Church Planting

Enjoying God

We might think often of obeying God and knowing him and even trusting and loving him. But how often do we think of our relationship with God in terms of joy and happiness? What does it mean to “enjoy God”? If we are saved by him and belong to him and obey him, what difference does it make if we enjoy him? Our thoughts about God are critical to our faith and relationship with him, but what about our feelings toward him? Is it a modern self-help fascination to want to have happy feelings toward God—or is it a firm promise of the Scriptures and the goal of our union with Christ? 

This Sunday, we’ll start a new series in our gatherings and groups: Enjoying God.

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The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with this Q&A: What is the chief end of man? “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” 

Or as author John Piper has written: “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.” 

Enjoying God is one thing we can do here and now, regardless of circumstances, regardless of our future, that has an eternal impact on our own souls, and improves our lives on earth. Enjoying God is what we were made for. 

The point of enjoying God is not what we get from it—less sin, more strength, a better life, etc. The point of enjoying God is simply enjoying God—he is the source of true, lasting joy. We find joy when we find him. 

How Do We Enjoy God? 

Our joy in God increases as we come to know him as he is (his character, attributes, and ways) and enter his presence in prayer. When we do these two things, the result will be enjoying God in everyday life

The three important elements of this series are: 

(1) Knowing God’s Character & Attributes, 
(2) Cultivating a Prayerful Life, and (the result)
(3) Enjoying God in Everyday Life 

Enjoying God’s Character & Attributes

The majority of this sermon series and community group study is a sustained meditation on God’s character and attributes. Each week (after the introductory sermon), we’ll focus on an aspect of God’s character (an attribute) so that we enjoy him as he is. A **highly-tentative** schedule is: 

June 9: Enjoying God in Everyday Life (Pentecost Sunday)
June 16: Enjoying God the Trinity (Trinity Sunday) 
June 23: Enjoying God Most Beautiful
June 30: Enjoying God Most Loving 

July 7: Enjoying God Most Merciful
July 14: Enjoying God Most Just
July 21: Enjoying God Most Faithful
July 28: Enjoying God Most Powerful 

Aug 4: Enjoying God Most Wise
Aug 11: Enjoying God through Suffering

***

If you are a Trinity member: This summer is a great opportunity to grow in your knowledge, experience, and enjoyment of God! Consider a commitment to join us for all ten weeks (in the gathering or, if you’re serving in Trinity Kids or traveling, by following the sermon page as well).

If you are considering a visit to Trinity: This is a great time to visit us! We would love to have you. If you have any questions, would like to talk with a pastor or leader, or want to let us know ahead of time that you’ll be visiting… you can contact us here.

See you Sunday!
JSL

Trinity Launch in Pictures!

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Thank You!

A big, heartfelt Thank You to everyone who worshipped with us, prayed for us, encouraged us, and supported us financially this past weekend! We had a beautiful and powerful public launch gathering.

We had 121 people gather with us for this big Sunday! (80 in our worship gathering and 41 in Trinity Kids—yes, that's a lot of children!)

There was a real Spirit of joy and celebration among us, and we know that this is just the beginning. We were blessed to minister to many non-church-attending neighbors, coworkers, and friends, and also welcomed many friends and family members who have supported us along the way. We are not done church planting, but this is a big step towards becoming a healthy, self-sustaining local congregation (that plants other churches). The best is yet to come.

What a Sunday! Enjoy the pictures!

Jeremy & Co.

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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!

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. 

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! 

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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

Does Columbia Need Another Church?

The Columbia area is home to more than one hundred local churches. Do we really need another one?

At Trinity, we believe that it takes a large, diverse network of faithful churches to reach and serve an entire area. There are a few specific reasons why we feel Columbia needs not just one more church but dozens of new churches.

Fulfilling the Great Commission

When his earthly ministry was completed, Jesus called his disciples—all of his followers—to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:20). To baptize means to immerse people in the faith of a local church community. When someone becomes a believer through a local church body, he or she is far more likely to grow as a true disciple of Christ.

Reaching the Unchurched

Whereas existing congregations have excellent resources to provide spiritual care, training, and service opportunities for mature and maturing believers, brand new churches tend to be more effective in reaching the unchurched. Although it is not always the case, churches are most fruitful in reaching unchurched people during their first ten to twenty years. Typically, church plants and young churches set aside significant time and funds for reaching unchurched people, while existing churches allocate more time and money to member care and facilities. Mission scholar C. Peter Wagner once wrote, “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.”

Reaching the Next Generation

New churches also tend to be the most fruitful in reaching young adults. Similarly, new residents in a city are more likely to attend a new or young church than to join an existing one. Fewer long-standing traditions mean young adults and new residents can engage deeply and take service and leadership roles more quickly.

Population Growth

Columbia was recently reported to be the fastest-growing city in Missouri (Columbia Missourian, March 25, 2017). Columbia averages one church for every 800 new residents. Over the last six years, Columbia’s population has grown by 14,000 residents, meaning we would also need about 18 new churches planted during that time. Several new churches have started, but many more are needed!

At Columbia's current rate of growth, 
we need more than 20 new churches every decade
just to keep up with population growth.

City Renewal

Church plants are good for existing churches, too. New churches serve the community of churches by increasing the total number of church-attending people in a city, by equipping servant-leaders and releasing them into the marketplace, and by creating innovative and effective new forms of ministry that other churches can adopt. In many cases, new churches will build a relationship and baptize a new believer, then the new believer will join a different, existing congregation, and the whole city benefits from both churches’ involvement.    

As Tim Keller, a pastor in New York City, writes: “A vigorous and continuous approach to church planting is the only way to guarantee an increase in the number of believers, and is one of the best ways to renew the whole body of Christ."

 

We believe church planting is the most effective and fruitful way to invest our lives in the city of Columbia. Church planting—when done slowly and intentionally through strategic networking, winsome evangelism, and intentional discipleship—is God’s primary means for spiritual renewal.

 

How Trinity Church Came to Be

Trinity Community Church officially began with a gathering of about ten adults in our home in June 2017. But the Lord had been working for months—actually, years—to bring about this new church. What’s our story?

At Home in Missouri

Jessie and I (Jeremy) are native Missourians and first met here in Columbia in 2003. We were involved with Campus Crusade, studied journalism (her) and microbiology (me) at Mizzou, and graduated in 2006. We were also married in 2006 and, living in our tiny South Columbia apartment, tried to discern what was next.

From 2007 to 2010, we helped start Karis Community Church in downtown Columbia; for the first time, we saw a local church actively involved in evangelism and discipleship. We loved it! After nearly four years serving as volunteer leaders, we felt the Lord calling us to Louisville, Kentucky so I could take an internship with Sojourn Community Church and finish my graduate theological degree at Southern Seminary.

Seven Years in Louisville

But God had big plans for us in Louisville as well: We ended up investing seven years in Sojourn. I became an executive pastor and then a community and counseling pastor during a season of incredible fruitfulness at the church—Sojourn more than tripled in membership, leaders, and even worship gatherings during our seven years there. It was a beautiful season of growth, training, and service.

Our family, meanwhile, was growing as well—to three boys (three boys!) and our first house. We built lifelong friendships, enjoyed leading several community groups in our home, and saw God deepen our faith in him through many great days and many trials, through much joy and much pain.

But in the early months of 2016, though, we began to sense that the Lord was inviting us to a new season of life. We felt that it was time for a “coming home” to our truest gifts and calling, but also the time to come home geographically. We had the strong sense it was time to head back to the state where we grew up, where we are known, and where we could plant ourselves for the second half of our lives.

In the Fall of 2016, with the support, prayer and counsel of close friends and mentors, we settled on returning to Columbia to plant a church. We received immediate support from Sojourn’s pastors and members, and a few our friends have committed to join our mission as well—Mark & Allison Wopata, Lindsey Poenie, Garrett & Nicole Pearson, and Paul & Betsy Arthur have all moved to lead this effort with us. We spent about eight months transitioning out of my role, laying the foundation for the new church, and taking a sabbatical. Around May 1st of this year, we moved into our new home in southwest Columbia.

Returning Home

Upon arriving in Columbia, we began to realize all the ways the Lord had prepared our family and our team to serve and be fruitful here. Some old friends from Kansas City relocated here for work and joined us right away. We met a retired minister who said he’d been praying for a church planter to move into our part of town. Numerous churches and ministries have warmly welcomed us, affirming the need for another Christ centered congregation serving and reaching the unchurched in Columbia.

Our hope has been to plant our family and our team in neighborhoods where we can build and maintain a faithful presence over decades. We have taken jobs in the community where we can cultivate relationships with the unchurched. We have bought houses, enrolled in public schools, and begun to get to know our neighbors. We have opened our homes to young professionals, busy families, grad students, and retired folks.

Our first gathering took place in our home on Sunday, June 11thon the day traditionally celebrated by the liturgical churches as Trinity Sunday. (We couldn't have planned that any better!)

The Lord Before Us

We have also been incredibly blessed by families, churches, and organizations outside the city. We are currently receiving funding from Sojourn Church (Louisville, KY), Sojourn Network (Louisville, KY), Redeemer Fellowship (Kansas City, MO), Antioch Bible Church (North Kansas City, MO), Karis Church (Columbia, MO), Scarlet City Church (Columbus, OH), Sojourn Church (Beaumont, TX) and Fellowship Associates (Little Rock, AR).

Our desire is not to take the city by storm. We aren’t trying to be the only or the best or the coolest church in town. I often think of Thomas Merton’s statement: God was at work before we got here and will be at work long after we’re gone.

Yet we are confident that the Lord is going before us, making a way for this new work. As he has done for centuries before us, he is gathering a people for himself, for his glory and for the good of his people. Whether we are 15 people or 150, we hope that Trinity Church embodies grace and peace, loves its neighbors, and promotes renewal across the community.

We are joyfully diving into his work here, and we would love to have you or your friends—anyone who doesn’t have a church home in central Missouri—to join us in this incredible adventure!

Jeremy