WHERE ARE WE? A CONVERSATION ON THE STATUS OF THE CAPITAL APPEAL
Below are summary notes recapping the presentation given by by Pr. Joe Crowther, FLC’s Kairos Consultant, at the 21 February 2021 FLC Town Hall meeting on the building-project process, via zoom. Here’s the link to watch the presentation.

Sixty-three people/households participated in the town hall meeting via Zoom. There were 17 gathered in the Fellowship Hall. For expedited reading, the notes start with Pr. Joe’s summary remarks and then returns to chronological order. A time code, for example [13:26], will help you find the corresponding section in the recording.

FACTORS THAT ENCOURAGE FLC’S BUILDING PROJECT/CAPITAL CAMPAIGN [13:26]

  • All the important markers are in place:
    • Allegiance to mission
    • Trust in leadership
    • Trust in financial integrity
    • Commitment of leadership
  • Missional DNA
  • Generosity demonstrated to date

FACTORS THAT COULD DISCOURAGE [15:24]

  • Pandemic concerns
    • Kairos is finding if there are “ministry cracks” (issues, trends) in the congregation, the pandemic has amplified or accelerated it (not created it).
    • Congregations have entered a wilderness time, a helpful time, asking questions of identity and purpose. Many have just “hunkered down.”
    • While most congregations were asking, “How do we survive?” FLC was asking the deeper missional questions. Kudos to our leadership for being bold at a time when it hasn’t necessarily been easy to be bold.
    • All of Pr. Joe’s data collection was completed before the pandemic. He has no reason to believe the mid-pandemic data would be different.
    • The more tightly a congregation’s ministry revolves around [only] worship, the greater the impact of COVID on ministry. A missional orientation, like FLC’s, adds to the sense of purpose at such a time.
  • Concern about the senior pastor position
    • “First is one of the least pastor-centric congregations” Pr. Joe has worked with. “That’s good. The more dispensable a pastor is, the healthier the congregation.”
    • The introspective work that FLC has done to prepare for the building project well-serves the congregation now. Instead of asking a senior-pastor candidate, “Where are you going to take us?” the question becomes “Here’s where we are going. Can you be a shepherd and come alongside to help?”
  • Straying from the mission
    • It’s imperative this project remains mission-centered. If the initiative is primarily about a building, even if it is successful from a financial perspective, it will not be successful from a ministry perspective.
    • The initiative is mission-motivated. The building is the necessary “tool” to accomplish that mission. It’s the why that motivates, not the what.
  • The “Wait and See” Approach
    • The purpose of the campaign is to raise resources for the mission. It is NOT to “see if we have enough to make this happen.”
    • A “Yes” vote in March states that some type of building project will take place. Embrace the campaign boldly.

THE LISTENING PROCESS [02:11] – Read the full listening report here.

  • Missional  Assessment Profile (MAP Survey) [03:11]
    • December 2019, 186 respondents (71% of average worship attendance)–excellent participation.
    • Demographics: Highly educated congregation. Almost a quarter taking the survey have members less than 6 years. “Most live fairly close to the church and come fairly often.”
    • Primary markers of “Excitement” and “Sense of Belonging” are strong.
    • Strong trust in leadership
    • Some ministry “fans” aren’t sure how to make their way onto the playing field. Trying to access the ministry, how to be a part of FLC. Some work needed there.
    • Some evangelical sluggishness. We like what’s happening at the church but aren’t necessarily talking about it.
    • Much to be gained about an intentional conversation about generosity and stewardship.
    • FLC has an impressively dynamic missional DNA. “Missional” means having a sense of purpose for the people who aren’t members, for the sake of the world, to be a blessing for other people, looking outward.
    • Theologically progressive.
    • Despite lack of clarity in the project at the time of the survey, there was a strong commitment to support the project that emerged. 
  • Onsite Deep Listening [07:03]
    • January 7-9, 2020. 90 interviewed, either one-to-one or in small groups.
    • Common, unifying narrative regarding “what we do well” at FLC. Need to give some attention to translating that narrative into a clear ministry vision.
    • FLC is truly and genuinely missional at heart
    • Congregation has very disparate opinions about many areas of ministry, but members “disagree well.” 
    • 71% of MAP respondents feel it is important for FLC to make changes in order to live out its mission, and the listening sessions backs that up. They are on “ready.”
  • Community Audit [09:11]
    • Completed by Carol Birkland and Tom Skold
    • “If the community issues surfaced by the community audit [including lack of affordable housing and childcare] are not addressed, Decorah will lose a critically important resource for its continuing sustainability: young families who will live here, thrive and contribute to the economy. Tourists and retired folks cannot do this.”
    • “Decorah needs to learn the ‘Art of the Long View.’”
  • MAP+ – Insights from the survey confirmed with listening.
    • FLC prioritizes mission. [11:21]
      • Pr. Joe has never experienced a congregation where the top 3 priorities were “Es” (Entrepreneurial):
      • #1 Advocating to improve the situations of those living in poverty within the community. (E)
      • #2 Exploring new and innovative ways to be church in today’s culture. (E)
      • #3 Collaborating with other area civic and service organizations to better respond to the needs of the community. (E)
    • Members have “significant financial intention.” [12:36]
      • At the time of the survey (December 2019), 50% of the respondents said they planned to give more in the coming year, 45% said the same, 3% significantly more, 2% less.
      • Our giving is motivated by personal faith and stewardship (#1) and the FLC’s effectiveness in “making a real difference in my life and the lives of others” (#2). Notably, respondents ranked “The current state of the economy” last (#5) among their giving motivations.

Perspective [23:33]

“You’re putting up a space where ‘the doors swing both ways,’” concluded Pr. Joe. “A place where people come in and enjoy epic hospitality and then, after being fed with the Gospel, they will go out and change the world. They will go out into the community and bring the hope that a missional community can bring.”