The Discovering Tomorrow process helped us take a healthy, objective and much needed look at our congregation and its ministries. The work was challenging and revealed areas of both strength and needed growth. Having an outside voice assess, evaluate and make recommendations was key to the success of our process. John has years of experience, in a wide variety of churches, and this breadth of knowledge and experience was helpful.
Rev. Karen Bruins
Rosemount United Methodist Church
Messiah United Methodist Church (has)... had the opportunity to work with John Laster since June 2009. I want to offer my evaluation of John's work with us.
First John led us through a vision discernment process that helped this congregation clarify our mission and align staffing and ministry areas to this mission. Through small group and large group presentations, John helped this congregation understand the changing realities in our community, our culture, and this congregation. His assessment and recommendations helped us establish a plan that has transformed ministry and engaged our congregation in the work of growing disciples. He also came alongside us during the economic downturn as we faced significant budgetary decisions and provided encouragement. Today, we are healthy financially, with a broader emphasis on stewardship.
Having completed the vision discernment process, we sought John's assistance in a feasibility study and a capital campaign. The feasibility study provided the confidence we needed to initiate a capital campaign for debt reduction. To our surprise, the campaign total even exceeded what the feasibility study suggested. I credit the success of the campaign to the way John was able to work alongside our lay leadership. Just as significant as the dollar amount is the new spirit that has taken hold of the congregation.
I found John to be honest and direct. I have valued the way we could discuss issues as they arose and strategize the best responses. He is a gifted listener with the ability to offer the most constructive message with tact. He established a rapport with our leadership in such a way that our staff or lay leadership will say, "What would John say about this?" People have come to trust his insight and wisdom. His first step has been to point us toward prayer and to seek God's direction in all things. As a result of the work John has done with us, we are a far better church, positioned for greater ministry.
Having conducted two prior capital campaigns before enlisting the services of Horizons Stewardship, I have had the opportunity to compare varying approaches to stewardship and capital campaigns. The ministry strategist makes all the difference in being able to execute an effective campaign. I wholly recommend John Laster to other churches.
Messiah United Methodist Church
The congregation at Independence Christian Church had a history of struggles internally which repeatedly resulted in ministers leaving after short pastorates. The situation had arisen again, however, the changing membership rose up and demanded the minister not leave. Pastor and elders went to the Scriptures and to their knees in search of God's plan for the congregation. Collectively we were led to John Laster who accepted the challenge to work with the leaders and the congregation. He truly is a man after God's own heart and immediately faced the task before him.
John has a heart for equipping leadership in churches to connect with Jesus. He correctly identified major conflicts immediately and worked tirelessly to seek Jesus on our behalf. The Senior Leadership Team was formed and has successfully followed his recommendations to identify Mission, Values, Vision, and Beliefs. John has a compassionate heart for congregations that are needing direction. John demonstrates his personal knowledge of Jesus as he coaches. He is well grounded in the scriptures and practices prayer in his personal life. My life has changed since this experience and I was privileged to have him as a guest in my home during the four day on-site sessions. Our church has a new mission and a new spirit because of his teaching "Leaders to be Leaders". John was a God chosen servant for our situation.
Chairperson of the Elders
Independence Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
I wanted to briefly touch base and tell you how much I appreciate you and your efforts last week. I have talked with a lot of the church leaders who participated, and have yet to hear anything less than glowing comments about you and the way that you handled our situation...what I did not count on was coming away with an entirely new and exciting perspective on how we should be doing God's work as a church. I knew that would be part of the package, but I really wasn't looking forward to changing my ideas or altering some of the comfortable ways that we do things. I just wanted to carry out my third year as Ad Council Chair and then fade into the woodwork for awhile.
I still may relinquish the title after this year, but I don't think there's going to be any fading. I'm much more interested in integrating and empowering and training and sending forth and growing than I ever thought that I would be. I can't thank you enough for making this something that I want to be a part of, rather than something that I want to try to find a way to get out of.
Administrative Council Chair
St. Mark’s UMC
I realize that, after three weeks, I am for you a distant memory back in at First Christian in Fayetteville, but rest assured that you are still very much at the center of our thoughts, conversations, and maybe even actions! I, for one, am very excited about the future of FCC, and am thankful that you came our way. As I told you at the time, you were "just whom we needed."
John, your style was magnificent. I took both paper and mental notes.
- You used the "silent pause" like a master.
- You paraphrased, the ultimate compliment to the speaker.
- You were progressively more candid as we grew to trust you.
- You frankly acknowledged the hard questions, and admitted it when you choose to sidestep them...an honest technique, far better than double talk.
- You faced difficult personnel issues squarely, and kept the dialogue going until you won people over.
- You taught us that finances and staff are not an excuse.
- You always seemed fresh, even when we knew you were dead tired.
And on and on. I loved it. That's why I came to several of the "meal" sessions.
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
I've been meaning to get back to you with a comment on John Laster's work at Messiah Church in Plymouth, MN. I don't know if Steve Richards (Senior Pastor) has said anything to you about John's engagement with us, but I've been very positively impressed with what John observed, offered, suggested, and so on. I think John came to us at a needed time and hopefully we can move forward in a big way for several years with what he's brought us. I think some were skeptical of the value a consultant could provide, but I see the potential for tremendous benefits beyond the cost of the consulting services John provided. I give thanks for his ministry in helping churches.
Messiah United Methodist Church