Breaking Open the Jar


Opening the Jar and Using the Gifts Congregational Meeting April 15, 2012

The purpose of this meeting was

  1. To help the congregation be on the same-page as to past work: Mission, principles, and vision and the results of the retreats of the past two years.
  2. Engage in a conversation on how to address processes (structure) changes that impact New Salem as we grow from a family centered size through the Pastor Centered and possibly the Committee size church transition without losing the culture of the “Big/little church in the country”.


The following data was collected from table discussions, charts at the meeting, and a list from a small group of women just before the meeting.  Most groupings (headings) came from the meeting discussion.  They are not prioritized or analyzed in any particular order.  (Although each category is led by the table group bullets.)  It is important to note that some of the bullets from table discussion were not discussed by the whole group, so the context and meaning and category may be confused.  Clarification may be helpful.


It may be useful to consider how to get this information out, clarified with corrections and additions, and implemented.  A couple of  ideas: 1.  Lay ground work by identifying each current committee, members, and begin work on identifying purpose;   2.  may be to have a congregational gifts Sunday/event where people look at all committees (areas of service) and identify where they’d like to share their gifts. 


Group notes that reinforce the Mission, Principle and vision of New Salem

  • Welcoming church family
  • Warm and Friendly
  • Worship
  • Fellowship
  • Sense of community
  • Dora Lee--cards
  • Respect diverse ideas
  • We are the focal site for the city of Turtle River

Procedural comments made in table discussions.

  • Improve communication within the church
  • Begin implementing brainstormed ideas
  • Form some new committees/changes
  • Develop some timelines
  • When commitments are made at the higher level, need to think about the trickle-down effect


Next Steps:  We did not identify who would do these steps.

  • Taste of Turtle River:  find coordinator or co-chair right away for next August
  • Technology committee
  • Develop timelines
  • Send results to committees/council to start implementing
  • Volunteer coordinator to help implement ideas quickly
  • Work on good communication instead of assumptions
  • Start implementing ideas
  • Lots of good ideas never implemented
  • Make activities purposeful
  • Clarity how we make decisions


  • Understand what is available
  • Education and training
    • Web site
    • Smart phone
    • Recording for special purposes
    • In house TV and Audio in the library, fellowship,  and ? Is forthcoming
    • Link newsletter in notice email
    • Update email list
  • Include new members
  • Facebook page
  • Virtual meetings
  • Form a committee


  • More entertainment
  • Youth director
  • Youth use the money they earn for fun activities
  • Intergenerational involvement with Sunday school
  • Involve men with children and all youth
  • Mentoring committee for youth and Sunday school
  • More programs:
    • Sponsoring scout troop
    • Youth night (29 and younger)
    • Involve in more activities—music , basketball,
    • Summer child/grandparent mentorship program
    • Youth mentorship
    • College student ministry
    • Mentorship through confirmation process
    • Secret partner—pray for a child
  • Invitation clear about purpose
  • Go where they are
  • Alternative for youth who aren’t attending church
  • Define programs
  • More items for youth to get involved in and let them have flexibility on how to spend it eg. Highway clean up
  • High School graduates not recognized in 2011 because the person who usually does it was out of town.  Things like this need to move to a committee responsibility so they don’t get missed.


  • Get new members to volunteer within their interests
  • Accept volunteer services that are offered.  Find a place for volunteers.  Help volunteers succeed and feel needed
  • Purposeful work
  • Answer questions
  • How to call?
  • Contact person and numbers on everything
  • System to coordinate volunteers. 
  • One person in charge, master list of who is serving available
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Open to new gifts
  • Ask someone you don’t know
  • When you want to leave a group/commitment, you shouldn’t have to find a replacement
  • Time management
  • What time to do
  • More flexibility
  • Lots of excellent volunteers, but worry about burn out
  • Recognition of volunteers to show gratitude
  • Volunteer jobs should be for a shorter period of time

New members:

  • Is welcoming Move these ideas into action
  • Nice to be asked with permission to say “no”.  Be accepting of their level of involvement wishes.
  • Mentorship of new members—like idea of a church buddy
    • Someone to listen and understand what’s going on in their life
  • Direction  (lead person) given for volunteers when asked, help is truly needed
  • Pictures on board—keep updates
  • Name tags:  easy system for organization—kiosk?
  • We need to know more about new members to assist in getting involved—time and talent surveys a possibility.
  • How to help new people to participate in the work of the church


Committees or ministries:

  • Stop brainstorming and start implementing
  • Example: stop having coffee after service just to see what will happen when no one will serve
  • Have a book explaining each committee and what their responsibilities are—updating by laws
  • Do a survey for each family asking what they are presently involved in and if they want to continue or change to a different area.
  • How do you get off a committee or join a new one
  • Set a length of time on the committee
  • How to access who to call
  • Raise meeting participation
  • Too many do not know what the committees do
  • List on bulletin board
  • Minutes from meeting need to be more inclusive
  • Concern that meeting minutes are censored and not complete
  • Volunteer commitment changing when decisions made.  ie. When communion was twice a month volunteers would serve 4 times in 2 months.  Now it is 9 times.  More than some can respond to.


Social Ministry

  • Sit with someone you do not know:  church and coffee
  • Getting to know each other and build community
  • Wednesday night family meal
  • Solve coffee hour serving issues
  • Coffee ministry`—fair trade


  • Live link to newsletter with reminder
  • Updating mailing lists—snail, email
  • Technology ministry
  • Improve
  • Lack of communication—who to communicate to




  • When large numbers are expected for worship (Christmas and Easter)
    •  have 2 services—closer together better times to distribute crowds evenly—suggestion 4 & 6 Christmas eve
    • Address parking concerns
  • Hymns:
    •  Pick more familiar hymns (ie. Not all, but some)
    • Print in bulletins for Christmas and Easter for people in the Narthex
    • Limit number of verses sung
    • Length of hymns during communion
  • The congregation should vote on how often communion is held
  • Speakers
    • Living wills
    • Senior classes
    • Public health
    • Welfare/social programs
  • Alter guild—setting and cleaning up support needed
  • Regular attendance by new members (there may be a cultural/diversity issue in this?  New members may travel more, larger geographical distribution of family, or out of town/other worship commitments)
  • Are we ministering to the invisible membership
  • Help for people who have problems with vision and hearing (not sure of context)

Building and Ground

  • Some of fundraising dollar could be used for new items in the church
  • Parking lot too full and people leave

Caregiving Ministry

  • Prayer partners

Pastoral staff

  • Define positions for support staff
  • Identify community programs available

Barriers noted from table discussion

  • Life
  • Personal dynamics
  • Distance
  • Doctrine
  • Assumption—not communication
  • Graduation at confirmation
  • Repetitive sermon
  • Time of day we don’t know or haven’t worked with
  • Time of week
  • Lack of mentorship
  • Childcare involvement
  • Time management
  • More stuff to do—not enough doing
  • Ask people we know, not new people or wh