By Pastor Tracey Leslie
In the spring of 1990, I invited my neighbor in the apartment next to mine to go on an evening grocery store run. I didn’t know my neighbor well. But it was seminary housing; he was a nice young man and we’d begun to talk together on the way to class. Besides, I lived in the city and it was late and I didn’t want to drive through a dicey part of town that late by myself. He agreed. We didn’t know one another well, but on the way back to seminary I made some off-the-cuff remark about the distant future (that I no longer recall) and my neighbor (named Britt) said to me, “Oh, you don’t know; I could significantly alter your future.”
As a matter of fact, he did… Although I would have hardly imagined on that evening so long ago how our lives would intertwine. August 31 marked our 26th wedding anniversary!
As many of you have no doubt noticed, when I preach or teach, I often emphasize that Christianity is not a belief system; but rather a relational system. Being a Christian is about developing and growing a relationship with God through Christ AND – of equal importance – developing authentic, caring relationships with others.
In the spring of 2015, Trinity’s Church Council officially approved our current vision statement: “Growing in love and service through relationships with God and community.” Relationships are what Christianity is about. Relationships are what Trinity must be about.
Now that we have reduced our facilities (and the time, money and energy needed for their upkeep), we can focus more time and energy on building relationships. This September, Trinity will be launching several new small group study and fellowship opportunities as a part of our Ready Set Grow program. Jeremy Grossman has written a great article about the value of discipleship and a new study he will be leading on Sunday mornings. Check it out on page 6. Monday evenings will also be time set aside for group gatherings. Morris DuBose continues meeting with his Story Group as a critical component of our Ready Set Grow process. Beginning September 18, Abby Lietz Agee will be leading a women’s study on the first and third Mondays of each month. Also beginning Sept. 18, Terry Stamper will be leading a men’s study every third Monday of the month. Kristi Evans will resume her once monthly ladies gathering in her home on the 4th Monday of each month. And Ruth Smith, our Community Engagement Coach will be leading studies on the second Monday of each month to bring together members of our church and community to examine critical issues about building stronger communities and addressing community needs.
Nothing changes our lives as dramatically as relationships. I hope you’ve found value in the relationships you’ve formed at Trinity whether you’ve been here several months or decades. I hope you’ll take a step
toward deepening those relationships by engaging in a small group study this fall. Also, keep in mind that small group study is an ideal way to invite friends to check out Trinity. What better gift could you offer a friend than the opportunity to experience hospitality, make new friends, and deepen their relationship with Christ and others?
By Jeremy Grossman
Recently, Pastor Tracey asked me to help steer Trinity’s Discipleship efforts as a member of the Governing Board. Before accepting, I had to first wrap my head around what “Discipleship” meant to me. After reading what many scholars had to say on the topic (okay, I admit it—I Googled it), I kept coming back to one idea that resonated with me: a disciple is a student, someone seeking wisdom or knowledge or skills. This pursuit, though, is not simply about acquisition—it’s about application. A disciple is actively seeking to transform his or her life.
Once I got a hold of this concept, it led me to revisit my days as a classroom teacher and my philosophy of education. Again, my inspiration is non-traditional: the animated Disney film, TARZAN. In the movie, a young Tarzan, desperate to be accepted by his adopted gorilla family, dedicates himself to becoming “the best ape ever.” Cue the montage of young Tarzan observing, growing, trying, learning by experience, and eventually applying what he learns to help his family, all to the tune of a Phil Collins song with the pivotal lyric, “…in learning you will teach, in teaching you will learn.”
This, to me, is key: discipleship is an ongoing, lifelong, two-way street process. We never stop being students. As we seek to grow ourselves, we are able to assist others, and then, in turn, be helped again ourselves. We learn, we teach, we learn some more. We don’t have to know all the answers or have ourselves all together (because who among us does?) to simply step in and BE THERE for others. In fact, often we find the best way to help ourselves is to stop and help someone else.
The idea of the IRON WORKS Discipleship Discussion group came to me as I contemplated one of the most famous verses about the importance of meaningful relationships, Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another” (NRSV). In other words, we can better ourselves through our relationships with others.
Considering the Trinity Vision Statement, we can grow in love and service through our relationships with God and Community, and I believe those two are intertwined through discipleship: we can grow with God as we seek meaningful relationships with our community, and we can grow with our community as we seek to improve our relationship with God.
The IRON WORKS Discipleship Discussion group will take place as a Sunday School class. Over six weeks, we will study and reflect on the following keystones as guides for personal and relational discipleship:
A DISCIPLE acts with:
· INTENT, living by purpose and decision, not passivity and default (Ephesians 5:15-16)
· RECOGNITION of his/her position as a servant leader, offering his/her talents and gifts to God and others (Romans 12:4-7)
· OBEDIENCE to Christ’s essential commandments (Matthew 22:37-39)
· NOBILITY, seeking to be a witness of God’s love in word and deed (Colossians 3:12-17)
· These principles culminate in WORKS, loving outreach to others as a fundamental application of faith (James 2:14-26).
The class starts September 10 at 9:15 in the Parlor Conference Room. Childcare and refreshments will be available. All are welcome.
Living God’s Vision for Trinity
By Pastor Tracey Leslie
In the spring of 2015, after our work with church growth consultant Rev. Dr. Dan Bonner, Trinity adopted a new Vision Statement: Growing in love and service through relationships with God and community.
On occasion, members have asked me: “Who is the community; us or the neighborhood?” And I have replied, “Yes!” In other words, our goal is to be ONE community. Have you noticed Trinity’s new logo? It is a graphic representation of people in a circle, connecting with one another. Christianity isn’t a belief system; it is a relational system. Being a Christian is about being in relationship with God through Jesus AND (of equal importance) being in relationship with others through the experience of Christian community.
This fall, Trinity will launch its annual stewardship campaign. When we think of stewardship, we often think of money. When we think of money, we often think of paying the bills. But Trinity – even our facilities and structures – are ultimately about community and relationships.
On August 27 at our Celebration Luncheon we will celebrate more than the retirement of our debt and improvements to our church’s brick façade. We will also celebrate the blessing that – without debt and our Education Building – our expenses are reduced and more money is made available for building relationships!
This fall, beginning August 27 and continuing through October, we’ll consider Stewardship a little differently as we focus on Building, Growing and Connecting.
I hope this fall you will be as engaged at Trinity as your schedule permits. I hope you will come to treasure – as I have come to cherish – opportunities to break bread, to worship, to learn, to grow, to serve, and to experience community in new and exciting ways. Let us Build, Grow and Connect that we might live out God’s vision for Trinity.
By Melissa Kramer
Trinity is ready to begin a new family-to-family ministry. Our team of dedicated volunteers has identified a need in our community to provide relational support to families in the Lafayette area. Through monthly meals and events, we hope to form lasting connections with the families we will be working with. No relationship can be one-sided, so the nature of this ministry is a partnership between the members of Trinity and the families. We want to get to know our neighbors, but we also want our neighbors to be able to know us.
Trinity is partnering with Lafayette Urban Ministry (LUM) in an effort to provide housing and respond to other identified needs for families in the Lafayette area. LUM will be handling the housing portion, while Trinity members will meet with the families on a monthly basis. These monthly gatherings will offer food and a time for families to grow together and connect with each other. Families will also be connected with church members on an as-needed basis to provide need-specific support.
We have identified three “tiers” or levels of volunteer commitment that will allow our church members to participate in this ministry without feeling overwhelmed. Our core group leading this ministry has met with Joe Micon, Executive Director at LUM, and will be organizing the monthly gatherings with the families. The second level of volunteers will be our “once a month” volunteers. Those who serve on a monthly basis will either make one monthly visit with a family, or they will be serving at the monthly meal. The third level is what we hope everyone will fall into. We will need occasional donated supplies that we will give to the families, as well as members of the church who have special resources/information/knowledge that they can share with the families. Maybe you have perfected the skill of budgeting and would like to help others learn how to budget. Or maybe you are a parent/grandparent and can empathize with other parents. We all have something that we can offer to others. In the coming weeks and months, be praying about how you would can enhance Trinity’s Family to Family Ministry.
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