On January 31, 2016, our church gathered to celebrate the culmination of the work by the Vision 2020 team. We collectively recognized that this was both an end and a beginning. It was the end of the work done by a smaller team from the congregation, and the beginning of our collective steps into our future. We’re offering a glimpse into the working processes, strategies and tools used by the Vision 2020 team over it’s 12 months of work. For data oriented folks, this will hopefully offer some additional context. We’ll also offer updates about how the leaders of our congregation have already started living into this bright and hopeful vision for Trinity.
In January of 2015, a core team of Trinity volunteers began meeting at least monthly to discuss ideas and thoughts of how Trinity United Methodist Church (TUMC) might look in the year 2020.
Process Steps and Resource Materials:
The team used a variety of resources to form 2020 Vision ideas. Each team member designated two advisors to expand the core team. As conversations turned and evolved, these individuals were used as sounding boards and for input during the process. Demographic data of Trinity’s surrounding area was reviewed as well as membership data. Thomas Bandy’s book Worship Ways was used to decode the type of church Trinity is today and what attracts individuals to TUMC.
While there was consensus that Trinity’s worship style was educational and to some degree missional-connection, there was no consensus about the style and approach of the overall church (Appendix A).
A professional consultant was engaged a single time to further discuss church types and data about Trinity and the Denver area. The ability to articulate the style of worship led the team to believe that worship was an area of stability as is Music and Arts and to some degree education on Sundays. As the S.W.O.T. analysis deepened, other strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats emerged (Appendix B).
Some themes emerged including the key finding that focusing on creating church work will lead to greater engagement at the individual level.
The review of demographic and membership data revealed trends. Nearly half of new TUMC members during 2012–2014 were not Methodists. While Denver is poised to gain over 3,000 housing units in the next years, it was estimated that focusing on recruiting Methodists would yield between 40 and 60 new members. To learn the spiritual offerings of other faiths and churches, at least eight other worship services were attended by team members. For the majority of these places of worship, each service attracted fewer than 200 people. Each offering did yield new ideas that could be used by Trinity (Appendix C).
Trinity’s mission statement was reviewed, discussed and accepted without modification. During these discussions, a lack of core beliefs/operating principles, or overall vision, was uncovered. Fifty different statements were generated, considered and distilled into the following five core beliefs that may comprise a vision for Trinity and a graphic (Appendix D) for communication:
- We believe God calls us, through the example of Jesus, to bless and serve our communities
- We believe faith is strengthened through intentional study, questioning, and participation
- We believe worship connects us to God through music, prayer, and teaching
- We honor God’s grace in our past and we rely on grace as we nurture future generations
- We believe Christian discipleship is a dynamic invitation to all people shaped by the Bible, tradition, experience, and reason
Focus groups were then held with Trinity members to better define what church work or opportunities for education and serving could be refined and adjusted. (Appendix E).
The team’s coalesced findings and process were compiled (Appendix F).
- Remaining an authentic church remains a priority yet extending to non-Methodists may foster a greater number of members and new engagement. “We’re open to everyone, but we may not be a good fit for everyone.”
- Engaging people in short bursts of church work will create disciples
- Focusing on children and engaging parents creates vibrancy multiple days a week
Suggestions from Trinity members and staff at Church Council on January 30: Appendix G