It is important for churches to take time for discernment. Our congregation is participating in a nationally recognized program called the R3 initiative—reFORM, reNEW, reVISION—that creates opportunities for just that. Since September 2019, a team from St. Stephen has met every other month with leaders and other congregations to explore issues such as discipleship, connecting with members and community, and best plans and practices. This team then brings projects and conversations back to the congregation for deeper exploration.
In early 2020, congregation members participated in the Into the Pews project where we talked to one another over a series of Sundays about the assets, “wows,” and needs we each saw in our church and our local area. Everyone’s responses were typed up in a master list for reference. In March, the focus shifted to the local community with interviews of various businesses, nonprofits, and individuals. These interviews are still ongoing due to challenges related to the pandemic. We hope to finish them this summer. The intent is to look at both documents, when completed, to better discern and understand our purpose. Specifically, what is God calling St Stephen to do in this time and place?
Our congregation had been hosting the trainings until they moved to Zoom for health reasons. Any member who wants to participate is welcome to attend. If you are interested, contact the church office to be put in touch with team chair Stacy Schroeder for details.
Our R3 team includes Emma Best, Pastor Matthew Best, Crystal Houser, Wayne Lengel, Lela McKee, Randy Neidig Sr., Stacy Schroeder, and Jadam Smith. Please hold us in prayer and be prepared to respond to the important conversations to come.