If Change is a Sign of Life...
Emerson and me, 2020
Dear Trinity Church,
I returned full-time about a month ago — February 8 to be exact. And if you were to ask me to summarize how it’s been going and what’s ahead, I would say that one word captures it all:
There’s so much that’s changing, both in how our church continues to modify our practices and gatherings month after month, but also in how our staff is re-organizing our roles.
First, the church. We are brainstorming as a team and wondering church-wide: what did we learn from 2020 in how we gathered? What gave life? What was hard? What do we want to continue? And so we’re continuing to collect responses and discuss the future together as we walk toward it. Not least in the equation is WBBC and their plans to start gathering in the building sometime soon. In sum, we are in the midst of change, and we are headed toward more change!
One of the books that has made a huge impact on me — and actually dove-tailed with a decision that related to my coming to Trinity back in 2018 — is called Immunity to Change. It’s a book that diagnoses how it is that we say we want change but we also prevent change from happening. It’s fascinating: we’ve got one foot on the gas and the other on the brake. We are actually masters at keeping ourselves from change. But one thing I am learning in life, and in pastoral ministry, is that the church is a living organism. We are the Body of Christ. Did you know your body is always changing? The old is constantly dying, the new is constantly coming into existence. You are living proof that change is a reality and change actually is a sign of LIFE.
There are two responses that we can have to change. The first is anxiety. Ah! What’s going to happen to my favorite thing? My routine, my structure, my _______? The second response is acceptance and growth. And in order for growth to take place, we need to be adaptable and flexible. I recently filmed a training for our team that counts tithes, and I had to preface it with, “Here’s how this looks right now, but it may change in a few months’ time!” We bend or we break when change comes; we keep growing together or we give up.
The second area of change I’m seeing is in the staff. In short, we are all trying to move toward our “sweet spot” of deep gladness meeting the needs around us (Frederick Buechner anyone?)
This Lent, Matt is recovering his being a pastorby shifting his time to spiritual direction while bringing in different voices to preach and teach. And when he’s not busy listening to everyone so deeply, he is strategizing the next creative move for our church in community!
Julia Barger has constantly re-invented her role this past year as Godly Play got stripped of its routine. In the Autumn, she was the full-time director of Side By Side Camp, which was a missional endeavor to meet the educational needs of single-parent families in our neighborhood. Most recently, she has been experimenting with Godly Play lessons during the sermon time (we usually have a full hour dedicated to Sunday school after the service). She’s been spending more time ministering to families as a whole instead of just children on Sundays.
This summer, Julie Canlis is planning to take some time away to assess how she wants to best contribute to the shaping of worship, church year, and liturgy at Trinity. Her position as worship director has always been interim as we sought for a longer-term position. As you have experienced, she is a brilliant teacher who is helping all of us continually inhabit the church year and the liturgy in ways that help us wake up and come alive. We’re brainstorming and working on creative ways for this to keep happening.
McAlister continues to walk with our youth in many ways — through discipleship groups, through outdoor events, through serving at the Lighthouse, and more. She has had nothing but constant change in her role with the youth, and we commend her for her dedication in being present each season.
And finally, with me. When Julie told our staff a few months ago that she was beginning to think about transitioning out of the week-to-week worship planning and facilitation, I started to feel a tug toward it. (Side note: Many of you probably don't know, but I have been leading worship since I was 14 years old -- that's 15 years! Music is a deep part of me, and I've led worship at every church I've attended. When I came to Trinity, I intentionally took some time to lay low in terms of music as I was learning everything else.) So I felt this tug toward the joy of leading worship, which has always been part of my story. But I knew that if I was to take that on, I would need help with the growing load of administration. So we are now actively searching for an administrative assistant for 5-10 hours to help me with ministry teams support, finances, and other areas of administration. Please reach out to me (email@example.com) if you’re interested in applying.
I mentioned that this person would be helping me with supporting our growing number of ministry teams. Well, that is another area of change that’s happening. We are moving from a culture of volunteers “helping out” to each person at Trinity using their gifts to be the Body of Christ. The church is not made up of staff. The church is made up of YOU! And our job as a staff is to support and nurture you as we all grow up into Him who is the Head.
We want everybody who's been at Trinity for more than 6 months to participate in the life of our church by being on a team. If that's you, then please take 30 seconds and fill this out!
I want to leave you with this encouragement: that if change really is a sign of life, then we are surely ALIVE! And we ought to keep praying with one another for moldable hearts, moldable plans, and a solid trust in the One who keeps leading us and showing the way.
P.S. - We are having an Easter Service and Feast on April 4th at 10am. Get ready to SING outside on a spacious property! We can't wait. Details TBA. But we need a team to help us put this together. If you’re interested, please click here and select the box called “Other” and write “Easter Feast.”