Thursday, October 30, 2014

Charge Conference Report - 2014, A Year in Review

    At the end of last year we made some difficult decisions.  In the end, we shifted the start times of our worship services so that our Sunday school could be available to both groups.  Now, nearly one year later, we are beginning to see the results of those changes.  It is difficult to pinpoint with any certainty what the root causes of each change is, but in each case, the changes that we made would at least seem to be a significant contributing factor.

    Last year our contemporary worship service had dwindled to only a handful over the summer and some weeks there were more people in the praise team than there were in attendance.   As a result, we suspended this service until the weather cooled off in the fall, and until the decisions about our worship times had been finalized.  This summer that same worship service had an average attendance of nearly 17 instead of five.   
    Obviously, there is still much to do, but the improvement over last year is encouraging.
Since changing our service times, we have seen a small loss in attendance in our traditional worship service, but this has been balanced by an increase in the Coffee House worship so that our total attendance has been nearly unchanged.

    Prior to the change in our worship times, our adult and children’s Sunday school was divided.  The adults met at 8:45am and the children at 11:11am.  Today, everyone meets at the same time.  Where we once averaged 18 to 20 in Sunday school, we now average 25-30.  We have added one new adult class and periodically offer classes for those interested in becoming members, those interested in learning more about our church and its organization, or for youth who feel that they are past the age of attending confirmation classes.  We have also added one weekly Bible study class.

    Our partnership with Perry Helping Perry continues and we find that having the food pantry here helps us to better understand the needs of the poor in our community.  Last year, an average monthly distribution was 60-70 boxes of food with significantly more given out at Christmas and Easter.  So far this year, monthly distributions of over one hundred boxes of food have become commonplace so we see that there is great need in our community and Trinity Church has been generous in giving to support that need.  After some discussion with us and other supporters, Perry Helping Perry is currently surveying their clients to see what other services they need.  Our hope is that we can find other places where Trinity’s skills will match the needs of our community so that we can find new ways to reach out in the name of Jesus Christ.

    Although I cannot report any stories of fantastic growth, I believe what we see is - stability and hope.  Our attendance is stable and shows signs of improvement.  We are regularly seeing new faces visit and worship with us, and in the last year, several of those visitors have chosen to make Trinity their new church home. 

    Last year we began hosting a Cub Scout pack and since then, the number of boys has nearly tripled.  None of those boys, or their families, currently attends Trinity, but we recognize that this is a remarkable opportunity for us to make an impact in our community. 

    In all these ways, while we may not see fantastic growth, what we see is health, strength, and opportunity.  We do not know what the future holds for us numerically, but we can be confident that Trinity Church will continue to make a difference in the lives of the people of our community.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

One Small Change

    Some time ago, I challenged you to perform One Small Act, to perform an act of kindness, mercy, forgiveness, or generosity.  I knew that many of you were already doing these things but I challenged you to not only do them, but to tell me what you had done.  It wasn’t easy.  I had to remind you and coax you, and I had to promise several people that I wouldn’t use your names.  You aren’t doing these things for recognition, but simply because they are the right thing to do.

    I didn’t ask so that we could brag.  I had, and have, something different in mind.  So what sorts of things are we doing?

  • Giving an elderly neighbor rides to his church and shopping.
  •  Paying for the car behind us at the drive thru window.
  • Taking pictures at a training seminar and creating a slide show so that the participants could see what everyone else had been doing.
  • Visiting friends in the hospital and in nursing homes
  • Mailing cards to cheer up a friend who is struggling.
  • Sending “Get Well” cards to those who are sick.
  •  Thank you notes
  • Caring for the neighbor’s dog when they were temporarily laid up.
  • Check in on those who are alone, widowed, or shut-in.
  • Donating blood
  • Visiting folk who are shut-in and sometimes taking cookies or treats.
  • Listening
  • Feeding the hungry
  • Caring for others in public places and in unexpected situations.
  • Driving a blind co-worker home after work.
   I know that there are a great many things that Trinity folk are doing that are not listed here.  We do “small acts” of service on a regular basis. One of you hands out cards when they perform their acts of kindness that declare that “You have been randomly chosen” to receive a blessing and that “God Loves You.”

And so here is the next challenge: Make one small change.

    Take a moment to think about what you are doing and how you are doing it.  You are already making a difference in your community and in your world.  What small thing could you change, so that in the process of doing what you already do, others learn that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ?  What small thing could you do differently, so that besides making the world a better place, you are also making an eternal impact for the Kingdom of God?

It won’t take much.

You are already making a difference.

The challenge is for each of us to make an eternal difference.