Synod-Wide Listening and Strategic Planning Process
“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13, 3:22).
In the last five months, I have been welcomed into worship by congregations across our synod who are clearly listening to the Spirit’s call to be the church in an ever-changing world. In the churchwide expression of the ELCA, listening to the Spirit’s calling for the church is happening through initiatives like Future Church and the Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church. For several years now, we, too, have been listening for the Spirit in new ways across our Central/Southern Illinois Synod. This listening for the Spirit led to the creation of our Come, Holy Spirit art installation at our 2022 Synod Assembly, out of which emerged eight threads each describing missional priorities for how we might move forward together into God’s future. In 2023, we continued to listen as we discussed and studied these eight threads in preparation to elect a new bishop.
Now, in 2024, we are ready for the next steps in listening to the Spirit’s call here in Central/Southern Illinois. After several months of discussion and discernment, our Synod Council voted unanimously at our January meeting to begin an intentional synod-wide listening and strategic planning process. To do so, we have engaged with GSB Consultants to lead and accompany us on this journey. Peter Reuss and Clyde Walter will serve as our two primary consultants.
The proposed timeline for this process is as follows:
- February-April: Initial listening at each of our six conference assemblies
- Early April: Synod-wide online survey
- Late April: In-person listening sessions at various locations across the synod
- May: Work with GSB to develop mission/vision/values and strategic priorities
- June 6-8, Synod Assembly: Engagement and feedback on proposed mission/vision/values and strategic priorities
- Late June: Work with GSB to finalize strategic priorities
- July-August: Work with GSB to develop specific goals and objectives
- September: Synod Council finalizes plan for moving forward together
It is important to note that the primary goal of this process is to listen for the Spirit and how the Spirit is calling us to participate more deeply in God’s mission. This process is about listening for God’s will and not about listening for our will. Listening for the Spirit means both listening closely to God’s Word and listening closely to one another, including those to whom we may not normally listen.
As we begin this process, your participation is vital. Participate in the initial listening sessions that will happen at your conference assemblies and, later, in the more robust listening sessions that will happen across the synod. Complete the online survey in early April. Encourage all those in your congregations, both those who are fully engaged and those who are unengaged, to participate, communicating with them how important their voices are to this process. Attend our Synod Assembly in June as we process together what we have heard and learned.
Most importantly, pray. Invite your congregations to pray. Pray for openness to hear what the Spirit is saying. Pray for wisdom to listen. Pray for the courage to act. Join together over the coming months in praying the words of the African hymn,
Gracious Spirit, heed our pleading, fashion us all anew.
It’s your leading that we’re needing, help us to follow you.
Come, come, come, Holy Spirit, come.
Come, come, come, Holy Spirit, come. (Evangelical Lutheran Worship #401)
Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying.
Leading in HOPE †,
Bishop Greg G. Busboom