Speaker: Laurel Swanson, Administrator , Lutheran Church of the Cross
Please introduce yourself (name, title, church, church location).
Laurel Swanson: Hi, my name is laurel Swanson. I am at Lutheran church for the cross in Altoona Iowa, which is just outside of the capital city of des Moines. Our most recent glue story that really struck me was a young lady who reached out because she was struggling with depression, anxiety, um some trauma in her life. And when I asked her if she had any resources to connect with first of all through her school to get some counseling resources, she mentioned that she was home schooled and wasn't aware of how to connect with other resources. So I sent her some information about community based resources but also invited her to our uh brain health night which was actually something we'd already scheduled for that coming week with our youth department and our youth leader had coordinated with lots of professionals to come in and just bring some hands on workshops for the kids in our youth program. But it was open to the community. So I invited her to come. She came, she brought her mom, they didn't stay for very long because her anxiety got the better of her, which is too bad. But she said when she left that she wanted to come back again and try another another youth night. So somebody from the community connected um with a real practical tool that we had available to her and now hopefully she'll connect um with more peers and people that her her age dealing with the same things. So that was a great connection for us through explorers
Laurel Swanson: Hi, my name is Laurel Swanson, and I am the communications coordinator and church administrator at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Altoona, Iowa, just outside the capital city of des Moines.
Why did your church decide to connect with Explorers? What were you doing before?
Laurel Swanson: Why did we choose to connect with explorers? Well, first of all, I just was intrigued by the whole idea, um, that we would be able to tap into resources beyond what we would ever imagine, being able to use with the ads that were running and find people out in our community who truly needed us. Um, it was just a way for us to further our outreach into the community, and it has just expanded beyond anything we could have ever imagined.
Can you share a story about a specific Explorer connection? What happened? What was the impact?
Laurel Swanson: a really powerful story, at least to me. I have sons that have gone through our youth program here at the church. So I have a heart for kids, especially in their teenage and early twenties years, and just trying to find their way. And just in the last week a young lady reached out, just struggling with um ptsd trauma anxiety, depression, just really was having a lot of issues with her brain health and um we chatted back and forth. I offered her some resources that might be available to her because she also isn't in a traditional school setting to use school resources. And also in the last week our youth coordinator had planned what he called a brain health night, which was bringing in um counselors and professionals in the area of mental health to help kids with some coping mechanisms and some practical activities that they could use. So I just invited her, I had no idea if she even knew where our church was or where she was located, if she'd be able to get here and she actually showed up and had no connection to our church prior to that, but showed up on a youth night. Um she did end up leaving a little bit early just because her anxiety just got the better of her, which that's okay, but she said she wanted to come back and wanted to connect more because she felt like this was a place that really cared about her. So, um that was just a great story for us, just reaching out to the younger generation in our community
How has receiving Explorers impacted your church? Your team?
Laurel Swanson: um, how explorers has impacted our team and our church. Um, we haven't seen, at least not yet. People actually coming to connect, but what it has is allowed our care pastor and myself to reach out to people and offer them resources that are maybe not things that they would have ever considered in dealing with their issues, especially dealing with grief, divorce. And we offer both divorce, care and grief share in our church. And it gives us an opportunity to invite them to be a part of something where they may not understand that, that we offer those that churches offer those kinds of programs specifically for the needs that they have. So I think for us, it's just allowed us to expand our reach. Um, and also just to be more inviting and be more attentive to the needs around us and how we can connect them with the church and the people here to just love on them and support them in their times.
What advice would you give to other churches that want to help?
Laurel Swanson: I guess for a church, you might be considering signing up to receive explorers. Um, a couple of things that really caught my attention. One was, I can turn it off, I can deactivate it if it doesn't work for me, or maybe I have a time, or um, I just feel like we don't have the resources of the manpower to manage the request. You can deactivate it for a period of time, you can pause it and you can come back. So to me, it was like, well, what's the harm in signing up? Um, and I also think that what it helped me to see was, um, I get kind of tunnel vision. You know, I think we get so focused on the people around us and the people, we know that we forget that there are people on the fringes and just really not even the fringes, but just in the general public that don't have any idea how much hope there is in jesus. And so, um, it just helped us get out of our box a little bit and maybe that would be an encouragement is that if you feel kind of self centered and self focused explorers definitely opens your eyes to the world and the community around you