June 3, 2021
Saints of Trinity,
It was about five years ago that I took an eight-week sabbatical. The focus was on church health. It was a time of research, reading, reflection, visiting websites, talking with pastors, and even parishioners from various churches – not all United Methodist – all while examining multiple business models that focused on excellence and organizational health. The paper that came out of that was framed by the Ten Essentials many of us grew up with in Boy Scouts. The Ten Essentials were absolutes when going hiking in the backcountry. They included everything you needed to find your way, and potentially survive. Therefore, the paper I wrote was called “The Ten Essentials of Church Health and Wholeness.” So now as we move toward reopening, I thought it important that you know where I stand on some of these things. In other words, what are the key ingredients that I feel need to be in place for this Body of Christ to be whole and healthy, growing and moving ahead?
Over these next two weeks, I’ll be exploring each one of them. I’ve combined two so it’s no longer ten, but nine, essentials. My apologies to the Boy Scouts, but it needed to be done to make this doable. This Sunday I’ll be exploring five of the nine. Then the following Sunday we’ll take a look at the final four. It will be on that Sunday, June 13th, that we’ll also dedicate the new altar and pulpit. For now, however, let me give you a small teaser regarding what’s coming.
Let me say first that these nine elements have been named by a whole lot of folks who know a whole lot more than I do about research, wholeness, even health. As I look at the lists developed by others, I’m thankful that most are consistent with what I found. The nine, when placed together, cross pretty much all denominational lines. They are consistent with what I find in the gospels, and what I find in Paul’s letters regarding a church. They are biblically based, and theologically sound. I know this all sounds a bit too confident, but the multiple research projects confirmed each of these.
So, as a teaser, here’s the list, and as you read it, think about us, Trinity United Methodist Church, and how we’re doing in each of these areas. COVID-19 has made it tougher, but as we come out of this time, let’s see if we might explore these in ways that allow us to take them on. Again, here’s the list:
1. A firm belief in God whose power can and will transform lives.
2. A simple, all-encompassing statement of mission & vision statement that propels the church toward and into the future.
3. Active, engaging, uplifting, and consistently excellent worship.
4. A model that allows for step-by-step growth in discipleship.
5. Multiple opportunities for the building of loving and caring relationships.
6. Christ-centered leadership.
7. Consistent focus on and involvement in mission and outreach that engages the world beyond the doors.
8. A simple, understandable, accessible administrative structure.
9. Biblically-based opportunities for stewardship and giving
So, as you read through the list, how are we doing? Do we have all of these in place, or might there be a few that need a bit more attention? I’ve yet to find a church that does all of them equally well. The initial point of all of this is to see where we are right now, today. A model like this can help us examine ourselves as a church.
Among the things I’ve found in this past year with you is a consistency of wanting to be the best we can be. I see it in all you do. It is what makes being here a joy. We’ve come through some really challenging times, but the future is bright as we continue to work together toward being the Body of Christ God needs us to be.
With deep appreciation for you!
Some Concerns that we have:
- For those who continue to go through physical struggles, those who are dealing with cancer, or other health situations. Prayers for those who are emotionally feeling lost and alone.
- For all those who are ill from the Covid-19 virus; for those families who have lost loved ones to the virus; for all the first responders/essential workers; and for those who haven’t been vaccinated yet.
- For peace in our country.
- For Katherine Parker, missionary to Nepal.