By Justin Rossow

We are better together. That’s one of the fundamental principles of our multi-site congregation. We plan together. We follow Jesus together. We contribute to a whole that is greater than the parts. And we bear one another’s burdens.

As the pastor vacancy at the University Lutheran Chapel continues, it’s time to commit more congregational resources to support that part of our community. Victor Minetola has done a great job as Interim Site Leader, and his role will not change. But in order to manage an extended vacancy, the St. Luke leadership wants Victor to have a partner to help lead the site forward.

For the next stage of our vacancy, that partner will be Pastor Matt Hein.

Pastor Matt has only been at St. Luke Ann Arbor for six months as our Minister of Discipleship. His role in leadership, teaching, and preaching has already had an impact on the kind of discipling culture we are trying to build. Using Pastor Matt at ULC fits with our vision of St. Luke as a single congregation moving toward more and more intentional discipleship.

FullSizeRenderMatt and Victor are excited about this partnership. And so am I.

So what can we expect to see in the vacancy?

Victor will continue to be the Interim Site Leader and the “face in the place,” always present on Sunday morning to provide continuity no matter who is preaching.

Pastor Matt will spend about half of his workweek partnering with Victor on planning, leadership, and discipling strategies. He will also have regular office hours at The Chapel.

Pastor Matt will preach about once a month at ULC and will attend Elder and other leadership meetings at that site.

Pastor Matt will continue to lead the congregation-wide confirmation process and will still oversee staff at St. Luke-Ann Arbor. He will continue to have a Sunday morning presence in worship and Bible class at the St. Luke site, but will not attend all of the Elder and other leadership meetings as he has in the past.

While there will be some loss at the St. Luke site, the gains are considerable; not only will the ministry at The Chapel receive the support it needs going into the next phase of vacancy, but we will be able to move toward alignment in the congregation now, instead of waiting for a new site leader to arrive.

Leaders from all three sites are in currently in conversation that will lead us to greater clarity and alignment as a whole. We want to be a single congregation with shared discipleship values that get implemented in a variety of local contexts. Pastor Matt joining the leadership team at ULC in the vacancy helps put that vision into action.

In order to help cover some of the gap left by Pastor Matt at the St. Luke site, our congregational leadership is seeking to fill a temporary part-time position. This position will be funded through budget intended for the new site leader as long as the vacancy continues.

The focus of this Connections Coordinator position will be to build a process for creating discipling relationships at the St. Luke site, especially in the area of connecting new people to our discipleship process. Look for more on that interim position soon.

We want all of our sites to be vibrant and passionate about following Jesus and reaching God’s lost people. We want our people to be asking what God is speaking into their lives and what kind of response Jesus is shaping in them. We expect this investment of staff will move us in the right direction, even as we pray and seek for God’s right man at God’s right time to fill the Site Leader role at ULC.

In some ways, I know I will miss my friend Matt in the office; but I also know we are better together, as one congregation with three unique sites.