Month: August 2016

3 Reasons Why You Should Join a Small Group

If you’ve been at Trinity for any length of time, you’ve probably heard us make these two statements:

We grow better together.”

Or

Circles are better than rows.” 

We say this often because we believe it. We believe that every person grows best in the context of relationships, and this is why we encourage every person who attends Trinity to join a group.

You may be reading this and you are not connected to a group. I want to share with you three reasons why you should consider joining a small group at Trinity:

  1. Groups allow you to connect with people relationally.

Corporate worship is great and we believe you should be a part of it every Sunday, but there is one major thing that corporate worship does not do well. It does not do a good job of connecting you with people so that you can experience strong relationships. Sunday morning worship services are not designed for you to build strong relationships.

Groups are designed with relationships in mind.

We are naturally built for relationships. It is not God’s design that you “do life” alone. He intends for you to do life together with other people. Since the beginning, God’s design is for us to have relationships that strengthen and sharpen us.

Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for man to be alone.”

I received the following text recently from a friend of mine who joined our group 6 months ago.  “I can’t tell you how happy we are to have found a great Christian family like you guys. It’s not easy to find these relationships in the Navy. I feel that we are now raising our kids with purpose, and changing our lives through being better followers of Christ because of the outreach here in the community.”

That kind of relationship would not have happened if this family had not stepped out and joined a group.

If you want deep relationships, you should join a group.

  1. Groups are the avenue for spiritual growth.

We believe that group life is the best place to grow deeper in your faith.

I am sure that you have said something like this at some point in your life, “I want to be a better husband, a better father, a better citizen, or a better employee.”

Groups connect you with people who want the same things for their lives. It provides you with the support and accountability needed for you to grow in your faith which will result in you becoming better in all of these areas.

Support encourages change.  Groups provide the support needed for you to change and grow in your faith!

If you want to grow spiritually, you should join a group.

  1. Groups help you experience a sense of community.

Groups provide the best place for you to step in and meet the needs of those around you.  Groups help you discover the needs of your community, and give you a small group of people committed to meeting those needs.

As I reflect on the last year of our small group, I can point to needs and struggles of the members of our group.  It is beautiful to look back and reflect on how our group stepped in and met their needs. Our group has helped a wife whose husband was deployed for 10 months, walked with a family through a miscarriage, assisted a family as they relocated and moved to a new home, supported a family as they began to foster children, and much more! In every situation, our group responded and specifically met the needs of our members.

If I have a problem, you’d better believe our group will be there to walk with me through the problem.

Groups provide community.

If you want to experience community, you should join a group.

Taking the Next Step

If you are interested in joining a group, let me encourage you to RSVP for our GroupLink event. We will be hosting a GroupLink event in Oakleaf for those who attend our Oakleaf location on Monday, August 29.

Our Hammond location will be hosting GroupLink on Wednesday, August 31, for all families who attend our Hammond location.

We hope you will take the next step of joining a group and experience the joy of strong relationships, a growing faith, and a sense of community.

Sign Up for GroupLink here.

How to Have Connection in Life

One of the last things I do when we come off vacation and prepare for back to school and the fall at Trinity is to clean my offices at the church and the house and try to organize them to make study and work more enjoyable. That often means going through things that have accumulated and are just sitting around to determine whether to keep, discard, or store them away somewhere. We have accumulated quite a number of charging cables and bricks (the part that plugs into the wall) and we even sometimes disagree on who the bricks and chargers actually belong to. I decided to only keep charger cables that work, so I sat at my desk and plugged everyone into a phone or iPad. If they charged instantly they stayed in the inventory, and if they were defective, I threw them out. There were a couple of cords that were tricky; one would work if you jiggled it slightly and set it just right (I threw it out) and another charged incredibly fast, but it got so hot that I burned my fingers (I gave that to Jacob). I was reminded of an important life and spiritual lesson:  a good connection really matters.

A healthy church is a disciple-making factory, which we are on mission to become. We are trying to reach people and develop them into committed followers of Christ. The church, not as an institution but as a community of believers, is designed by God to facilitate the process of helping people to get connected and to grow spiritually. Here is what that looks like.

Connected Through Worship – Fundamentally, we believe that God designed the world, and only when you are connected to Him through Jesus Christ will you experience life the way that God designed it. Think about your vehicle; it was designed to run on unleaded gas or electricity. If you choose to put something else into the vehicle as a source of fuel, like orange juice, the reality is that you will experience brokenness. God designed the world with laws that are written into the moral code of the universe. If you break those laws you will experience the disorientation, isolation, and exhaustion that come from not being right with God. Until you are right with God through Jesus Christ, you will experience alienation in God’s world.

Connected Through Groups – Nothing matters more than your relationships; they matter more than money, power, and accomplishments. Being part of a church community means that you are deeply invested into relationships that are designed to help us to move toward spiritual maturity. John Wesley said, “There is nothing more unchristian than a solitary Christian. Building community is hard work and requires a selfless, sacrificial approach to life. That is what you find modeled for us in the unique relationship that is found in the Trinity, where each person of the Godhead defers to one another.”

Connected Through Service – God has made each of us uniquely and has imparted to us gifts that we can use to serve the body of Christ. We are challenged to identify our gifts, cultivate them, and use them in acts of ministry. It is through the collective use of our spiritual gifts in the body of Christ that we find our purpose in life and we make Christ known in the world. There are both serving gifts and speaking gifts that allow us to make a verbal and visual demonstration of Christ.

Connected Through Outreach – We are people on mission to make God’s redemption known in the world. The more unified as a church and the more connected to mission we are, the greater the impact we will make for God on the world. There is nothing more rewarding than being used of God to help people get connected to Him. There is a community of people that are disconnected from God and from church life and we are called of God to use our influence, service, and testimony to help draw people into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

There is nothing more frustrating than a bad connection, whether it is with a charging cable or cell service. We have a tendency not to tolerate connections that do not work for us in our personal life. We need to be determined to make sure that our connection with God and with the church community is working and it is enabling us to experience the life that God has for us through Jesus Christ!

Back to School

Today I am thinking of the students who are stepping foot into a brand new building without a single familiar face and the ones who are finally reuniting with their friends after summer! I am thinking about the novice, inexperienced, don’t-know-what-you’ve-gotten-yourself-into teacher and the veteran who has seen it all and wonders if she has another year in her. I am thinking about that mom who is holding the hand of her first child about to watch them walk off into kindergarten and the parent who just watched their baby drive off to start their senior year of high school. For every person, the first day of school means something different.

For the parent, back to school means back to routine. Those peaceful summer nights turn into youtubing 7th grade math concepts, wondering why it feels like you’re the one in middle school. Slow mornings become waking up early to pack healthy lunches with special notes handwritten on a napkin. Afternoons are spent waiting anxiously at carline to hear everything they have to say about their day (and if they’re in middle school, checking their snapchat to piece together any bits of information you can find.) But most importantly, finding yourself praying fervently that your child will be kind and brave.

For the student, it is a clean slate. A brand new start. A fresh set of supplies and an organized locker. The chance to make new friends and try out for the team! It means never ending homework that causes you to question if you will ever really need to know this stuff in real life. It is another year of cherished memories and learning more and more about yourself.

For the teacher, it is every little name tag carefully written and placed perfectly on individual desks. It is back to meetings,returning emails, making phone calls, entering grades and perfecting lesson plans. It is a whole new set of students who will make you wonder how you got talked into this gig. It is finding little notes left mysteriously on your desk claiming, “You’re the best teacher I’ve ever had,” and a bonus if they spelled “You’re” correctly.

Thinking about the first day of school reminds me of a day I will never forget. It was my first day of school as a brand new teacher. I was so nervous and could not believe that I was the adult in charge of all these unfamiliar faces. As I began to take role slowly calling out the name of each student on my list, (I should have practiced the names beforehand) I noticed one particular name that intimidated me. Because there was no other option, I just stated the name the best way I knew how and I immediately knew I didn’t say it right. I looked up from my paper to see surprised faces starting to giggle, then the giggling turned into falling out of their chair hysterically laughing. You see, when I tried to pronounce this name, it sounded a lot like a curse word.That was the first time I ever lost control of my classroom and certainly not my last. I soon realized that I might be in over my head.

In the seven years I was a teacher, my students taught me way more than I could ever teach them and that is something I really valued.

So no matter the position you find yourself in on this “first day of school,” know your role is important and the work you’re doing is appreciated! The hard days will not last forever and school years always seem to fly by. Enjoy the moments because it all goes by way too fast.

Expect Great Things, Attempt Great Things

William Carey, the father of modern missions, once said, “Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.” On an early morning in July 2016, we had a group of students and leaders do just that as we set out on a short term mission trip to the country of Haiti. This was a step of faith for many of our students who had never attended a mission trip or even traveled outside of the United States. As we walked off the plane and loaded on the bus in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, it was evident that this trip was going to stretch us spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

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