Date with Destiny

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

January through December of 2018, Trinity has a date with destiny. The members of Trinity Church will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to influence the desires and direction of the church for the next 10 -20 years. Your staff and church leaders invite you to join us and others from the District Next Level Innovation Team as we begin living into our NLI goals which will assist our discovering the joy and power of purpose driven mission and ministry. During the first quarter of 2018 you’ll be invited to join one of our four NLI teams. Check out the four teams below. Which one is calling your name? Let us know.

Vision for Trinity

  • What is our church’s vision? Join the Vision team to help Trinity create and organize around our vision.
  • This team will read Canoeing the Mountains, by Tod Bolinger.
  • Team Vision will inspire and orient the other three teams to fulfill Trinity vision.

Abundance through Generosity

  • Join Team A & G that’s  created around gifts and skills to make our vision possible.
  • Team A & G will create a Capital Campaign team engaging people of all ages to go deeper into service and commitment.
  • Team A & G will coordinate with the Stewardship team helping Trinity develop a deeper spiritual understanding of a life of generosity.

Hospitality for the Next Generation

  • Blessed by diversity, join Trinity’s Hospitality team to reach the people of Northern VA.
  • Team Hospitality needs persons who have the gift of hospitality, networking, and connection-building.
  • This team will read together: Beyond the First Visit, by Farr and Kotan.
  • Organize a hospitality training even for all the people of Trinity.
  • Team Hospitality will address our need for user-friendly signage.

Discipleship

  • Join Team Discipleship to help Trinity member gain a deeper relationship with Christ.
  • The team will develop a Sermon Series for Lent of 2018.
  • Join a small group created by Discipleship team for studying scripture, creating fellowship time together, eating and praying together.
  • Team Discipleship will live like Christ in the world.

Between 50 and 60 years ago Trinity’s faithful and visionary leadership influenced the then present and future needs of the people of McLean by building a new sanctuary. In order for us to be faithful in our time and place you and I need to improve our sanctuary’s physical appearance, and expand and enhance our ministry and outreach programs.

I deeply believe that you and I are being challenged and charged by God to continue Trinity’s long-standing tradition of responding to God’s call to contemporary vision and mission. God is definitely reaching more and more souls in McLean by growing Trinity Church, spiritually and physically. The enhancements and additions to our present church will improve and make more effective Trinity’s local and global outreach; build upon our valued diversity in Christ’s body; sustain and strengthen us through the life of prayer; encourage us to become more faithful stewards of God’s resources; and educate and equip us for the ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ through social justice.

Please join me, Eileen, Keith, Jerry and Catherine, and all Trinity’s leadership and members, and the terrific leaders of our NLI teams for our date with destiny over the next twelve months. Together, with God, we’ve got lots of wonderful work to do.

 

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When Did Evangelism Become a Four-Letter Word?

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

What would happen if I were to stand in front of the congregation and ask for volunteers to form an evangelism committee? Here’s my guess: crickets. Why is that? I think it’s because of the actions of the church (and by that I mean the greater protestant church, not specifically Trinity or even the United Methodist church). What we Christians have done to the concept of evangelism equates to a self-inflicted wound. We are now paying the price for it.

That price has come in the form of lack of attendance and worse, a sense of apathy toward the church. Average attendance is about once a month. There is no longer a sense of loyalty to church. That is not how it has been for generations and generations. The greater church just assumed that the traditional families of the past would hand down that same sense of loyalty to their children. This is when the wheels started to come off the church bus. We must continue to try to reach what Rev. Olu Brown calls the “loyalty” generation, while also reaching out to what he calls the “relational” generation.

Who are the people of this relational generation? They are younger; some grew up going to church while others never attended in their formative years. Brown describes them as a “creative group, craving relationships that are not formed or nurtured primarily through traditional or outdated institutions.” Ouch. I hate thinking of my beloved United Methodist tradition as an outdated institution. But, this is in fact how it is perceived by a large group of people. Brown goes on to say that as this relational generation came into being, “many denominations and local churches failed to maintain a pulse on the current developing beneath the flow of the loyalty generation.”

Here is the good news: It’s not too late. This is where the new evangelism comes into play. We must no longer open our doors and think that’s enough. Your Trinity leaders are working to reach those outside our sanctuary. That might mean having small groups somewhere in Tysons or hosting community events on our massive yard outside the Fellowship Building. The modern face of evangelism looks like you, too. It’s living out Jesus’ call to serve the least and the last, and to love all. Evangelism is sharing this Good News by being kind and compassionate in our interactions. After all, Jesus’ ministry was comprised of both words and deeds.

I invite you to join with us as we work to reach and welcome all to Trinity Church in 2018. I’ll see you in church!

 

Fruitful 2018 Resolutions

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

According to a study by IQuanti, based on Google searches, the top resolutions of 2017 were (in order of popularity): to get healthy, to get organized, to live life to the fullest, to learn new hobbies, spend less and save, to travel, and to read more. This list is vastly different from those made at the turn of twentieth century. The emphasis then was on virtue rather than performance or self-actualization. For example, people strived for inner peace, prudence in finances, patience for family and friends, forgiveness, and thoughtful speech and action.

There was a definite shift from emphasizing inner values like virtue and character to those that seek to express outer personal traits like achievement and health. In Quiet: The Power of Introverts the author, Susan Cain, observes a shift in characterization of an American ideal person. “Before the industrial revolution,” she writes, “American self-help books extolled character.” But books like How to Win Friends and Influence People placed personality above all. Her theory is that extroverts were placed above introverts in conscience of mainstream culture. Although I do not ascribe to all of her arguments (because both extroverts and introverts can develop deep character), I see that inner qualities like contemplation, silence, patience and long-suffering seemed to be absent in everyday discussion.

I want to urge parents to consider starting the new year with goals in deepening character and virtue. Also, to help foster an environment in the home to involve your children in developing their inner life as important ideals to pursue for 2018. I, as a partner in spiritual education of your children, will strive to bring awareness to topic at hand. As the apostle Paul reminded the church in Galatia, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Happy New Year!

 

The Lord Is Come

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

All of us are familiar with Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol. I read it every year. It vividly portrays Scrooge’s encounter with the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future. His experiences with the three spirits changed him.

Think with me today about the spirit of Christmas future. Both Advent and Christmas are about a new world – a transformation of our earth. It is about the end of warfare and violence, injustice and oppression. It is about our earth’s transformation, not devastation. It is about a new world that will know only justice and peace.

How will this transformation come about? Despite the passing of 2,000 years it is still not accomplished. The Christmas stories of Matthew and Luke don’t present you and me with a supernatural rescuing of the earth. The Christmas stories are not about a spectacular set of miracles that happened in the distant past that we are to believe in for the sake of going to heaven. The Christmas stories are about God’s passion, God’s dream, for a transformed earth and all life upon it.

The Christmas stories invite us to transform the world with God, because we can’t do it without God. Every year we are reminded that we are the people who claim to have seen the star and heard the angels sing. We are the people who are called to participate in the new birth and the new world by proclaiming these stories.

The struggle of God’s vision for the world continues. The birth narratives are not a pipe dream, but our proclaiming that what we see in Jesus is the way to a different kind of life and a different future. God doesn’t change you and me without our participation, and God won’t change the world without our participation.

We give the last word to one of the carols of Christmas. It combines the themes of Advent and Christmas in a remarkable way: Joy to the world. Dream with me of a world where Jesus is Lord. Dream of every heart preparing room for him. Then let us sing, Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let every heart prepare Him room, and let heaven and nature sing.


A THANK YOU

This fall the people of Trinity honored Molly and me with a combined celebration of our twenty years of marriage and our twenty years of serving the people of Trinity Church. We were touched by your kind words and your generous love gift. Molly and I have lived in your parsonage at Trinity longer than either of us has lived in a house growing up. We share a rich tapestry of memories that we’ll cherish forever. Thank you! And, we look forward to being your parsonage family in 2018. Love to you all, Jim & Molly

 

God’s Dreams for You

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Does God have dreams? I invite you to look at the story of Jacob’s Ladder found in Genesis. It’s a great story about how God reached Jacob through a wonderful dream. In it, God lets Jacob know that there were great things ahead for Jacob: he would be given the blessing of offspring and land, just as his father Isaac had been promised, and his father’s father Abraham before him. But that’s not all; God promised to be with Jacob through it all.

God never promised Jacob his life would be easy, but God did promise that Jacob would never be left alone. Do you ever think about God’s dream for your life? Just like Jacob, God has big dreams for you. The Bible is filled with scripture that points to this message. One of my favorites comes from Jeremiah 29:11. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Not only does God have great dreams for us, God also has great dreams for Trinity Church. How do we figure out those dreams? We start by praying. We pray for guidance and for God to lead us to live out God’s will. It won’t always be easy, but we can take comfort and reassurance in knowing that God will never leave us. This is another reason that Trinity is taking part in the Next Level Innovation project. We believe God is calling us to reach more people outside the walls of our church—people who might never have come to church before.

As we enter this busy Christmas season, I hope that you’ll keep your church leaders and congregation in your prayers. Know that you are in our prayers. Just like the rest of the world, church is changing. This is not the same church many of us attended as children; it is not even the same church it was ten years ago! You are an important part of the future of Trinity. It’s my prayer that you will join us as we work to live out God’s dream.

 

Trip to the Museum of the Bible

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

On January 14, the preteen class and youth group (grades 5 – 12) will visit the new Museum of the Bible which opened in November. Their press release states:

The Museum of the Bible opens its doors to the public, unveiling the institution’s flagship, 430,000-square-foot museum building for the first time. …the innovative, global, educational institution boasts one of the largest privately-held collections of ancient biblical codices, scrolls and papyri along with thousands of other historic artifacts and exhibit items.

I’m so excited to take students and their parents because often we overlook the sacrifice and dedication that generations of scribes and believers have contributed to this important book.

I have studied the manuscript transmission process of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) more than that of the New Testament. Therefore, I can attest to the making of the Hebrew Bible with more details. Two facts I want to highlight: one, the invention of vocalization by the Masoretes and two, their meticulous procedure of copying texts. The Hebrew Bible was primarily written in Hebrew and some portions in Aramaic. Both being Semitic languages, they did not contain vocalization notes in their original forms. The Masoretes (Jewish scholars and scribes in 6th to 10th century CE) invented a new vocal notation system to standardize pronunciation and interpretation. Out of that movement, the Ben Asher family was noted for their precision and excellence. The present printed edition of the Hebrew Bible for scholars, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, is based on one of the manuscripts from the Ben Asher line. This family of scholars was so meticulous and pious, it had strict rules of copying. One of them is undergoing ritual washing after a scribe writes the letters ‘YWHW’ (the holy name of God). For example, in Deuteronomy 1 a scribe must undergo twenty-one ritual washings to finish the chapter! (I guess they didn’t have a copy and paste function!)

In our preteen class, we open the Bible and we read it as a group to come to an interpretation. We have open access to it because there have been generations of dedicated scholars, copyists, translators, and believers who gave sweat and tears in preserving and transmitting it for today’s generation. We are so fortunate to live close to this museum that is dedicated in presenting the Bible in its multiple facets.

 

Bridging God’s Word into Everyday Life

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

Why does Trinity Church exist? According to Matthew’s Gospel, the reason is made clear – we are to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20.

Based on the Great Commission, Trinity Church follows the stated purpose of the United Methodist Church, “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The mission of our congregation from our Next Level Innovation weekend is Bridging God’s Word into Everyday Life. I see this as a four-fold task.

First: we reach out to people and welcome them into Trinity Church. We have the missional challenge of connecting our church to the world around our facilities, and the communities where we work, play, shop, study, and worship. We have the missional challenge of connecting our church to all the hurts, doubts and questions of the people around us. Our mission is to find them, reach out to them, listen to them, accept them and share the gospel in word and deed.

Second: we relate to people and help them deepen their spiritual relationship with God. Trinity does this by providing opportunities for growing closer to God. Whether guests or long-time members, we all need God’s love in Christ. Through worship, prayer, study, honest sharing, and finding where God needs us to be in mission – we help each other discover that the Holy Spirit is not far off but a present reality among us. We need to encourage each other to give our lives to Christ, and to center our lives in a very real, living and present God.

Third: we nurture people in Christian lifestyle. Trinity Church helps people practice the disciplines of discipleship. Our church exists to serve not be served. We gather for worship not only for our own personal spiritual formation and growth, but also to prepare and equip ourselves for doing the work of love and be Christ’s disciples in our community and world. We are strengthened for ministry through worship, baptism, Communion, Bible study, prayer and all other means of grace.

Fourth: we support people in their ministry. As members of Trinity Church, we’re sent into our community and world to serve others in need and make our community and world more loving and just. We believe the Holy Spirit empowers and guides us. Where ever we go we can expect to meet Christ already at work. Our congregation exists, in part, to surround and support each other in her and his ministry. With the loving support of this kind of community we can continue to grow and reach others for Christ.

All this is the missional challenge of the church and Trinity Church. The only mission that counts is God’s mission. We need to view the world and Christ’s mission in a new light. We no longer look at the world for any gaps in mission so we can take God to where God isn’t now. Instead, let’s look at the world as God’s- a place where God’s love and care are already, and everywhere, at work. We don’t take mission outside Trinity’s walls – we go out to meet the mission already there.