Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Time for Renewal

    As I write, spring is attempting to break into Northern Ohio.  Sometimes Mother Nature seems to be off of her medication as we swing wildly between sun, snow, rain, fog, warm and cold all in the span of a day of two.  But all the same, time marches on and the calendar advances.  We have already passed the equinox and the first official day of spring.  It will soon be April and Easter.  And before you know it we will be outside in short sleeves enjoying the fresh air.

But this is also a time to remember the symbolism of both Easter and spring.

    During this time of the year we see eggs, baby ducks and chicks everywhere.  We see spring flowers emerging from their winter’s sleep and the trees budding, and it seems like the whole earth is bursting with new life.

It is a time of renewal, new beginnings, and second chances.

And Easter is a reminder to seek spiritual renewal as well.

    The crucifixion, death and resurrection remind us that Christ’s sacrifice gave us hope and a second chance.

    Each New Year we make resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, and lose weight.  We resolve to give up smoking, swearing and other bad habits.

So during this season of renewal, why not start something spiritual?

    Take this as an opportunity to read the Bible more often, pray, join a Sunday School class or Bible study, come to youth group, go to church camp, attend church more often, or if you’ve gotten out of the habit of attending, now is a wonderful time to come back. 

Much like the spring, Trinity church is filled with new growth, new opportunities and is filled with hope.

You wouldn’t want to miss getting outside into the fresh air in the springtime.

You don’t want to miss what’s happening here at Trinity either.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Understanding the Changes to the Program Committee

   By now you have probably noticed that we are doing some things differently this year.  One of those things is not something that we decided to do, but one of those things that just happen.  The chairperson of the Program Committee decided to step down, and although we asked just about everyone ewe could think of, the Nominating Committee could not find anyone who was willing to step in and lead the Program Committee.  As a result, we are organizing that committee a little differently.  Instead of being a committee that is in charge of planning and holding events, Program will instead become a meeting of people whose groups are already in charge of holding events.  The Program Committee is now a regular meeting of leaders, essentially a “Council of Chiefs,” that will discuss what is being done, and delegate new events among themselves. 

    I suppose at this point, an example would clear things up better than a lengthy explanation.  Suppose the church wanted to hold a covered dish dinner.  In the past, someone would ask, a request would be made to the Program Committee, and the Program Committee would plan the dinner.  Now, since no one is technically “in charge” of the Program Committee, such a suggestion might still be discussed by that group, but before their meeting is over, the dinner, and its planning, will be delegated to the Hospitality Team, the Missions Team, the UMW, or some other group that is represented there.  The function of the Program Committee will no longer be to “plan and do” things, but to delegate the “planning and doing.”

    Like many other new things, I am certain that not everything will go as planned, some unexpected wrinkles will come up, and there will be some questions that we have not anticipated.  This is a work in progress.  Feel free to make suggestions and ask questions and we will find our way forward together.

Why did we Create New Teams and not Committees?

    Most of us who “grew up” Methodist or who have been a part of The United Methodist Church for any length of time are accustomed to church business being conducted by all sorts of “committees.”  But sometimes, like now, we hear of new groups that are called “teams” and we wonder what the difference is.  The simple answer is that the name implies a difference in the way that these groups are organized.  The Book of Discipline, which defines the basic organization of the church, specifies a few committees (such as Finance, Trustees, SPR, and Administrative Council) that are required under our system.  These committees have a defined membership that is elected on a rotating basis, with members elected for a three year term.  For years, most churches followed this model for all of their groups.  But in recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to find people who were willing to serve a three year term on any sort of standing committee. 

    But teams are different.  Churches do not ordinarily have a committee to organize Vacation Bible School, but year after year, VBS happens because a few leaders organize a team of people who are willing to step in, have a few meetings, and get the job done.  No one is obligated for a three year “enlistment” or feel they must attend regular meetings over a long period of time.  The VBS “team” comes together for a short time, gets the job done, and then goes on their way. 

    The plan is for these new teams to operate in a similar way.  Team leaders will make up a list of people who are willing to help for a limited time, and will call them to enlist volunteers for each project that they are planning.  Being a “member” of one of these teams might mean that you help on every project, or it might mean that you can only help on one particular project.  When you get a call from one of these team leaders, instead of being asked to volunteer for three years and lots of meetings, you might be asked to help plan a dinner, attend one or two meetings, show up for the dinner, and be done.  In our busy culture, it is a lot easier for people to volunteer for short projects than to make long-term commitments.

Introducing the Missions Team

    The second of these new teams is the Missions Team led by Jan Gash.  Our Missions Team will be responsible for making our “mission of the month” list that was formerly made by the Program Committee, but my hope is that they will do much more than that.  The plan is for the Missions Team to help us be more intentional about missions, to do more, to help us to be more involved with missions, and to give us the opportunity to be a part of missions and outreach. 

    So, besides making the “mission of the month” list, what will the Missions Team do?  Honestly, I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that they will do things like:

A)     Plan missionary dinners
B)      Invite missionary speakers
C)      Invite us to go on mission trips locally and abroad
D)     Participate in community outreach.

    Just as I said about the Hospitality Team, it is important to remember that this is new to us.  What the Missions Team does will feel awkward at first.  Their “job description” is a little fuzzy.  What they do, and how they do it, will evolve over time as they discover what they are good at, and as we better understand what Trinity needs.

    If you have an interest in any of the things that I have described, especially if you have a particular skill in one or more of these areas, I encourage you to contact Jan and offer to help.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Introducing the Hospitality Team

    This year we have added two new teams to our church organization.  One of these is the new Hospitality Team led by Marla Armstrong.  For the most part, the Hospitality Team will not be doing a lot of “new” things as much as they will be coordinating things that we’ve been trying to do, piecemeal, for some time.  They will be overseeing the greeters, ordering mugs for visitors, writing (and revising) information flyers and other things that we already do but for which there was no central point of authority.  What I am asking this team to do is to develop a process by which we move visitors toward membership and full participation in the life of Trinity Church.

    I know that some of you are asking, “What does he mean by “a process?”  I know this might be a new way of looking at it, but I think you have already thought about this, but never had an organized way to get it done.  What I am asking the Hospitality Team to do is to pull together everything that we already do to:

A)     Attract visitors
B)      Welcome Visitors
C)      Retain Visitors
D)     Transition Visitors into membership and full participation.

    As they begin to pull these things together, we will be able to see where the “gaps” are, where we are missing things, and to develop new things to make a smoother transition from visitor to member.

    It is important to remember that this is new to us.  What the Hospitality Team does will feel awkward at first.  Their “job description” is a little fuzzy.  What they do, and how they do it, will evolve over time as they discover what they are good at, and as we better understand what Trinity needs.

    Some of the things that we know the team will be doing is to edit our welcome flyers, create information packets for new attenders, be responsible for visitor gifts (mugs, etc), be responsible for advertising, develop training or “checklists” for greeters, and probably a few things no one had thought of just yet.

    If you have an interest in any of the things that I have described, especially if you have a particular skill in one or more of these areas, I encourage you to contact Marla and offer to help.