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At the February “Conversations with the Bishop” event Bishop Tracie Bartholomew shared some startling and somewhat disheartening news with respect to church vitality in the New Jersey Synod. Of the 166 congregations in the synod two-thirds reported last year an average weekly worship attendance (AWWA) of 100 or less. Of those 110 congregations, half of them reported an AWWA of 50 or less and a large number of those 55 congregations worship less than 25 on a Sunday. If you’re wondering what Our Savior’s was last year we reported an AWWA of 189, which is the same as the year before and holding steady over the last five years. So if worship attendance and member contributions were the only indicators of a congregation’s vitality Our Savior would be doing well. But is that all there is? After 90 years of ministry is this all there is, or is God’s vision for our congregation broader than what we imagine? Where do we go from here? At a one-day retreat in February the Congregation Council met to discuss this very question. In addition to beginning the work of revising our mission statement to a more concise expression of our mission and ministry they also reviewed the ELCA Future Directions 2025 document “Called Forward Together in Christ” that identified five goals our denomination will be working on for the next seven years. The Council agreed that as we move forward toward our centennial celebration it would be wise to align our vision and goals with that identified by the ELCA. To that end here are the five goals, the priority area for action, and specific goals for each we will be working toward in 2018.

GOAL ONE

A thriving church spreading the gospel and deepening faith for all people. 2018 Priority area for action: Renew and strengthen evangelism.

2018 SMART Goals

  1. Acquire necessary resources to begin live streaming worship.
  2. Promote social media postings from congregation members and guests.
  3. Create and post ministry promotional videos to the webpage.

GOAL TWO

A church equipping people for their baptismal vocations in the world and this church. 2018 Priority area for action: Youth and young adults in mission.

2018 SMART Goal

  1. Create an Oasis Jr. ministry geared toward elementary age youth with three events this year.
  2. Include non-LCOS youth from Mission Trip in Oasis youth ministry invites with goal or having 20% of them begin to participate regularly.

GOAL THREE

An inviting and welcoming church that reflects and embraces the diversity of our communities and the gifts and opportunities that diversity brings.

2018 Priority area for action

Addressing discrimination and oppression

2018 SMART Goal

  1. Lead a study and discussion of the Women and Justice Draft Social Statement in May and provide feedback by September deadline.
  2. Lead a study and discussion of the 2009 Human Sexuality Social Statement in October or November.

GOAL FOUR

A visible church deeply committed to working ecumenically and with other people of faith for justice, peace and reconciliation in communities around the world. 2018 Priority area for action: Lift up the work of ELCA-related social ministries

2018 SMART Goal

  1. Submit a list of all ELCA-related social ministries that exist.
  2. Choose 2-3 to focus on for the remainder of the year at the April Council meeting.

GOAL FIVE

A well-governed, connected and sustainable church.

2018 Priority area for action:

Communication

2018 SMART Goal:

Insure the website, Instant Church Directory application, and all communication mechanisms are regularly updated and kept “fresh” as well as provide transparency of mission and ministry objectives and updates
throughout the year.