Over the years I have returned periodically to the growing canon of research material focused on church growth and development. And while there seem to be as many opinions on the subject as there are authors, there are some common themes and criteria I believe are helpful articulating essential markers of a healthy congregation. This week I have found myself wondering how our current Trinity@Home reality measures up to some of the criteria articulated helping us define and discern what it means to be a healthy and vibrant community. While there are many communities struggling mightily to find a way to both worship and be of service in their communities, I continue to be so grateful for the medium and avenues we continue to explore and find together.
Take a look at the criteria below and see what you think when compared to who and how we are living and growing into together at Trinity-even amidst this sustained season of living much of our lives safely distanced.
A healthy community of faith:
- worships intentionally and often;
- knows itself and moves forward based on vision;
- articulates it core values, using them to discern next steps;
- invites and incorporates new members with intention and generosity;
- creates disciples meeting people where they are and offering next steps;
- lives as stewards of time, spiritual gifts, talents, and money;
- empowers individuals to live authentic, connected lives;
- cares for its own in different ways;
- reaches beyond its doors;
- fosters a learning culture for adults, youth, and children;
- communicates increasingly better;
- manages conflict intentionally and thoughtfully;
- and understands the need to be connected to the greater church.
I believe these are not only accurate and good reminders, but, fortunately, are also descriptive of much of our ministry at Trinity- even today amidst the challenges of COVID- 19. As I look back on the past week I am filled with gratitude for the ways we are staying connected including:
- A handful of Trinity members came together to pack and deliver 3rd Thursday Community Lunch for Toledo Streets vendors
- I delivered a $1,000 check from Trinity to Toledo School for the Arts to help sponsor the purchase of a student designed and created sculpture called “Unity”- which will be installed later in the year
- We welcomed local artist Christopher Jones as he began his art installation as part of Toledo’s annual Momentum Festival
- Mobile Meals Monthly Delivery completed again by Trinity staff
- Trinity hosted an ice cream party at Renaissance Senior Apartments across the street for our beloved neighbors
- Holt Roofing continued work on the flat roof replacement in our ongoing work to mitigate leaking from deferred maintenance
- Vestry members continued to offer and host online Homecoming Gatherings to deepen our connections
There is absolutely no shortage of love and activity and opportunities for us to serve and make a difference in our community and in our neighborhood.
We will always be called toward deeper expressions of these essential criteria, but during a time when I know we can feel discouraged and lonely and missing the way we want to come and be together in body, mind and spirit, I am so grateful to see examples of God’s incarnate presence inspiring our common life every day.
Once again I end my week in the same way I find myself doing nearly every week, even now, giving thanks to God for each of you, praying for those who have yet to know they are loved, and asking that God will grant us many years of faithful service and ministry together.
And may you never forget that you are loved,