Why Microchurch:
Is our motivation to fix a problem or live out of passion?

While the challenges (infrequent attendance, burnout) highlighted in the following articles are not our motivation for moving toward a microchurch platform, they point to cultural shifts stressing ill-adapted centralized, top-down, clergy-centric church platforms. The question is still out whether a move toward a decentralized, distributed platform via microchurches will be the answer to some of these persisting problems. However, we know trying harder at doing church as we've always done it in the past has not sufficiently addressed its problems either.

For example, the ELCA was formed in 1987 with 5.2 million members. Over the past 35 years of trying harder and "improving" the top-down, centralized, clergy-centric platform, we now number 3.3 million members. This amounts to a -37% gain in membership even as the US population grew by nearly 36% in those same 35 years.

What about these negative trends? We need to be mindful of them because they are often symptoms of deeper issues of vocation and meaning. However, we resist being motivated by negative trends. We are not on this journey of deep, radical change as Common Ground Church because we're going to fix the church. That will only lead to more of the burnout described in the second article below.

If Jesus is Lord, then the church is his to build through and with us to heal the Earth and all interconnected life! Jesus' lordship is not in question but whether we trust Jesus' capacity to build the church might be the issue. What keeps us up at night must always be tuned into God's passionate love for the whole of Creation in our generation! If our underlying energies focus on fixing a languishing ecclesial institution or recovering some familiar self-gratifying past form of church, we pray the Holy Spirit liberate our imagination and re-tune our hearts to God's love for the world. Ultimately, we pray that the Spirit heal our trust of that same Spirit's agency to accomplish through and with us what cannot do alone.

And let whatever we endeavor for Jesus and love of our neighbor, even if it is hard and grief-producing at times, be fun. This is not being trite. At the end of the day, may we all sleep in the contentment that Jesus is material evidence that God enjoys our company and takes up life with us as we are. May we take delight in knowing that, so that when we wake (in this life or the next), we are in the company of a love so immense that it can transform the human heart and mind, and even raise the dead. Being church can be hard but it is the kind of life together that potentiates and realizes a fulfilling, just life for all, and abundantly so. (John 10:10)

10 Reasons Even Committed Christians Are Attending Church Less Often: "Of course, church attendance is never the goal. But attendance is a sign of something deeper that every church leader will have to wrestle with over the next few years.
So…why are even committed attenders attending less often?"

The Burnout Facing American Congregations: “In March 2022, 42% of pastors considered resigning — up from the 29% who did the same in January 2021, according to data collected by Barna. The three biggest reasons clergy cited were ‘immense stress,’ feelings of isolation and loneliness, and ‘political division,’ according to Barna.
Microchurch (MC) Grant Update: 
Training and Staffing

The funding objectives of the 3-year Microchurch Siebert Grant are staffing and training. 

Training: Mainline meets Microchurch. Starting in March of this year, Pastor Michael has completed two microchurch course intensives. He is currently enrolled in coaching and another course intensive on building a microchurch network. All the courses and coaching have been provided by the Underground Network, an organization based in Tampa, FL, that equips people for the microchurch platform and movement. 

Staff: Microchurch Executive Director/Pastor. A lead staff position to build and establish a microchurch network is the other funding objective of the grant. The microchurch training coupled with the Lenten microchurch experiment provided much needed information to develop the position description for the Microchurch Executive Director or Pastor. This job description will be posted in our weekly email, on Indeed.com and with the synod. Our goal is to fill the position by June 15, 2022. 

Interim Microchurch Director. Till the Microchurch Executive Director/Pastor position is filled, the congregation council has created a part-time interim director position funded by the grant. Lisa Lee has agreed to serve in this role and began work this week.

The motivation for the interim position stems primally from our year 1 benchmark to establish at least one microchurch. The window of opportunity to plan for and establish this first pilot microchurch is narrowing as summer approaches. Intern Samuel will be offsite for academic intensives and vacation from Memorial Day till June 26. Pastor Michael begins his sabbatical on July 1. From now till the end of May, we will reconvene our Wednesday night MC experimenters and engage our online morning MC participants to plan for initiating the year 1 microchurch.

The council thought it wise to bring someone on staff with a proven ministry track record and the qualifications fitting the position to move the process along. Lisa Lee not only has the requisite experience, expertise and education but has become available in a limited manner since completing her pastoral internship with Advent Lutheran Church, Madison, WI on May 8. Lisa will be graduating with a Master of Divinity degree on June 5 and will be eligible for ordination after her approval interview with the synod candidacy committee on August 5. 

Let us warmly welcome Lisa Lee to the Common Ground Church team! 
2022 Assembly of the South-Central Synod of WI
Hunter Bowman, Samuel Christensen, Mike Gollmar, Grace Lee, Lisa Lee and Pastor Michael served as this year's synod assembly voting members from Common Ground Church.

Council President, Mike Gollmar, and Intern Samuel Christensen participated in an afternoon panel dialogue spotlighting synodical congregations and ministries around the assembly theme, Born/Reborn!