DER: It is a blessing to officially begin as a new field worker at St. John Ellisville.
I have begun a series of in-depth visits with St. John's Director of Community Life, to learn about how they (with great effectiveness) do small groups, introductory membership classes, and new member assimilation.
I've also asked and received permission to attend some upcoming meetings of the Board of Directors, as I want to observe and learn how the staff leadership team effectively leads and partners with the board on matters of church strategy and business planning. My first board meeting observation will take place in early November.
In addition--and thanks in large part to a personal relationship one of my seminary brothers has--myself and the three other first-year St. John field workers have also been blessed by the willing partnership of T.F., a local St. Louis CPA businessman who is an active member of St. John. T.F. consults with business clients on missioning, visioning, strategic planning, operations and management, and the execution of business plans. He has begun formally and freely sharing with the four of us what he charges his clients thousands of dollars to receive. It is a tremendous blessing indeed! I would offer that the information he is sharing with us is vital for effective leadership in ministry. I wish more of our brothers-in-formation could receive the tremendous insights we are gaining, too. Unfortunately, our seminary does not offer such information as part of its classroom curriculum.
Coupled with the "on the side" training we are receiving from T.F., St. John has also paid for a professional church consultant, D.H., to visit with us several times throughout this first year to help us in similar ways. D.H. is an ordained pastor with nearly 30 years of parish ministry experience, who shares with us curriculum on developing effective mission and vision statements, strategic plans, and the like. A double blessing indeed!
And last but certainly not least, today was my first official opportunity to be part of the dynamic and uplifting worship services here at St. John. My job this first time through as a new field worker was simply to shadow and closely observe the lead Pastor and a second-year seminiarian throughout the morning as they communed the congregants, read the responsive prayers and liturgy, and the proclaimed the message and the Scriptures for the day. It was a tremendous behind-the-scenes look at how St. John conducts worship with excellence. I am grateful for the opportunity and look forward to personally reading and serving in a similar way soon.
I also learned today that I will begin teaching bible studies on Sunday mornings after the New Year, beginning with a portion of the Book of Romans. Interestingly enough, the Book of Romans was also the first book of the Bible I taught on at St. John's Bakersfield, many years ago.
All told, St. John is a wonderful "learning laboratory" for an eager, inquisitive, "type-A"-prone soul like me. I have been told (and am learning from first-hand experience) that if we are proactive and assertive and take personal responsibility for requesting opportunities to learn and grow at St. John, that the church leaders will give them to us in spades.
If my first 6 weeks are any indication of my next three or four years in this place, St. John Ellisville promises to be a Heaven-sent field work opportunity! Praise the Lord!!
And as always, thank you a thousand times over for your continued love, prayers, encouragement, and personal financial support! We would not and could not be here were it not for you and God's work through you.
God's love and blessings as we serve Him together,
Don, Stacye, and the girls :-)