By Pastor Tracey Leslie
“Who’s FRAN?” you might be asking yourself. FRAN is an acronym for Friend, Relative, Acquaintance, Neighbor. Though our culture is increasingly unchurched, the Christmas season is still a time when people are more open to reflection on their spiritual life. In addition, many people struggle with depression or melancholy during the holiday season and may experience feelings of loneliness or isolation. So it is an especially good time to invite someone to join you for church!
Beginning December 3, for the four Sundays of Advent (Dec. 3, 10, 17, and 24), I encourage you to bring someone with you to church. On December 3, invite a friend. On Dec. 10, invite a relative. On Dec. 17, invite an acquaintance. On Dec. 24, invite a neighbor. It’s the FRAN plan. Please do not invite people who regularly attend another church. The goal is to invite someone who is not regularly attending a church.
Finding a new building and determining where to park and what door to enter can create anxiety. So, don’t just invite them; offer to pick them up. Make sure you sit with them during worship and introduce them to those who are sitting around you. Also, I encourage you to invite them to join you for lunch after worship. Make it your treat! It doesn’t need to be anywhere fancy or expensive. You might even invite them to your home for lunch. If lunch is too difficult, offer to pick them up early and take them for coffee. Invite them to join you for a Sunday morning study at 9:15. Small group studies are one of the best ways for people to get connected to the church. It’s a smaller and more informal group of people you can begin to get to know. In today’s busy and often impersonal culture, one of the best gifts we can offer others is our presence.
Beginning in November, Sunday bulletins will include invitations you can use to invite FRAN. A spoken, personal invitation is best. Pray for your “FRANs” before you invite them. But the invitations will allow those you invite to see the name of the church, service time, and our website address in case they want to check out Trinity in advance. Remember to let those with little ones know we have Children’s Worship and a fully staffed nursery throughout the morning.
We all want Trinity to grow and nothing is more effective in encouraging people to attend a church than a personal invitation from someone they know.
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?
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.
Did you have a favorite story as a child? I did. Mine was The Fire Cat by Esther Averill. It was the story of a homeless cat named Pickles. With no one to care for him, Pickles terrorized other cats in the neighborhood. But a woman in the neighborhood named Mrs. Goodkind saw potential in Pickles. Through a strange twist of circumstances, Pickles becomes the Fire House cat whose life is turned around when he discovers his purpose in rescuing other cats that become stranded in trees. Pickles’ life changes because of Mrs. Goodkind’s compassion and encouragement. At one point in the story, she pronounces this promise over Pickles’ life: “Pickles, you are a big cat with big paws and someday you will do big things.”
As you all know, I’m much more of a dog person. Yet, the story of Pickles made a deep impression on me. That little story taught me something about life and the power of love to effect change in people’s lives. A good story has great power…
In the upcoming months, we hope to build stronger relationships with our neighborhood and the sharing of our stories will be an important part of that process. We hope to begin our outreach with Ruth Smith’s Photovoice project designed to capture the stories of our neighborhood. Ruth will draw together members of our church and those who live and work in the Centennial Neighborhood to share their stories through photo narrative.
During the month of April, you’ll hear more about our Community Garden. There will be neighborhood walks to invite our neighbors to get involved. We plan to host Community Cookouts to draw together members of our community for food and fellowship; so we can get to know one another and share our stories with one another. On each Sunday in April, during morning worship, members of this team will share ways you can become engaged in this initiative.
Another team of Trinity folks will meet with teachers and administrators at Miller Elementary School in hopes of identifying families in need with whom we can build relationships over the course of the school year. Along with providing school supplies, we’ll come together regularly for food and fellowship and, once again, have the opportunity to share our stories with one another and build relationships. This team will make announcements in worship throughout the month of May.
Beginning in July, Morris DuBose will lead a small group of Trinity folks who will come together to share their stories with one another over the course of several weeks. Sharing our stories allows us to become more aware of God’s grace moving in our lives. Knowing our history provides the opportunity for us to view our individual stories through the lens of faith. Author Lisa Hess writes:
You know less about yourself now than you will when you have shared your story. If you are willing to risk becoming more aware of the mystery of being human and a child of God, you will come to hear unexpected elements of your own story...
Our biblical gospels are stories that draw us into relationship with Jesus. I hope in the upcoming months that you will get engaged in these various groups that will allow us to fulfill Trinity’s vision of growing in love and service through relationships with God and community.
Read more about the Community Garden.
What's New at Trinity
Keep up to date on the happenings at Trinity