By Courtney Olsen

Leadership in congregations is not for the squeamish. Many different skill sets are required.

So, it is good news then that many of those skills are easily learned. That’s why the Minneapolis Area Synod offers an annual Tool Kit event, and this year’s Tool Kit will be held on 9 a.m.–noon on Saturday, February 23, at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. The morning is set aside for learning and fellowship, as well as an opportunity to gain new skills, find new resources, and listen to creative ideas specifically geared towards congregational leaders.

“The Tool Kit is one of our most talked about and appreciated event for lay leaders,” explains Bishop Ann Svennungsen. “We’re excited to be offering such a great selections of workshops again this year!” Participants have the opportunity to attend two of the fourteen workshops offered, so Bishop Ann encourages teams from a congregation attend so as to catch many of the workshop options.

Rev. Kelly Chatman, senior pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, will be leading a workshop on how God uses the gifts and talents of small congregation. In his workshop, “A Small Congregation Can Make a Big Difference,” attendees will share stories and strategies with one another about the hope small congregations offer the future of the church. “Small churches know more than they think that they know,” said Rev. Chatman. “I want to help people imagine that we don’t have problems, we only have challenges.”

Real estate is often a congregation’s largest asset, but it can also be the most underutilized. Jeremy Striffler, a director in the Minnesota office of real estate company Cushman & Wakefield, will lead “Good Stewardship: Maximizing the Value of Your Real Estate.” In this workshop, Striffler will help attendees gain a stronger grasp of the logistical details of owning and leasing property and best practices in property management. “Over the years with the work that we’ve done with congregations, we’ve really embraced the idea of good stewardship. I’ve seen how valuable it is to congregations to be able to live out their mission through their space,” he explained. “Due to change in demographics and neighborhoods, some spaces and land have become underutilized. This workshop will be about using their building to do their mission in a new way.”

Rev. Chris Smith, an interim pastor currently serving at Incarnation Lutheran Church in Shoreview, is leading a workshop entitled “Navigating the Church Human Resources Jungle.” Smith will share with attendees the basics of human resource management and how these create a framework for employees to be both satisfied and passionate about the mission of their congregation. “One problem to avoid is lack of clarity in the workplace,” Smith explained. “According to Brené Brown, to be clear is to be kind. When there is clarity around expectations, greater satisfaction in the work [is possible].”

Workshops that are offered are:

  • Church Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Leaders from Our Saviour’s, East Bethel (9:00)
  • New Strategies for Organizing Mission & Ministry: Effective Church Council Leadership, Rev. Jerry Wahl (9:00)
  • Who Lives in My Neighborhood (Mission InSite), Courtney Olsen (9:00)
  • Ready to Talk About Culture and Race?, UNITE Table of the MAS (9:00)
  • How to Run a Meeting, Rev. John Hulden (9:00)
  • Financial Best Practices for Churches, Ty Inglis (9:00)
  • A Small Congregation Can Make a Big Difference, by Rev. Kelly Chatman (9:00)
  • Five Marks of a Vital Congregation and Two Questions Not to Ask, Rev. Deb Stehlin (10:10)
  • Using Story to Invite People into your Congregation, Rev. Kevin Doely (10:10)
  • Better Council Effectiveness Through Relationships, Rev. Bonnie Wilcox (10:10)
  • Digital Media 101: Social Media and Websites, Jeni Huff and Bob Hulteen (10:10)
  • Good Stewardship: Maximizing the Value of Your Real Estate, by Jeremy Striffler (10:10)
  • Navigating the Church Human Resources Jungle, by Rev. Chris Smith (10:10)
  • The Skill of Connecting with Your Community Though 1:1 Conversations, by Nick Tangen, Ben Whalen, and Meghan Olsen Biebighauser (10:10)

Registration for the synod’s Tool Kit opens at 8:30 a.m., with workshops at 9:00 and 10:10 a.m. Bishop Ann will lead a discussion time at 11:20 a.m. Conference Assemblies — the time to handle business in preparation for the May 3–4 Synod Assembly — will begin at noon. Each conference can leave once its business is complete.

Register for this free event today!