A Time to Listen


Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this is my first Executive Director’s Corner thoughts on our newly launched, snazzy website!!   It is a beautiful expression of the love of our Lord from many people, particularly Wendy and Rick.  I hope to drive usage of the website to thousands that will see it and fall in love with His Ministry.

Today I want to talk about Listening.  I work in a consumer durables company as my profession.  Our commercial strategy goes something like this:  “We sell goods to our customers/distributors to put in their stores, and then we have end users who buy from those stores and use the products in their homes.”   We invest a lot of time and money listening to feedback from both to ensure we are providing products and services they need / want.  I see our mission in His ministry of Via de Cristo similarly.  The National Secretariat provides support to the Local Secretariats, who in turn minister to the ultimate end user who is our 4th Day Community and potential pilgrims/candidates. As a provider of support, we as the National Secretariat need to spend quality time listening to the needs of our local secretariats and 4th Day Community.

In that regard per Wendy’s suggestion, we took a big step by holding an inaugural Leadership Forum with the Lay Leaders of the secretariats and Regional Coordinators.  We unveiled our new website, but we spent the majority of the time on listening to the leaders of your secretariats on what help and support they need.  It was an exhilarating session for me as the feedback came in loud and clear…and there were a couple of common things that came out that we would like to start scoping out:

  1. Taking the Pilgrims Guide digital: I can’t imagine how many more times I would use my Pilgrims Guide if it was on my phone.  One of our secretariats is already working on a Pilgrims Guide phone app.  We have asked to support that effort and perhaps scale it to all our communities.  More to come on that
  1. How to hold a socially distant weekend: We found several secretariats are considering having weekends in the fall, but are struggling with how to do it in a safe, socially distant manner.  While National neither encourages nor discourages having fall weekends given the Covid environment, we would like to facilitate bringing people together to brainstorm ideas for those Secretariats who chose to do so.
  1. Be more inclusive to others:  Via de Cristo is built on the foundation of Lutheran Theology and God’s Grace as it’s cornerstone…that will not change and shouldn’t.   However, one of the things we are prayerfully considering is potentially taking “Lutheran” out of the “National Lutheran Secretariat” name, to be more welcoming to others.  Many people serving on our local leadership teams, as well as serving on and coming through weekends are not Lutheran.  I myself grew up Lutheran, but have since joined a Methodist church.  Grace and the love of Jesus Christ bind us together, our branding should be designed in a way to emphasize that commonality.  This will require a change in the constitution, voting etc…so there will be plenty of time to get your thoughts to us and share what is on your mind.   Will keep you updated.

At the end of the Leadership Forum, we agreed that we would start planning for one quarterly Leadership Forum to monitor our progress, continue to listen for your feedback, and keep our ministry connected in this difficult time.  Thank you to all the leaders who were able to participate, and the ones that could not but prayed for us.  Any thoughts or feedback you have for National or me personally…do not hesitate to reach out to me directly:

May the Lord continue to bless you and be with you on your journey!!

In His service,

Brian Schwarz