to get out and visit each congregation.
With all of our busy schedules and priorities this is a challenge, but being face-to-face is so important for our walk together. The definition of “Synod” is “walking together.” One of my constant refrains is, “We can’t walk together if we don’t talk together, and we can’t talk together if we don’t get together.” Visitation is critical. God came and visited us in Jesus, the Christ. As we visit with one another, we bring his presence, his grace, and his encouragement.
This coming school year, those visits will encourage each congregation and individual to see themselves as visitors in each of our various vocations. I will be sharing several resources, including “Every One His Witness.” It is a great Video Bible Study from Concordia Publishing House to help each one of us intentionally look for opportunities in each of our vocations to bring God’s healing Word to broken lives. In 30 years of ministry, it is one of the best resources I have ever seen.