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.