Pastoral ponderings . . .

Since March 2020 when we went online in our worship and congregational life, through June 2021 when we came back to in-person/livestream worship in our sanctuary, Mount Tabor has experienced the changes that all congregations not only in the Rocky Mountain Synod but everywhere have had to navigate: living with Covid-19 in an increasingly hybrid society.

It’s certainly been a benchmark time for our congregation as we have navigated these uncharted waters together. Kind of like “fruit basket upset”!    But because of our small but uniquely gifted community, we are preparing to arrive together at Mount Tabor for an in-person Rally Sunday celebration on September 11.

We have a Mission as Mount Tabor that has guided us since 2011:  “An inclusive, compassionate community living God’s love in the world.”  Through the years we have explored that mission through community service and engagement with marginalized folks, environmental stewardship, exploring the common ground of faith and natural science that we uniquely walk together, and a diversity of musical expressions in our worship.

Today I sense that we are at a Kairos moment for discerning how we live that mission statement in these times. And we have an exceptionally gifted Synod staff who have created unique tools for us to effectively answer the big questions:  “Who are we today?”  “Where do we want to go in Mission?” and “How do we get there together?”

This fall our Rocky Mountain Synod Director for Evangelical Mission, Rev. Dana Peterson, will come to Mount Tabor to help us implement a program called “Vital Right-Shaped Ministry.” He says, Vital Right-Shaped Ministry is a viewpoint for doing and evaluating ministry, a lens through which congregations and other ministries in the Rocky Mountain Synod can look at themselves as they are and envision what they can become. It fits into our understanding of “Church Becoming” by asking our congregations and leaders to become self-aware and adapt for a thriving future. It will provide tools for congregations and rostered ministers to review their congregational life, set a course for their future, and strengthen both rostered ministers and those with whom they serve for their journey ahead.

This is an adaptive moment for the Church, a moment when all the technical, “rearrange the chairs” ways of doing things will undoubtedly prove inadequate to the moment.  In this moment of dis-ease and unsettledness, an innovative Church can connect with those who may have previously rejected the notion that God could speak to them through such an institution. 

Vital congregations create cultures that call members/friends/disciples to act out of their shared values to live into the mission of God in their context.  The mission is fueled by vision for their desired future and their discernment of God’s pull on them from God’s future.

Vital congregations will have engaged, mature leadership.  Their leaders will be increasing in their self-awareness and self-management, understand healthy systems, and be connected to their contexts.  The emotional intelligence of the congregation and its leaders is key to vitality.

A vital congregation will be able to innovate; they will be nimble and agile.  This means living as a learning organization…willing to experiment and fail, willing to engage in evaluation…what worked/what didn’t work/how do we make it better?”

I am excited for the conversations we can have together as siblings in Christ through VRSM about our future ministry together in downtown Salt Lake City.  We are uniquely gifted and positioned for great things!  I look forward to what God’s new creation at Tabor will look like!       Pastor David