We’re All Shifting

by James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor
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.


On the Road Again…

James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor
James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

by James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

The Virginia Conference lists 1,055 clergy under appointment full and part time, who serve the 1,205 churches throughout the state. On Wednesday, June 25, 185 clergy and their families will load all their personal belongings into a moving van and travel to their first or next pastoral appointment. Some will travel to large multi-staff church communities, others to rural congregations; all go in hopes of joining Christ in faithful ministry. Conference-wide, 24 of our clergy will try to adjust to being retired and will feel a bit strange when Sunday rolls around and they find out what life is like in the pews… again.

This year nearly one out of every six churches of the Virginia Conference (17%) will receive a different pastor. On Sunday, June 30, 14 new pastors to the Arlington District will arrive in their churches prepared to work at making disciples for Jesus Christ. Those churches will swell in attendance as active and inactive members turn out to check out the new pastor or associate pastor. Our District Superintendent is Cathy Abbott, who begins her second year of leadership of the Arlington clergy and laity.

Trinity’s former youth director, Chris Abel, will take a new appointment as associate of a satellite church in St. Louis, MO. Chris served Trinity well for 2 years, and now he moves on to the next station of his journey in ministry. We wish him all life’s good fortune and blessings on his new ministry.

Other joyous notes: we welcome Nick McMichael as our new Youth Leader. Nick is a 2nd year seminary student at Wesley Theological Seminary and has previous experience as a youth leader. Eileen Gilmer (starting year two) will be studying with other local pastors at Wesley in July, participating in the Course of Study Program. Ellen LaCroix is 2nd year in her seminary studies at Wesley and will be not only our intern in Mission and Ministry this summer but also the leader of Trinity Children’s Choir. They join me (starting year 18 as your pastor), Harriet (in year 9), Jerry (starting year 19 as our music director), Amy (starting year 5), Catherine and our lay leaders Jose and Leslie, and all the Trinity family as together we make disciples for Jesus Christ and help transform the world into a planet where peace and justice are the watchwords.