10 Rules for Church Planting: An Antidote to Hurry

Jordan Peterson set off a trend with his book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Everyone is doing their own “12 rules for life” now. Malcolm Gladwell just devoted an entire podcast to it. The only problem: He only has one rule for life. (It’s worth a listen.)

We may not have twelve rules for life (yet), but we do have ten commitments. Consider this our 10 Rules for Church Planting: An Antidote to Hurry.

In a series of leadership meetings over the winter (2017-18), we have sought to envision and define a healthy church culture. We asked the question, “What type of church culture will give us the best chance of continuous fruitfulness generation after generation?”

The following ten commitments reflect the culture we envision and describe the commitments required to sustain our vision (a Grace centered church that Loves one another and promotes the Renewal of the community). The commitments also provide a “code of conduct” for our leaders and members to embody.

1. We Are Family. 

We are relational beings, made in the image of the triune God. Relationship is our deepest longing and greatest need.

We put others first. We begin and end with grace. We don’t gossip, and we don’t have to have the last word.

2. We Are Not in a Hurry. 

Soul work is slow work. We move slow and play the long game.

Church planting is normally fueled by hurry, caffeine, and adrenaline. Hurry is, by definition, an unsustainable pace. We reject the mantra of “faster, bigger, better.”

3. We Honor God by Enjoying Our Lives. 

Life in Christ is the ultimate gift. We live in a state of joy and gratitude because of God’s grace.

The pressure is off. We have nothing to prove and no one to impress. We can even have fun!

4. We Promote Our City’s Renewal.

We love Columbia and its surrounding towns. We don’t live for ourselves but for the good of our neighbors.

We reach people, build them up, and release them back into the world to make a difference. We’re not building a dynasty. We are a leadership greenhouse: We cultivate leaders.

5. We Make Room for Outsiders.

We don’t exist just for who’s here but also for who’s not here. We remember what it feels like to be an outsider. All decisions consider the empty chair.

We believe beauty is unity in diversity; we fight for diversity and celebrate it.

6. We Lead as a Team.

We can go faster alone, but we will go further together. We are quick to praise and slow to criticize. We keep our faces soft.

We don’t use people to grow our ministries; we use our ministries to grow people. We reject celebrity-culture, platform-building church consumerism.

7. We Expect Constant Resistance.

We are in a spiritual war. The battle must be fought anew every day. We don’t complain or get bitter. 

We receive life’s challenges with gratitude and grit. We let pain and suffering soften us, rather than harden us.

8. We Trust the Process. 

God works through process; he takes his people the long way around.

We carry life’s complexities with empathy. We receive what’s given.

9. We Give It All Away.

We are recipients and stewards of all we are given. Our posture is abundance, not scarcity. 

If our leaders go on to do great things, and we won’t get the credit, we will have succeeded.  

10. We Celebrate Every Season.

We celebrate the valleys, the peaks, the plains, and the wilderness.

We rest well because we’re not in charge. We enjoy regular Sabbaths, retreats, and sabbaticals.

***

There are our church planting commitments—our antidote to hurry.

If these commitments resonate with you, or if you are interested in church planting, we would love to talk! You can visit one of our gatherings or send us a message.

Much love!

Outdoor Movie Night (Rescheduled)

Our first Outdoor Movie Night (May 25) was rained out, but don't worry: We have rescheduled it for this Friday night (June 1).

We will gather at Louisville Park (806 Louisville Drive) in West Columbia at 8:00pm to watch the film Zootopia. Bring your own blankets, chairs, and snacks. Water and popsicles will be provided, and everything is free.

Our summer Outdoor Movie series schedule:

Friday, June 1, Zootopia
Friday, June 29, Frozen
Friday, July 27, Inside Out
Friday, Aug 24, movie TBD
Friday, Sept 28, movie TBD

 

Holy Weekend: Experiencing Resurrection (Part Two)

In Part One, we introduced the Great Triduum (Three Days) and concluded in the darkness of Good Friday:

The Good Friday service ends with increasing darkness, as if we were moving further into the cave of Jesus’s burial. Finally, a final candle is snuffed out. There is no final hymn, no benediction, no soaring anthem. Christ has left the building. Ministers at the exits may take a blunt nail and press into the palms of the congregants, reenacting Christ’s pierced skin in their place. It is finished.

We often don’t pause here. We rush to the Good News. But the great Story doesn’t rush; God is never in a hurry. Especially on Holy Weekend, we must slow down. We have to linger. We must remain, even if only for a moment, in the darkness, before we return to the light.

Holy Saturday

On Saturday of Holy Week, the final of the Great Triduum, there are no gatherings. There is no singing, there are no candles lit, there are no Scriptures read. Christ is in the tomb.

Holy Saturday is a day of nothingness. We must take this day seriously. We can’t rush to the Good News of Sunday without letting the Bad news of Friday linger for a full day on Saturday. Imagine the disciples’ agony: Their friend was gone; the dream was over; cold, brutal reality was left to deal with.

Unfortunately, the experience of this day is all too real to us. We are often “stuck in the mood of ambiguity and powerlessness of Holy Saturday.”[1] Think about it: We know that Jesus has died for our sins, that he was crucified and buried in dramatic reality. And while we know that resurrection of Jesus has happened, we don’t see new life springing forth in eternal beauty.

Have you felt this?

We know Jesus is the Son of God, that he reigns in power, that we are one with him. Yet our day-to-day experience is instead one of powerlessness, pain, and lonely suffering. Life between Friday and Sunday is an “almost” sort of life.[2] Somewhere along the way, the joy, peace, and wonder of life with God has been replaced by skepticism, brokenness, and sheer weariness. 

What do we do with this? I believe we have to embrace these feelings, push deeper into them, and then with equal fervor, press all the way into the pain until Easter Sunday rises in the morning.

Resurrection Sunday

Whereas Christmas has become the most significant Christian holiday in the Western Church, the birth of Jesus means nothing without his death and resurrection. A great life that ends in the grave is no Savior.

Easter Sunday celebrates the majesty of the resurrection: He was dead and buried, but…

But on the third day, he rose in victory over Satan, sin, and death! The resurrection of our Lord is the proof of God’s love for us, the foundation of our faith and life, and the highlight of the Christian year.

In my own life, I feel a familiarity with the darkness of Good Friday and Holy Saturday, but struggle to fully embrace with joy the risen Lord of Easter Sunday. Perhaps in wanting to preserve the “lows” of the Great Triduum, though, we can hesitate to fully leap into the glorious Light of the resurrection.

When he rises, we rise—since we are in him. When he begins a new and eternal life, we begin a new and eternal life. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).

The resurrection is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises (see Acts 13) and the fulfillment of our deepest longings. It’s really true: In the end, there is still life, there is still love. Everything sad will come untrue!

***

As Christians, we can live in the power and joy and peace of the resurrection. By pressing deeper into the events of Holy Weekend—even the darkness of Good Friday and the silence of Holy Saturday—we discover the power of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Jesus raised and ascended, with work to do still on earth, is our joy and hope and calling. Because Jesus lives today, we live. And we live with the same Holy Spirit that filled him, giving us the same sort of life and power for community and ministry. In the resurrection, Jesus invites us into relationship with the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Nothing is ever the same again!

In Jesus’s own words in the upper room: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

***

[1] Andrew Purves, The Resurrection of Ministry: Serving in the Hope of the Risen Lord, 11-12.

[2] Purves, 16. 

Holy Weekend: Experiencing Resurrection (Part One)

I grew up in the church, so when it came time for the annual youth retreat, for a camp trip, or for a special rally, I was there—reluctantly, in the back row, leaning against the wall, with one foot out the door.

I liked my church’s youth group, but these intended “highs” always bugged me. The recipe was: You pull a bunch of young people away from non-Christian influences, fill them with sugar and caffeine, and bring in your best Hype Guy to give his testimony. Even at 13 or 16, I would do an epic Liz Lemon eye roll and just wait it all out.

But as I’ve gotten older, I miss those weekends. There actually is beauty there—getting away, feeling something. It turns out the adult life is a long thread of days that looked and felt just like the one before it.

In more than a decade of pastoral ministry, I’ve wrestled with this tension. How much should we cultivate special, extraordinary experiences in the faith, and how often should we just put our heads down and follow God—living quiet lives, minding our own business, working with our hands (1 Thessalonians 4:11)?

Thankfully, we are not alone in this struggle: The Church has historically wrestled with the times and seasons of the Christian life, and the Church Calendar was formed and embraced as a way of living in this tension.

I’ve written here recently and spoken on this frequently: The liturgical calendar is something the contemporary church must recover. Even as a brand-new-and-not-even-public-yet church plant, we have no desire to be innovative. Instead, we want to recover the treasures that have been lost.

And the historic Church has one weekend each year that pulls together all our longings—for celebration, for embodied faith, and for renewed commitment. Easter is that weekend.

Maundy Thursday

Holy Weekend begins with what has traditionally been called the Great Triduum, meaning Three Great Days, in the historic church. These are the days that we remember with great solemnity the final events of Jesus’s life on earth. The season of Lent officially ends on the Thursday of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday. The term Maundy derives from the Latin Mandatum Novum, meaning “a new commandment.”[1]

On Thursday night, Jesus gathered with his disciples in the upper room (John 13-17; Luke 22). His earthly work was complete, and now he was preparing himself and his disciples for what must come next. He washed their feet in an act of marvelous humility; he promised the Holy Spirit; he spoke the new commandment of love; he instituted the Lord’s Supper; and he retreated to Gethsemane to pray and be arrested.

In my evangelical background, Maundy Thursday wasn’t celebrated. But without it, we lack an awareness of the magnitude of this day in the history of redemption. Maundy Thursday recalls the institution of the Lord’s Supper. “We are reminded of the connection made between bread, wine, and death. We are reminded that the death of Jesus is no mere human tragedy but a voluntary suffering by Jesus to be a sacrifice for us.”[2]

In Catholic and Episcopal tradition, Maundy Thursday is a communion (Eucharist) service concluded with the solemn stripping of the communion table, symbolizing the stripping of Jesus’s garments in preparation for crucifixion. The ministers remove from the table the bread and wine, take away all signs of life (flowers lamps, candles, and tablecloths), and silently wash the table with water. These things are put away until the day of the resurrection.

Good Friday

In the early church, Good Friday is practiced as a continuation of Thursday night. Beginning in the fourth century, there are records of Christians going to the Garden of Gethsemane to remember and practice communion, then returning to Jerusalem by night, arriving Good Friday morning to remember Jesus’s trial, crucifixion, death, and burial.

On Good Friday, we remember that it was our sins that put Jesus on the Cross. Many parts of the Church still practice the Stations of the Cross, a slow, purposeful walk through scenes from Jesus’s trial and crucifixion.[3]

Good Friday gatherings have become more popular in the Protestant tradition with good reason: We need an annual reminder of our sin, its penalty of death, and Christ’s willing sacrifice in our place. In a Good Friday gathering, there’s no Good News—no proclamation of resurrection, no empty tomb, no Easter Sunday. It’s simply death, burial, and darkness.

The Good Friday service ends with increasing darkness, as if we were moving further into the cave of Jesus’s burial. Finally, a final candle is snuffed out. There is no final hymn, no benediction, no soaring anthem. Christ has left the building. Ministers at the exits may take a blunt nail and press into the palms of the congregants, reenacting Christ’s pierced skin in their place.[4]

It is finished.

We often don’t pause here. We rush to the Good News. But the great Story doesn’t rush; God is never in a hurry. Especially on Holy Weekend, we must slow down. We have to linger. We must remain, even if only for a moment, in the darkness, before we return to the light.

(Part Two is coming Friday.)

 

***

[1] Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality Through the Christian Year, 127.
[2]
Webber, 128-29.
[3]
In Catholic tradition, nine stages of the Cross come directly from Scripture, and an additional five are added from popular tradition.
[4]
Andrew Purves, The Resurrection of Ministry: Serving in the Hope of the Risen Lord, 13. 

Ash Wednesday and the Practice of Lent

This morning, we gathered for a brief, informal Ash Wednesday service. As a liturgical church, we embrace the historic church calendar as a way to organize our worship gatherings and congregational ministries. So what is Ash Wednesday, and what does it look like to practice the Lenten season as Protestants?

Lent is the six-and-a-half week season leading up to Good Friday and Easter. It is a time for repentance through self-examination and renewal through identification with the journey of Jesus. We follow him from the Upper Room (John 13-17) to the Garden of Gethsemane and onward to our trial and crucifixion. It’s a time for prayer, fasting, and giving ourselves away. At Lent, we say, “Not my will but yours be done.”

It’s of huge spiritual value that we recover the spiritual intent of Ash Wednesday and the Lenten spiritual season. Faith is not simply a belief system; it’s an active embodiment, a life lived out in true practice in prayer, fasting, and giving ourselves away. And these are not just impersonal rituals; this is an engaging, demanding, committed relationship.

In Lent, we’re doing battle against four things: Laziness in our spiritual life; Negativity in our outlook/attitude toward circumstances; Lust for power and comfort; and Destructive words, actions, and thoughts.

Those four things are replaced through relationship and virtues: Wholeness in our spiritual life; Humility in our outlook toward circumstances; Patience in the waiting; Love—sincere care for others. (See Bruce Weber's Ancient-Future Faith.)

ASH WEDNESDAY

Thousands of years ago, the church began the practice of Ash Wednesday, centering on the themes remembrance and repentance. It is the somber day where we Remember that we will die and we Repent of our sin. (I’m convinced that when pastors came up with Ash Wednesday in the 4th Century, it was to have a therapeutic outlet for our own daily encounters with sin, grief and hopelessness. Each year, we can have one utterly depressing service.)

As Christians, we don’t have to search for clever things to say about pain, suffering and death. We have our own experience, we have the experience of our church family, and we have the Scriptures, which speak profoundly into the human problem. We each have our own personal wounds and we carry with us the wounds of our church family: Sickness (anxiety, depression, chronic pain, cancer and disease); Brokenness (broken marriages, broken homes, broken hope and the worst form—loneliness); and Death (miscarriages, family deaths, and spiritual deadness apart from Christ). 

We also know pain, suffering and death because we have God’s Word, and the holy Scriptures that are brutally honest about corruption, sin and loss. Christianity is full of paradoxes, and this is one of them. Death has lost its sting, but death still stings. Death has been swallowed up in victory, but we’re all still one call away from tragedy.

REMEMBER THAT YOU WILL DIE

One of the classic Ash Wednesday texts is Psalm 90, written by Moses, who was no stranger to the hardship of life. Orphaned as a baby, a foreigner in a heathen country, he killed a man and fled to the hills. Then God appears to him, and instead of crushing him, calls him to ministry. God uses him to deliver the people out of Egypt, through the Red Sea and into… The wilderness. 40 years with the Israelites: they’re sad, they’re whiney, they’re writing songs about how no one understands them—they’re the original hipsters. From the wilderness, where food and water were scarce, heat and cold were constant, and with two million people looking to him for deliverance, Moses turns his face toward God, and writes Psalm 90. 

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
   throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
   or you brought forth the earth and the world,   
   from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Moses starts with an acknowledgement that God is God— he is everlasting, he is Creator, he is our dwelling place. And now he pours out his prayer to God:

3 You turn men back to dust,
     saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.”
4 For a thousand years in your sight       
     are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
5 You sweep men away in the sleep of death;      
     they are like the new grass of the morning—
6 though in the morning it springs up new,
     by evening it is dry and withered.

The Bible is not silent about the hardship of life, the reality of suffering and the curse of death. Moses reminds us that we will die. To our eternal God, even a thousand years is like the falling and rising of the sun. So God is eternal but we are very much finite. We are swept away; we grow, dry out and wither; we are cut down.Moses continues:

9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
     we finish our years with a moan.
10 The length of our days is seventy years—
     or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
     for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

So life is short but even the days that we do have are filled with trouble and sorrow. 70 or 80 years—gone in a moment. This is what we say: “Time flies! Where did the time go?” In his Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis asks why we have such trouble keeping track of time.

“It is as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the wetness of water. And that would be strange indeed; unless of course the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.”

Moses knew there was more to life than momentary suffering and certain death. So he finishes his prayer:

13 Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?
     Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
     that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Moses’ simple prayer: “Lord, have mercy!” Don’t let us suffer forever. Have compassion on us. Satisfy us with your love; let us experience joy and gladness—even in this mess. Moses is praying for what God has already promised!

REPENT OF YOUR SINS

God promises are clear and compelling throughout Scripture. God promises salvation for all who repent of sin. Repentance is turning from one way completely to another—not just a partial turn, but a complete and decisive, 180-degree turn. It is not just admitting you are sinful, that’s a partial turn; it’s also trusting in Christ.

God promised the prophet Isaiah (30:15, 18):

In repentance and rest is your salvation,
   in quietness and trust is your strength…
The Lord longs to be gracious to you;
   he rises to show you compassion.

Repentance is not just something you do once to free yourself from God’s wrath; it is a lifestyle of turning from sin and trusting in Christ. Jesus made this invitation, which holds true today (Matthew 11:28-30):

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

REST IN CHRIST

Christianity makes sense of our weariness and our burdens, and it also invites us to the One in whom we can find rest. So while you remember that you will die, and repent of your sins, you can now truly rest in Christ. 

You can rest in Christ because you are now freely accepted by God. If you haven’t fully received God’s grace in Jesus, then you cannot fully rest. But from a position of rest and security, we enjoy a holistic, full, blessed life with God; what the Hebrew writers called “shalom.” You don’t have to pull yourself together; you don’t even have to suffer well. You can suffer poorly, because Jesus suffered well.

In Christ, we can rest even while fighting our decaying bodies, while attending funeral after funeral. In the 18th Century, a Christian poet riddled with depression wrote a famous hymn:

God moves in a mysterious way,
  His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,     
  And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines     
  Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,      
  And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,      
  The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break      
  In blessings on your head.

Judge not the LORD by feeble sense,      
  But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,     
  He hides a smiling face.

COVERED BY THE CROSS

The ashes traditionally imposed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday help us remember that we have sinned and we will die. We return to the dust from whence we came.

And throughout the Bible, a person’s face is a significant theme—it’s his or her true self, representing our identity as well as our deepest emotions. When Cain killed Abel, God marked his face as a curse. Moses hid his face from God because he knew he was full of sin. And Jesus called the religious people of his day “hypocrites,” an acting term for putting a mask over your true face.

The Cross is a symbol of both shame and grace, and whether it's a literal cross as on Ash Wednesday or the invisible reality of its power over our lives, we can wear it on our faces proudly. Psalm 34 says:

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;     
      he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;      
     their faces are never covered with shame.

This Cross is a reminder that Christ was covered with shame so that we can be covered with grace. The truest thing about us—our faces—are no longer covered with shame; now we are covered by the Cross. 

 

We're Moving!

Hey friends,

I’m excited to share that beginning January 21st, we will begin meeting Sundays at 10am at Columbia Independent School.

New Time, New Place

This is a change for us in two ways: First, we are moving from evening gatherings to morning gatherings. Second, we are from our home and the event center to gathering every week at Columbia Independent School (CIS).

This Sunday, January 21, we will hold a Preview Gathering—a full worship service where we as a new church family can get a glimpse of the future.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we are launching full worship gatherings every week. We will continue to hold Preview Gatherings once per month, and on the other Sundays, we’ll gather at the same time and place for fellowship, Bible study, and prayer. TrinityKids ministry will be available every Sunday.

Our New Home

There are a few reasons why we are excited about CIS. First, the location (1801 North Stadium Boulevard) is more centrally located, so that it’s more convenient for our folks coming from downtown or the University campus. It’s also accessible to North Columbia, which we are excited about, and more convenient for our families that live outside the city.

Second, the space is ideal. We will be meeting in the Performing Arts Room, which is set up with a stage, sound system, and up to 200 chairs. This means we’ll have minimal setup and teardown, and we’ll have a space that can feel small but also accommodate growth in the coming years.

Lastly, the administration and staff of CIS is not just allowing us to use their space, but have actively made it easy for us to make the building our Sunday home. We are exceedingly thankful to CIS’s leaders for making their space available and hospitable to us.

A New Season

It has been a wonderful six months gathering in our home. We will never forget this season. It has been one of the joys of our lifetimes to gather with ten, fifteen, or twenty-five people each Sunday night in our living room.

We have seen people who had no church home find a place to belong. We have seen strangers become friends. We have seen a group of individuals with little else in common besides Christ become a true spiritual family.

All of that will continue at Columbia Independent! We hope to always feel like a living room church, even when we don’t fit in a living room any more. Our mission is to cultivate Christ centered community. And our move to Sunday mornings at CIS will enable us to be more fruitful together in fulfilling that mission.

We hope to see you this Sunday!

Pastor Jeremy 

Trinity Update: Winter 2017

Season’s Greetings, Friends!

It’s been about six weeks since our last update, and a lot has happened! In fact, we are seeking 31 people to pray for us one day each in December—more on that at the end. 

Fall Update

We held our first public preview gatherings on October 15th and November 12th. Both services were an absolute joy: We had a wonderful time of worship, prayer, and fellowship, truly sensing the Spirit’s power as we gathered. Each gathering served about 35 adults and 15 kids, with first-time visitors at each. Praise the Lord! Throughout the past two months, we’ve been reading and discussing revival narratives in the Old Testament and praying that God would do a new work among us for his glory in this place.

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December: Making Room

So, what’s next for us at Trinity? As you know, this Sunday starts the Advent season—a time of prayerfully making room for Christ in our hearts, preparing for the celebration of Christmas. At Trinity, it is also a time of making room for more people to experience Christ among and through us. Our final preview gathering of 2017 will be on Sunday evening, December 10th. Will you pray that we would continue to experience joy and power in worship and minister to new guests and families?

  The "Magic Tree" is lit every year and thousands of people from across Missouri come to see it. It is located across the street from where our Preview Gatherings meet.

The "Magic Tree" is lit every year and thousands of people from across Missouri come to see it. It is located across the street from where our Preview Gatherings meet.

Prayer Requests

Speaking of prayer requests, we have several big ones. We have experienced enough growth to need to move into a larger meeting space in January… but we don’t yet have a lease secured. We have a few options, but nothing yet has fit our vision and budget. Please pray for a space! Similarly, we have healthy internal giving coming in now, and our external funding has been strong all year. But we need a significant funding boost in the next two months to be able to afford a rental space and prepare to launch.

So, I really sound like a church planter. (Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…) We need people, money, and meeting space!

We have felt the strong joy and presence of God through every step of this journey, and this is most likely the most significant set of challenges or barriers we have faced to date. Where will we meet next month? How will we make budget? How can we make room to faithfully reach people?

Surely the Lord will provide. Through our prayer and submission to him, we will be changed in the process. And he will receive all praise and glory. This is how he works! So we are asking you to join us in this season of prayer and longing.

Commit to a Day of Prayer?

In light of our need and the opportunity for God’s glory before us, we would like to secure at least one person praying for us each day of December. We’re seeking 31 one-day prayer warriors!

If you would enjoy committing to a day of prayer for Trinity (I mean, you can still go to work and pray a few times as you are able), will you reply by email to me at jeremy@trinitymo.org? Give us a day or two that you can be praying for us, and we’ll put you down for a specific date.

Pray that the Lord would give grace, strength, and wisdom to our leaders. Pray that he would provide for our every need—space, people, funding. Pray that we would all be changed along the way.

Much love and grace,
Jeremy, Jessie, and the Team

Our First Preview Gathering!

Hey friends, 

Really big news: Our first Trinity Church preview gathering will be 5:00pm Sunday, October 15th at Cherry Hill Event Center!!

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Over the past month, the Sunday evening gatherings in our home have grown from ten adults and six kids to an average of 22-24 adults and 8-10 kids. We will hold three Fall preview gatherings (also on November 12th and December 10th at Cherry Hill), as we continue to build our community and prepare to go public. 

What is a Preview Gathering?

We will gather to do what Christians have done for centuries: sing, break bread, and read the Word. It's a great opportunity for us to worship together in a way that gives us a vision of the future. Although we always hope to have a family-room feel to our church, we also recognize the need to meet in larger spaces on Sundays. These gatherings also give us the opportunity to invite friends, neighbors, and coworkers to a larger but still low-pressure gathering.

We'll sing six or seven songs together and follow a traditional liturgy of Psalms and communal prayers; I (Jeremy) will preach a 25-30 minute sermon from Ephesians; we'll take communion together; and we'll have safe, fun children's ministry.

Introducing TrinityKids

At our preview gatherings, we are starting our (more) formal TrinityKids ministry for children from 6 months to 6 years. Kids will enjoy play time, snacks, structured activities, and a short Bible lesson with take-home coloring sheets.

Our TrinityKids leaders include volunteers from our own group as well as incredible volunteers helping from our partner churches. They are trusted, kid-loving people! 

***

Please notice that this time is different from our usual meeting time--we'll meet an hour earlier for preview gatherings to better serve families with small children, and so that we can all go out to dinner together afterwards. So come a few minutes before 5:00! (Actually, if you're willing and able, please consider coming around 3:30 to help set up.)

We hope you'll spread the word, invite a friend, and join us on October 15th! 

Much love,
Jeremy

Responding to Hurricane Harvey

Hey Trinity members and friends, 

This past Sunday evening, we prayed for Houston and the surrounding areas in light of Hurricane Harvey. We also prayed for one of our partner churches, Sojourn Church in Beaumont, TX. 

Sojourn's pastor, Josh Jean, posted this message on our network's website today, with some ways we can help and partner. We have already made a donation on behalf of the church--so your regular Trinity giving is already providing much-needed disaster relief through a great local church. But we wanted to give you another way to donate additional funds to purchase clothing and other items for displaced families. Thanks, church! JSL

From Josh: 

We have just returned from the Beaumont Civic Center, which is where the Red Cross’ emergency shelter for Beaumont is located. They currently have over 800 people and 75 animals housed there. I was able to speak with a Red Cross official to gather the most important items they currently need. Here they are:

New Socks
Gently used or new T-shirts
New Underwear
Gently used or new Blankets
Gently used or new Towels
Stuffed Animals - Neutral
Dog Food
Baby/Kids clothes
Gently used or new Pillows
Individual Toiletries: Rag, Shampoo, Hand Lotion, comb.
Packaged food (cookies, crackers, etc.)

We are going to be collecting these items this afternoon to deliver for those in need. You can donate money specifically to this cause. You can either give online (website or Chase Paygiving@sojournbeaumont.com, be sure to note it is for Hurricane relief) or you can pledge the money and contribute it at a later date. If you would like to pledge money, please email giving@sojournbeaumont.com so we can track it all in one place.

 

 

    How Do We Make Disciples? (Part One)

    When discussing discipleship, many things may come to mind—a class, a program, a Bible study, family worship, one-on-one mentoring, a core set of doctrines, or an early developmental stage.

    At Trinity, we believe discipleship is the work of the church. Jesus left his disciples with this command:

    Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

    We think discipleship is not as difficult as the church has often made it to be, and there are no magic bullets to guarantee discipleship. Discipleship is neither a duty to perform nor a puzzle to solve. Before we can discuss how we make disciples, we have to define the process and the goal. 

    Here’s how we define it: 

    Discipleship is the life-giving, grace-filled process of being with Christ and becoming like him together.

    First, discipleship will be life-giving if it is truly centered on Jesus Christ.

    He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Our groups should primarily be marked by life and not stagnation, joy and not defeat, encouragement and not gossip. In other words, discipleship must be “gospel centered”—ministry rooted in Jesus and his gospel.  

    Second, discipleship is grace-filled. 

    We recognize that spiritual transformation comes through God’s grace, not simply our effort. God’s grace enables us to want to be with Christ and become like him (Titus 2:11-13). We will fail frequently, but his grace sustains us along the way.

    Third, discipleship is a process.

    It’s not a theory, a class, a program, or a time of the week. Similar to a worldview, a process—a new way of living, with new habits and routines—must be produced if we are to life like Christ and as his salt and light in the world.

    Fourth, discipleship is a process of being with Christ.

    It is not a primarily way of doing more for him or the church. The first invitation of discipleship is not to growth or change or even obedience; it is simply to come to Jesus. The words of Matthew 11:28-30 demonstrate our Lord’s heart for his disciples:

    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

    Fifth, discipleship is a way of becoming like him.

    Once we have spent time in the presence of the King, we will gradually become more like him. Our growth in Christlikeness produces a real change, and our obedience becomes an internal desire rather than an external compulsion. We become what we behold, according to Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:18.

    And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 

    Lastly, discipleship happens together.

    Our being and becoming like Christ is not an individual pursuit. It is deeply personal, yet it does not happen primarily in a “Jesus and me” context. Instead, the best possible place of spiritual transformation is the local church—and most specifically, a small, regular, committed group of believers pursuing the same end.

     

    If we want to find a blueprint for discipleship, we must begin where all true discipleship should begin, by looking at the earthly life and ministry of Jesus.

    Stay tuned for Part Two! 

     

    This post is an excerpt from the forthcoming ebook, Life-Giving Groups, by Jeremy Linneman. It releases from Sojourn Network on October 25, 2017.