Category: Current Events

Pastor’s Weekly Update

There are a number of critical components to healthy church life. These include the way we worship, the way we do community (think relationships), the way we teach, the way we make disciples, and the way we witness. In recent days, God has opened some great doors for us to witness to others by using the storm as a way for us to engage with our community.

We have mobilized our people and invested resources in serving the Northeast Florida region with acts of service and the distribution of supplies. This also has led to us connecting with strategic partners, church networks, and individual congregations, and sharing with them supplies that have been made available to us.

As I shared over the weekend, there are great needs that remain, including hard hit areas in Clay County (mostly from Black Creek flooding), St. John’s County (where 900 families have been displaced), and here in Duval where 700 families also are unable to return home.

In addition to sharing the truck load of supplies, we have asked you to help us collect cleaning buckets (Supply list) and also by giving to Hurricane Relief (Click here to give).

One of my favorite stories is about the load of water, soup, pillows, and blankets we sent to the Converge Network of churches in South Florida. They were able to work among the Cuban population in the city, and, through a likeminded church, serve a community of people. These people were living out of their carswhile waiting for power and their condos to be cleaned in order to get back inside.

Here are some pictures that show you what an impact we are making. Again, your giving and volunteering help make a difference.

Let me challenge you to be in the services this weekend. Please remember that we missed an entire weekend of services, and as a result, we only received about 1/3 of our normal offering. (Click here to give) Would you consider helping us catch up with our offerings this weekend and give generously as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this time of need?

Pastor’s Weekly Update

So that just happened.…Hurricane Irma has occupied most of our time and attention over the last 7–8 days. It is has been both an eventful and amazing week in as the impact of the storm changed all of our normal plans and schedules. Seeing the destruction that Hurricane Irma caused to our city has been devastating. However, I know that we will recover and it has been so powerful watching this community come together to help others during crisis.

Since the hurricane, we have mobilized over 100 volunteers who have helped families clean up their properties. Wednesday night, we fed 500 people, many of whom were there because they did not have power. One family left a note that said this was their first hot meal since Saturday! What a privilege it is to have the resources to care for people.

Our church does not want to just be a church in Jacksonville, but a church that is for the city and for the Northeast Florida area. We are calling our church to respond to help meet needs and use that as a platform for gospel witness. We have helped clear houses of debris, provided food and water, helped relocate families, and we have many more opportunities. A relief organization contacted me on Tuesday and offered us multiple tractor trailer loads of supplies. Our people have organized, opened warehouses, and mobilized to help us deliver water and supplies. What we are not using we are redirecting in a timely way to South Florida where needs are great.

Additionally, most of our property and facilities came through largely unscathed by the storm. God was gracious and our support staff did an incredible job. There was obviously damage on the auditorium and damage to some of our property at our Rehabilitation Farm in St. John’s County. We are working with our insurance company on processing these claims and repairing what has been damaged. The fact that this was a named storm means that our deductibles will be considerably higher than normal. These are issues that we will work through in the days ahead.

Here is how you can engage with us as we serve the community.

  1. Sign up to work on a debris clean up team. We continue to get requests to help either church members or people in our community that need help cleaning up. These are a great way to serve people and let them know that our church loves and cares for them. You can text “Relief” (all one word) to 555–888 to be notified for future needs. We have teams going out on Saturday. Please meet at 8 am by the football fields.
  2. We are asking Classes and Small groups to help with providing food for families in need. We are doing this on a small scale at this time, but these are important opportunities for us to help in tangible ways. You may be contacted by someone to assist in providing food and supplies.
  3. We are working with churches in the North East Florida area to secure cleaning buckets. We launched a Crisis Bucket Campaign to help meet this need. Over the next 10 days, we will be collecting buckets and items to help assist families in their recovery efforts. You can bring a complete bucket or bring items to fill a bucket! All items can be dropped off to the Plaza at our Hammond location, Monday through Friday, 7 am-7 pm. You can also drop off items during Sunday service times at either Hammond or Oakleaf. These are buckets with a supply list that help families that have experienced water intrusion in the home and need help getting started in cleaning. Here is a link with information about the buckets.
  4. Please give to Hurricane Irma. (Click here to give.) We are using our resources to meet needs, and what we do not use directly we will donate to local relief efforts to help people in need.
  5. Finally, be in one of our services this coming weekend at either Hammond or Oakleaf. Obviously, there were not services last week and we missed most of the offering opportunities except for that which came in online. We need a good offering this week just to recover and help with our ongoing weekly expenses. If you are not able to be here Sunday you can give online

Our city is needy. While much of the need is fairly obvious, the greatest need is for the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are privileged to help bring that gospel witness by word and deed to the community that we love. This should impact all of us. This is the perfect opportunity for us to teach our children and lead our families to serve, to give, and to sacrifice for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I want our church to be known in the community as one that is here for them and one that points them to Jesus Christ. See you on Sunday and know that it is a joy to serve the Lord with you.

Tom Messer

 

Pastor’s Weekly Update

As you and I prepare for what will likely be a relaxing three-day Labor Day weekend, I hope that you will remember the people who have gone through the unimaginable devastation in Texas, and now Louisiana, from Hurricane Harvey. This is a time for the church to respond and to come alongside those who are suffering and affected and do what we can to help. There are two ways that I think that we can help in the short term. First, I would encourage you to pray. Praying for protection, safety, and recovery efforts are great places to start and praying for people to have their hearts turned toward God in this crisis can be a turning point for so many. Second, we have created a convenient way for you to give. Visit TBC.org/Give, and select Houston Disaster Relief. Every penny that is given will be sent directly to SEND Relief, a Christian, on-the-ground disaster response team. You can read more about their efforts here: https://missionaries.namb.net/. Additionally, we are looking also at opportunities to send members from our church to go and help.

Coming up on October 1, both campuses will be hosting our Annual Fall Big Day. The purpose of this day is to give our church members an opportunity to invite their neighbors, coworkers and friends to come and see what Trinity is really like. Remember that there are people around you who are simply waiting for a personal invitation, and October 1 is a great chance for you to invite them to come. It is a great way for us to put an emphasis on outreach, and give you a specific target for inviting unchurched people to experience what God is doing here at Trinity. I truly believe that we have a place for everyone here. So start thinking now about those you plan to bring with you!

I’m looking forward to this Sunday as we continue our series on Finding Happiness in Unexpected Places from the Sermon on the Mount. When you experience the rule and reign of Jesus in your life you will find a happiness that is impossible to experience any place else. It is truly where you discover heaven while living here on earth!

See you on Sunday.

Pastor’s Weekly Update

There is nothing quite like the way that our campus comes to life with the opening of schools and the gearing up for fall worship services. It is always fun to be part of a ministry that is filled with young people, both Academy and College, who can become influencers for Christ.

In addition, the new Connection Plaza opened to the community this week and the response has been awesome. Many parents from our surrounding neighborhoods have found out about the indoor playground, and are thrilled to have a safe, fun and cool place to bring their kids to play. Another draw is the coffee shop; it is the best place to get coffee on the Westside!  Many people already have shown up to grab a cup of coffee and let us know that they would be regulars! It excites me to think about all the people we will be able to connect with through the use of this building.

Our back-to-school teaching series, Finding Happiness, launched this week. This practical study through the teaching of Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount,will help us to discover the kind of life where we are flourishing inwardly and outwardly. Join with me to invite those you meet to experience what God is doing on one of our campuses or in one of our services.

What God is doing is the result of what you have done in praying and giving to make ministry possible. I believe that we are making a difference in our community and that we are the key to helping people find and follow Jesus.

Pastor’s Weekly Update

You never know what is going to happen when you go to church. This past Sunday, as I left the house, I knew that the weather was going to be a challenge for both campuses as it was raining all over the city. When I arrived on campus here at Hammond, I learned that lightning struck the auditorium, knocking out the power to the air conditioning and to the transformer that controls our media (audio and video). By church time, we only had lights and minor sound system equipment working. These were not ideal conditions for church and certainly made us get creative in pulling it off, but as we finished the morning of worship, I was reminded that things don’t have to go perfectly in order to experience the movement of the Spirit.

This season in our church is an important one and we are marking that by a special prayer emphasis. We are gathering on Hammond this Friday and Saturday for 24 hours of prayer. There are so many areas, I believe, where we need God to do a great work, and we have the opportunity to come together in unity as a church and seek God’s face. If Sunday was any indication, as I watched so many people come forward to write down their prayer requests and leave them at the altar, I can sense an eagerness for God to work. Join us this week as we pray for these prayer requests, and we pray for a movement of God in our church. During each hour there will be a pastor and other group leaders present to help facilitate a powerful prayer experience. You can click HERE to sign up for a time slot.

The following Sunday our Oakleaf campus will concentrate their prayer time on specifically praying for the schools in the area where we are connected. The church should be an agent of change in the community, where we are known for pouring ourselves out for the needs in the community. Let’s support this great initiative and ask for a special moving of the Holy Spirit.

We want to be more effective as a church going forward and we cannot do that without a fresh moving of the Holy Spirit. I am convinced that God does his greatest work when people pray!

We are gearing up for a back-to-school series that starts on August 20. We are going to study through Jesus’ teaching on the Beatitudes and what it means to flourish while living in a fallen world. Be thinking about those who you can invest in and invite to experience what God is doing here at Trinity.

Pastor

Pastor’s Weekly Update

Every year when I return from vacation, I can feel the anticipation that is in place for the fall. Coming back to campus this week, I sensed that there is a buzz in the air about things that are happening in the church with the grand opening of the Connection Plaza in a few weeks, and a great number of first time guests in our services on both campuses. The Academy is just a few weeks from having students on campus, and there is an excitement about the future with a new administrator in place. The College is a little less than a month from opening and students returning to campus. We are looking forward to the energy that results from having nearly 2000 college and academy students on campus every day.

The Connection Plaza is already making an impact as I see and hear stories of people who are connecting with new families and helping to build relationships that will be fruitful in the future. The playground will be completed and opened in about a week. My grandson, Tripp, asks about it every time he is on campus; his excitement level is off the charts!

One of our focus points in reviewing church programming is to help create a better discipleship and leadership focus. I am seeing that begin to take shape and am really encouraged by it. We are regularly talking with staff about not only getting people to serve, but raising up leaders who are going to help us reach Northeast Florida for Jesus. One area that really has been encouraging is what is taking place with our Rooted Ministry. Tommy and Rhoda Carr lead this ministry to our young adults, mostly single, and have sponsored a weekly volleyball tournament. They are averaging over 120 every week at the tournament and have connected with 30 first time guests. In addition, this group of young people, along with our youth, have filled dozens of volunteer positions to enhance Sunday morning.

Last week, I mentioned the 24 Hours of Prayer that will take place at Hammond campus on August 4–5. After seeing our altar filled with so many prayer requests written on post-it notes, I was reminded of all the needs we have in our church and all the ways we want to see God work. I know that this day of prayer will be a very powerful experience! I have great anticipation for all that God is going to do both individually in our people and corporately as a body of believers. If you haven’t already signed up, do it today!

Our prayer focus at Oakleaf is on the ministry that we are doing in public schools and is scheduled for August 13th. I want to encourage everyone to participate in these important prayer initiatives.

We are three weeks from completing our summer study through Galatians. The theme this weekend deals with the Holy Spirit and the way that he transforms our lives. I am convinced that this teaching, rightly applied in our lives, can be a catalyst to life change.

Remember, you are the most important part of helping us reach people. Invest in relationships with those around you for the purpose of reaching them with the gospel of Christ.

Pastor’s Weekly Update

I am writing this week’s blog while sitting in a condo at the beach. Our entire family, as well as close friends, are here together and we are enjoying a little time away this summer. It is always fun to get to be with the family and some friends as we get ready to gear up for what I believe is going to be a great fall at Trinity.

I am hearing wonderful reports about VBS this week, and appreciate every leader in children’s ministry and the great number of volunteers who are helping us to share the gospel and teach Biblical truth to children in a high impact setting. We have over 100 volunteers who are serving each night and 35 first time guests! Our Children’s Pastor, Jason Brown, told me of one particular guest who was invited by Susanna Zekas. Since he has special needs, one of our teens, Jensen Beck, has gone out of his way each night to make sure he is included and having a great time. It’s awesome to see Jensen as well as many other teens step up to serve.

This is a combined campus effort and I love to see what we can do when we work together.

This weekend, Daniel Riddick will be speaking at Oakleaf, and I will be back at Hammond. We have a few weeks left in our series through the book of Galatians, and this week’s topic is how the gospel transforms us. Most of us want to change; we just do not know how that takes place. This week will be practical and inspiring as you see how the gospel can change your life.

Pray for Pastor Daniel this week, as his dad went home to be with the Lord. I know that he appreciates your prayer and support during this time.

One of the things that I am most excited about on the calendar over the next few weeks is a multi-campus prayer emphasis. On August 4–5, from 4 PM to 4 PM, we are going to do a 24 hour prayer event at Hammond. On August 13, we are going to do a prayer initiative at Oakleaf that focuses on the 7 schools that we serve in the Oakleaf area. When I think about the needs of our city, the desire of our church to impact Northeast Florida, and the opportunities before us, it is impossible to underestimate the need for prayer!

Pastor

Pastor’s Weekly Update

It is hard to believe that we are already in July. A little over a year ago, we started a search for a new administrator to lead Trinity Christian Academy. This weekend we welcomed Mr. David Welling to begin serving in this important ministry role. Mr. Welling moved here with his wife, Marian, and youngest son, Daniel. If you see the Wellings around campus, please make them feel at home. I also encourage you to pray for him as he takes on this new responsibility. Trinity Christian Academy is a strategic part of our ministry and a great opportunity for us to impact our community. It is our mission to prepare students for future success in a gospel-centered environment. I am confident that the Lord led us to Mr. Welling and I’m excited about the future of the academy under his leadership and influence.

This afternoon I took a walk around campus to check on some of the progress being made to our renovations in the E and M Buildings. This summer we have refurbished hallways and classrooms and have added an upgraded Media Center in the E-Building. Some of the work is much needed, like updating paint and carpet, while the rest is strategic to help us modernize and improve educational practices and provide a more secure learning environment for our children.

Last Sunday was the soft opening of the new Connection Plaza. It is so meaningful to see this building come to life knowing that so many of you invested in it. I know that this “New Front Door” will help us better connect with guests and give them the best experience possible on our campus. I loved the energy from our greeters, especially those holding signs at our front entrance. It is so encouraging to see so many young people get passionate about serving. There is a place for everyone to serve; if you have not yet signed up, please consider doing so!

This weekend Dr. Ed Gibson will be speaking for me at the Hammond Campus, as I am out of town with my family for vacation. I look forward to resting and starting to prepare for what I believe is going to be a great back to school season. I am praying for God to do great things in our church in the days ahead.

Before I go, here are a few more encouraging things I thought you’d like to know:

  • VBS starts this week and we have 100 volunteers who have signed up to help. Pray for our leaders and kids!
  • Construction on the Connection Plaza playground began on Wednesday. Tripp told his mom that he was going to sit right in this chair and watch them build the whole thing!

Pastor

Pastor’s Weekly Update

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Fourth of July. Our festivities started on Sunday and we experienced a great day! Both campuses had food trucks and inflatables and both campuses had a great number of guests. In fact, Oakleaf had the largest number of guests all summer and the largest single service since they began almost three years ago! There is an energy that we get when we are all together and we have opportunities to hang out and visit with people that we don’t always see because of multiple services. We already are looking at more opportunities for similar events in the future.
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Pastor’s Weekly Update

Last week I sent a 15 year old to Haiti on his first mission’s trip, and this evening I will be picking up a 16 year old at the airport. I’m thankful for our Student Pastor, Joel Milligan and Mission of Hope leaders who threw him a Haitian birthday party. I’m even more thankful for a church and leaders who care about missions and help mobilize our people — including young people — to share the gospel around the world. It takes a lot of work and resources to put together these trips, and I know they are life-changing for our youth. I’m really looking forward to hearing about their experiences!

I have never been so energized about what I see happening in our ministry. There are stories that demonstrate that God is working in and through our people in so many different ways. For example, last Saturday, Kris and Tabitha Parson, who started The Believe Foundation, hosted a movie night in the Dining Commons for pediatric oncology patients and their families. They provided pizza, popcorn and a movie, and had a family who is here from the U.K. show up. I know they were able to encourage this family by spending time with them. I love to see our church people get creative in how they minister to people and I also love to see our facilities being used for that purpose.

It takes hundreds of volunteers every week to help us pull off ministry on both campuses. This past Sunday, we engaged 60 new volunteers who will begin serving this fall. Serving is an important next step on your spiritual journey and we try to make it as easy as possible. If you’re interested in signing up to serve at our Hammond campus, click HERE! If you’re interested in serving at our Oakleaf campus, click HERE!

This coming Sunday is going to be fun! There will be one combined service on both campuses — Oakleaf at 10 am and Hammond at 10:30 am — followed by food trucks and inflatables for the kids. I love that our campuses are strategically located in areas where we have many neighbors and opportunities to reach new people. I encourage you to think of one family or one friend that you can bring with you to worship with us and enjoy a time of fun and fellowship after church this Sunday. This event will be a great opportunity for them to experience what God is doing at Trinity and get to know us.

We are continuing our series through the book of Galatians. This week we will be studying the last part of chapter 2 and talking about how the gospel touches every single area of our life. Because of this, we are to arrange our lives around the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Praying for God to do great things in your life this week!