Friday, September 27, 2013

An Answer to Prayer

    An amazing thing happened on Sunday September 15th.  After church fifty or sixty members and friends representing both worship services from Trinity church gathered together to find a way to hold our children’s and adult Sunday school classes at the same time.  This may not, on the surface, appear to be a big deal, but it was, and is.  For several years this has been a recurring topic of conversation for several reasons.  First, the way we’ve been doing it, parents and children could not both attend Sunday school.  Second, the children’s class time was limited to about fifteen minutes which is obviously too short to accomplish much.  Third, the schedule we were using did not allow for much interaction between those who attended the two different worship services except during church dinners where, I suspect, folks tend not to mingle, but sit with people they know.  

    Over the course of several months there have been three or four meetings do discuss this problem and several of these attempted to find a schedule that would work but never quite made it to the finish line.  One or two of these meetings got a little tense, strong feelings were brought to the surface and people said things that were sometimes unkind and out of character.  In the end, we agreed to try one more time and invite all the players.  Every member and every regular attender of both worship services were invited but in doing so we asked everyone to do one more thing.   

We asked everyone to pray.  

    In asking everyone to pray, I was specific in asking that God would lead us to a solution that we thought was best for the church and not necessarily what was best for us individually.  Everyone was asked to pray for five minutes each day that our meeting would allow us to find a place of unity.  And it did.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, and I suppose I shouldn’t say that it was amazing, but I was, and I do.  In our last meeting the tenor and tone of the conversation was dramatically different.  There was no hostility or evidence of stress and no one seemed to be tense.  Everyone present was polite and all of the suggestions were both kind as well as helpful.  The differences between this meeting and earlier ones were so great that I cannot attribute it to being any but a clear answer to prayer.  In the end, the people of Trinity church met for about forty-five minutes and every single person in attendance was in agreement with the final proposal.

    Even so, I know not everyone is thrilled.  There were a few people who were unable to attend and, while their opinions were shared before a final decision was made, they didn’t get everything they wanted.  I am disappointed that anyone could feel left out or excluded in any way, but it became obvious during our meeting that we have reached a point where someone would be hurt no matter what direction we went.  I honestly feel that, for now, we have chosen the best option we had available to us.

What we decided: Beginning Sunday November 3rd, our first worship service will start promptly at 09:30am and Sunday school for all ages will begin at 10:30am. The second worship service is presently reorganizing and hopes to re-launch in a somewhat different format soon.  When they do, they will begin at 11:15am.

What this means:  This change, along with our recent addition of a weekly Children’s church (during the first worship service) is all a part of our effort to make Trinity more “kid friendly” and attractive to young families.  With these changes, parents and children can attend Sunday school together regardless of which worship service they attend.   Once the second service restarts, this arrangement also has the advantage of providing a Sunday school hour where worshipers from both services can get to know one another. 

Challenges:  As much as I think this is good news, we still face a number of challenges.  First, we know that not everyone is thrilled with our decision, and we don’t yet know what that might mean.  I hope that everyone will give the new schedule a chance before making any quick decisions.  Second, the new schedule will require us to make a few changes to the first worship service in order to finish before Sunday school.  Third, there is a good chance that we will need to add one or more Sunday school classes and that means we will need more volunteers to teach.  

    All in all, I am very proud of the people of Trinity Church and the way we were able to come together to make these hard decisions.  I believe that these changes will position us to move forward with other plans and give us a chance to grow.  Most importantly, I want to thank all of you for your faithfulness and for your prayers.  I have no doubts that none of this would have been possible without them.

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