Building Our Future
A summary of First Lutheran’s mission, vision and strategy to provide context for the building project as a tool for our ministry

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. – 2 Corinthians 9:12

Our Ministry
For the past three years, the Church Council has been directing a strategy aimed to grow our ministry in multiple ways under the pillars of “Worship, Witness, Grow, Serve.” Our call process, staffing model and building proposal are positioned to reflect these goals and provide needed resources to the areas that are targeted for growth and have the greatest opportunities for growth.

First Lutheran’s ministry strengths:

  • We have an active and inventive youth, family and education ministry, led by a full-time director, that is poised for growth
  • FLC has exemplary worship and music participation involving a wide cross-section of the congregation. We have dedicated worship leadership
  • Preaching is inspired, and our pastors are gifted Bible teachers
  • FLC has launched ecumenical outreach ministries that serve hundreds through the Food Pantry and the Decorah Free Clinic. We are seeking ways to expand our outreach ministries to address community challenges and concerns
  • Our visitation program is supported by a parish visitor and serves those in hospitals, area nursing homes and the homebound. This is an area of focus for expansion and resourcing

Principal Ministry Strategies

  • Worship: Maintaining FLC’s strong tradition of meaningful worship and music, and expanding the reach of this ministry by considering alternate worship models, times and styles.
  • Witness: Improving engagement and growing membership by starting a robust Small Group Ministry, Grow our digital ministry capacity and strategy. Increase visibility in the Decorah community.
  • Grow: Expand First Lutheran’s acclaimed Youth and Family program. Widen range of educational opportunities for adults. Develop the Affirmation of Baptism program into a cornerstone faith formation ministry of the congregation.
  • Serve: Expand opportunities to serve each other through caring teams, home communion visits and other programs. Congregation members have expressed they would like to see additional ministries and support for social and other community needs. Developing what will be the “new Food Pantry” or “new Free Clinic” will be important over the next several years.
  • Building: Addressing FLC’s building concerns while recognizing the opportunity to reimagine the building as a tool for our ministry has been an additional strategy since the church roof was discovered to be unstable in December of 2018. 

Priorities for 2021-2022

  1. Successful completion of our building project to enhance our physical space as a tool for ministry and community outreach
  2. Expand key areas of our ministry programming to promote growth and increase engagement, including Youth and Family Ministries, small group ministries, and programming to address community-wide social concerns
  3. Continued discussions around clarity of mission and expanding stewardship to help fund growth opportunities
  4. Continued discussion about needed transformation of our ministry for a new generation, including planning and resourcing a strategy for sharing First Lutheran’s ministry on a digital platform

Longer-term discussions (within the next 3-5 years)

  1. Plan and execute a First Lutheran-supported social ministry based on community needs
  2. Develop a strategy to reach out to area ELCA congregations to explore collaborative ministry opportunities and shared resources
  3. Explore potential partnerships for education and leadership training with Luther College and Wartburg Theological Seminary


Our Mission: First Lutheran Church, rooted in the Gospel of God’s grace, is a welcoming community of worship, witness, spiritual growth and ecumenical service to God and God’s people.

Our Vision: We will seek ways to live our value of being welcoming by addressing barriers to welcome, both physical and spiritual

  • We will provide fertile ground to cultivate and develop deeper relationships in our faith community so individuals feel more connected with God, their faith and each other
  • We will seek ways to actively share our faith in Jesus Christ at home, in the congregation and in our community
  • We will communicate a vision that will inspire and motivate the congregation to action.

Building priorities

  •  Executing a permanent repair solution for the sanctuary roof
    • Maintaining the historic exterior of FLC and the “skyline”
  • Addressing accessibility issues that are a barrier to being a truly welcoming ministry
    • Establishing a narthex for welcoming and transition into worship
    • Easy accessibility and line of sight to bathrooms and nursery space from the sanctuary
    • Replacing the elevator/access all levels
    • Solving for multiple, inaccessible levels and lack of space in the education wing
    • Flexible seating capacity, maintain “in the round” feel in the sanctuary
    • Consolidate entrances and provide obvious primary entrance points
    • Welcoming area to office suite – dedicated space that can be locked when staff are not present in building
  • Providing needed space for targeted growth areas (Youth and Family, social concerns, small group ministry)
    • Providing flexible and accessible space that allows independence and flexibility for ministries (for example, education space won’t be shared with Free Clinic)
  • Honoring First Lutheran’s rich history and ministry strengths while being flexible for future growth
    • Expanding space for Worship and Music ministry, including rehearsal space and storage
    • Increase/improve accessibility and playability of the organ
    • Maintain excellent musical acoustics and improve acoustics for preaching, congregational singing and amplification (use of microphones)
    • Consider infrastructure needs for digital ministry (Internet access for live streaming, etc.)

Important Note: Liturgical design of the sanctuary is not in scope for this phase of the project. A Task Force will be appointed to look at these considerations.

Building Project Timeline


December 3 – roof determined to be unstable

December 4 – announcement of immediate closure of FLC sanctuary and fellowship hall

December 5 – congregational meeting (informal)

December 17 – Phase 1 of stabilization: installation of cable ties across sanctuary

December 2018 worship was held in the Jenson-Noble Recital Hall at Luther College


January-May worship held in the Carriage House

March 13 – Congregational meeting, building update, discussion of visioning work

May – Phase 2 of stabilization: construction of six vertical columns in the sanctuary/fellowship hall

June 8, 2019 – worship returns to reconfigured and stabilized FLC sanctuary on Pentecost weekend

August – Building Task Force begins weekly meetings

September 10, 2019 – Council Approved hiring Kueny & Associates as architects & engineers (9 versions of drawings have been considered, with final version presented to the congregation in November 2020)

November 17 – Congregational meeting; vote to hire Kairos as campaign consultant

November 27 – Mission Assessment Profile (MAP) started

December 1 – 15 – MAP Survey Completed; 186 surveys submitted


January 7-9 – Listening sessions with Pastor Joe Crowther

Spring & Summer – Advance donor visits

November 8 – Presentation of building renovation plans/renderings to congregation


January 11 – Congregation meeting to vote on the proposed building project. This vote will:

  • Direct Kueny & Associates (architect firm) to move forward with finalized drawings
  • Begin the process of a detailed plan
  • Begin construction in late spring/early summer 

February 21 – Capital Campaign Kick-off
This is the public phase of our fundraising efforts for the building project. For the next two months, through worship, devotions, and more we will be talking about where this congregation is being called and how we can move the mission of First Lutheran forward together

March 21 – Commitment Sunday
We invite the congregation, after spending the past two months in worship and prayer, to make a financial commitment to move the project forward

Following Commitment Sunday, the architect and general contractor will begin the work

Once begun, expected construction timeline is 10-14 months 

Congregational meetings to date:

12/5/2018 – Congregational meeting, informal: to share news of sanctuary closure and next steps 

3/31/2019 – Congregational meeting, official: stabilization update and approval of short term financing to cover stabilization costs; discussion of visioning work

9/10/2019 – Church council meeting, official: approval of contract with Kueny Architects, LLC (Pleasant Prairie, WI)

10/13/2019 – Congregational meeting, informal: general update

11/17/2019 – Congregational meeting, official: approval of funds to contract with Kairos Consulting

11/8/2020 – Congregational meetings, informal: presentation of building renovations plans/renderings to congregation

Building Task Force

We are grateful for the gifts and the commitment of our Building Task Force:

Troy Whitehill, Adrian Walter, Kendra VanSloten, Greg McGohan, Paul Berland, Janice Kraabel, Mary Hart, Carrie Nimrod

Thanks to Sue Edison-Swift for her work in preparing campaign communications materials and ongoing campaign communications efforts

Other Resources

Kairos Listening Report

Building Project Frequently Asked Questions