Dreaming Over the Horizon

Trinity's staff doing its dreaming
Trinity’s staff doing its dreaming

On Tuesday, Trinity’s staff boarded our bus and drove to Northfield, where we spent the day on a staff retreat.  There, we were very graciously hosted by our friends at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

After opening devotions and prayer, we spent the morning first thinking about our individual areas of ministry, and where we envisioned those areas growing over the next three years.  Then we watched a video together that came from this past year’s Willow Creek Leadership Summit.  The video was about how we can best look at our ministry with a fresh perspective, and how we can encourage others in our community to do the same.

We grabbed lunch at “The Ole Store,” and then returned to our work.

In the afternoon, we did a visioning exercise.  Under the overarching question of “How do we encourage congregational engagement,” we spent time creating “What if…” statements.  In the “What If…” exercise, one can only begin a sentence with the words “What if…”  If anyone responds to the statements, that response must begin the words “Yes, and…”

It’s a brainstorming exercise, so nothing is off the table, and no negative comments (blocking) are allowed.

We know that we could come up with hundreds of ideas, and that if we walked away with only a few that were worth pursuing, it would have been a success.  (Any more than a few is just “gravy!”)

These ideas were written on 3×5 cards and stuck on the wall.  After that process (almost an hour) was complete, we categorized these ideas into three areas:

  • “Tasks” (which we probably have the resources to do now).
  • “Dreams” which are currently out of reach, but which, if made a priority, would be things we could probably accomplish;
  • “Identity.”  That is, things that are central to who we are as a church.

I thought it would be fun to share these things with you.  But first, two observations:

  • Just because it appears on a list, doesn’t mean that we’re going to do it.  The fact is, we have lots of good ideas, but for any number of reasons, we might choose to let that idea go…or to delay implementing it.
  • I’d like to invite you into the conversation.  Please make comments to this blog post and join into the vision work that the staff is doing.

The ideas that surfaced included (in no particular order):

Tasks (Things that could be in reach)

  • Laity involved in leading worship
  • Communion served every Sunday
  • Doing a “Faith Walk”
  • Yoga
  • Better storage for the bells
  • More drama in worship
  • A “Mom’s time” in the mornings or a “date night” in the evenings with childcare
  • Bible Study Trivia league
  • Bible studies “off campus”
  • Churchwide progressive dinner, or other themed dinners
  • Adult trips to other churches (and inter-faith)
  • An interactive database so that people can change their own information
  • Finish the basement space
  • Volunteers doing car repair for low-income families/individuals
  • Using Trinity’s bus as shuttles for assisted living
  • Doing the Trinity Parking throughout the entire Steele County Free Fair
  • New Members welcomed at the service that they attend (instead of all at one)
  • Welcome letter/basket to new residents in Owatonna
  • A family/small children focused worship experience
  • A discipleship program for young children
  • Members “Bring a Friend” to worship day
  • Online Bible studies for college students away, and/or for snowbirds
  • Community Garden
  • Family service projects
  • 3rd/4th grade mentor/buddy program for younger children
  • Interest based small groups
  • Community needs being met with our space
  • Providing heating money for low-income families
  • Vocational field trips

Dreams (those things that are just out of our reach right now)

  • Worship companions for those with special needs
  • Buy a house to use for families/single Moms needing transitional housing
  • Monthly “Leadership Lunch” for leaders in the church and community
  • More family trips
  • Community concert series
  • impromptu church services
  • The return of “Helping Hands”
  • Bookstore/Coffeeshop at TLC
  • Buy Central Park Coffee Shop
  • A dedicated learning hour for all ages
  • Curating more faith-resources on our web site
  • Trinity members host homeless families who stay in Trinity’s building (other churches invited to participate)
  • A weekly faith-based radio show interviewing people with faith stories
  • An afterschool program for children (like SAC, but faith based)
  • Grow and develop a mental health ministry
  • Support ESL programs
  • Dedicated space for Wildcat Pantry
  • A child-friendly worship space in the front of the sanctuary to invite them into participation
  • Sponsor/Host a refugee family
  • Provide bikes in the community (like “Free Ride” programs)
  • A crisis response team with a stocked trailer to respond quickly to emergencies
  • Bring back the “Elizabeth Ministry” (for newborns and their parents)
  • A regular family camp
  • Tell more “faith stories” in our publications
  • Start a K-6 grade school
  • A summer “Arts Camp”
  • Become an LSS site
  • Build a Habitat for Humanity Home in Owatonna
  • Host MOPs, Kidzone and community ed opportunities

Identity (Those things that really speak to who we are as a congregation)

  • Stewardship/generosity of both finances and time/talents
  • A discipling community
  • Creating a safe space to talk about end of life issues
  • Engaging issues of justice
  • A mentor for each child/youth beginning early in life
  • Deeper service
  • Environmental stewardship
  • Distributing Bibles throughout Owatonna
  • Linking our member’s gifts to community needs
  • Interfaith relationship building
  • Hosting community events/service
  • A congregation-wide scripture study
  • More oral storytelling

As you can tell, the ideas were flowing!  It was a fun and energizing conversation.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  -Proverbs 29:18

There are two immediate “next steps.”  First, we will continue to collect ideas.  If you have any to add, please put them in the comments here in the blog…or we’ll have these cards hanging in our office/work area.  Please feel free to add a card there.  Second, we will begin to filter these ideas.  Which help to fulfill our mission?  Which is somebody else already doing, so that we don’t have to duplicate?  Which are attainable?  Which fit into our strategic plan?  Which would grow people’s faith and our community?  And then, of course, we’ll draw the congregational council and other leadership into this process.

It is critical that congregations continue to look over the horizon.  We need to be a dreaming community.  We strongly believe that the Holy Spirit is calling Trinity to continue to be a church in motion.  Discerning where God is calling us is the next critical step in our aligning with God’s mission.

Please continue to keep Trinity and all of its leaders in your prayers!

Pastor Todd

3 thoughts on “Dreaming Over the Horizon

  1. These are valuable ideas and thoughts. Perhaps beginning to build a friendship with our Muslim brothers/sisters in town would be another.

  2. Great ideas! I’d love to see a dedicated youth lounge/hang out area…with a tv, games, karaoke, couches, etc. Love, love the inter-generational worship ideas and bringing back Elizabeth Ministry. A few of the ideas I feel like groups and people are already doing them & doing well. I’d like to see us as be more of a partner vs a competitor and asking these people/groups, “What can we do to help?” Thanks for dreaming!

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