Congregational Business

Pastoral Transitions: Four Mission Assets

By Pastor Chris Smith

Know the Mission
Here’s a challenge for you: Print out and post Incarnation’s mission statement in a place where you’ll see it every day. Now, memorize it. Here it is: Filled by God’s grace, we feed the hungry in heart, body, mind and spirit.

It’s important that the people of a church know their mission. By knowing it, you can tell if your church and your own life reflect it. Knowing the mission is especially important during times of transition. The fact is, pastors come and go, but the mission remains as the guiding star for the congregation’s efforts.

Pastors Are Sojourners
A sojourner is a temporary resident. Most of the great figures of the Bible were sojourners, from Joseph in Egypt to the Apostle Paul who never stayed anywhere for very long. Pastors are sojourners, too. They are not permanent residents. It can feel like they’re permanent, if they stay a long time, but eventually they will conclude their service. Incarnation has had excellent sojourners in the past and I am confident that God will supply excellent ones in the future. But the constant is the people of the church and the mission in Christ that they aspire to accomplish. You are the owners of the mission. Your pastors and other staff partner with you to accomplish it. After sojourning here for three months it is clear to me that Incarnation is in a great place to accomplish its mission. Here are four reasons, call them four mission assets, for my confidence:

An Adaptable, Serving Church
The people of Incarnation completed the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) survey in 2014. The results of the CAT survey showed that Incarnation is a church that is adaptable and that it gains energy from ministries that focus on serving others. You continue to be a resilient and outward-focused community in pursuit of an inspiring mission. The next senior pastor will come alongside a community of faith already engaged in active and powerful ministry.

The Synod is a Helpful and Supportive Partner
The Saint Paul Area Synod and Bishop Lull in particular have been excellent partners in this time of pastoral transition. The Town Hall meeting with the Bishop in September was a very positive experience and provided the Call Committee with an effective springboard for the active call process. I have great confidence in synod staff and know that they will continue to provide the support Incarnation needs to emerge from transition on a very positive footing.

The Call Committee is Hard at Work
Most of you don’t get to observe the work of the Call Committee, but it’s been my privilege to witness part of their efforts. You could not find a more thoughtful, energetic, and discerning group of faithful people to do the work of identifying pastoral leadership. They know the mission and they understand the congregation. They also understand their role to find the most effective leader for the next chapter of mission at Incarnation. They will do well in recommending the next senior pastor to come alongside the work of an already vital congregation.

A Positive and Proactive Church Council
There is an old expression that the best way to respond to change is to prepare for it before it happens. Incarnation’s Church Council has been at work for several years to create an imaginative and aspirational strategic plan. The plan seeks to shape mission in a way that aligns with the mission statement of the congregation. The Council has not just prepared for change; they have acted to create change that will sustain mission for years to come. It’s an exciting time for a new pastoral leader to join the Council.

The Ministry Site Profile, approved at the Town Hall Meeting, highlighted these four mission assets along with a long list of other positive qualities of Incarnation’s ministry. As the Call Committee now begins the more intensive work of the call process, you can be sure that God will work through them to build on these assets by calling the next senior leader that Incarnation needs.

See You in Church,
Pastor Chris Smith, Interim Senior Pastor

MSP Document

The MSP is an extensive document that provides detailed information about the congregation and its ministry. Click here to view the MSP. Once the MSP is officially approved by the Synod and posted on the ELCA website, it is available for review by potential candidates for the call to serve as Senior Pastor at Incarnation. Please keep this meeting and the call process in your prayers.