New Horizons: Navigating Transition and Embracing the Vision at Immanuel Lutheran

In the warm, bustling community of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Flatville, Illinois, Judy Rademaker, a dedicated member of the congregation’s stewardship team, felt a palpable sense of urgency when their beloved pastor announced his retirement. This moment coincided with the North American Lutheran Church’s rollout of its 20/20 Vision, an initiative steeped in the church’s core values and aimed at ensuring a vibrant future. Judy, tasked with navigating this pivotal transition, dove into the Vision’s toolkit with a mixture of determination and faith.

Immanuel Lutheran, with its long history of commitment and service, faced the challenge of communicating the complexities of the 20/20 Vision to its congregation. The stewardship team, under Judy’s guidance, understood the need for a comprehensive yet accessible approach. They started by introducing the Vision at their annual meeting in January 2023, using a video featuring Bishop Selbo and Pastor Amy Little. This video served as a catalyst for deeper engagement with the Vision’s goals and aspirations.

Recognizing the diverse needs and learning styles within their community, the team employed various methods to disseminate information. They distributed carefully crafted bulletin inserts, accompanied by corresponding videos, during Sunday services. This approach allowed for a more interactive and engaging learning experience. Discussions and Q&A sessions followed each video, providing a platform for community members to voice their questions and insights.

To maintain a visible and constant reminder of the Vision, the church utilized a portion of its funds to create a large vinyl poster displayed in the breezeway. This poster not only served as a daily reminder of the church’s commitment to the Vision but also sparked curiosity and conversation among members.

As part of their strategy, the team decided to revisit these videos in the fall, modifying their approach based on feedback and observations. This iterative process demonstrated their commitment to keeping the congregation engaged and informed over the three-year duration of the program.

The retirement of their pastor, a moment of significant change for Immanuel Lutheran, was also an opportunity. It brought into sharp focus the elements of the 20/20 Vision that emphasized support for seminary and pastoral formation. This aspect of the Vision resonated deeply with the congregation, aligning with their desire to nurture and sustain strong church leadership in the face of transition.

Judy and her team’s efforts exemplified how a congregation could effectively engage with a denomination-wide initiative like the 20/20 Vision. By utilizing the materials provided in the toolkit, they crafted a comprehensive plan that addressed their unique congregational context. The resources enabled them to highlight the diversity and broader narrative of the NALC, reminding Immanuel Lutheran’s members that they were part of a larger, dynamic community of faith.

Looking ahead, Immanuel Lutheran Church plans to continue the conversation around the 20/20 Vision, exploring new ways to engage and inspire their congregation. They recognize the importance of evolving their approach to maintain interest and enthusiasm among their members. The stewardship team’s story of impact, led by Judy Rademaker, is a testament to the power of thoughtful planning, resourceful implementation, and a deep commitment to the mission and vision of the North American Lutheran Church.