by James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor
Trinity Church has been selected by the Virginia Conference and the Arlington District to participate in a program called Shift. Shift is about enabling a very good church to become a great church. We’ve agreed to engage this program over the next 13 months. Every mission and ministry area will be asked to make certain changes, shifts, in the ways we’ve been doing things. There are actually a series of five shifts that when combined together will shift the culture of our church – yielding vitality and fruitfulness. These five shifts are: from Fellowship to Hospitality; from Worship as an event to Worship as a lifestyle; from a focus on Membership to a focus on Discipleship; from an attitude of Serve Us to one of Serve Others; and from church finances driven by a Survival Mentality to one of Generosity.
Our first Shift will be from Fellowship to Hospitality. Here are a few things to help us rethink how we do Hospitality:
- Between 60% and 80% of people who visit a church were personally invited.
- People who visit a church decide within the first 10 minutes whether or not they’ll return. This is long before the pastor preaches or the music begins.
- People are more engaged in the life of the church if their friends and associates are also engaged.
- Follow-up with first time guests is a key factor in maintaining the relationship.
- The driving force in the decision to return is the personal connection of the members of the congregation and not the greeters or the pastors.
While hospitality in our modern culture takes the form of fellowship where we welcome friends to our table, in the biblical world hospitality centered around how the stranger is welcomed. The driving force behind the building of hospitality relationships is how we express God’s unmerited love, grace. It is a grace that flows from the center of our experience of God’s grace that extends to all people.
We love because we have been loved. We welcome others because we have been welcomed. We invite others to discover this grace because of what we’ve learned about the transforming power of God’s love. Over the next year every mission & ministry area of Trinity Church will Shift toward becoming a more grace-filled, hospitable, worshipful, discipleship serving others with radically generous hearts.