Excitement! That’s the word Rev. Patrick Broz used to describe what’s happening in the Trinity United Methodist congregation in Lindsborg.
Two years ago, the word likely would have been “discouraged.” But today, the congregation talks about the life in their church because they are engaged in doing so many things.
“When I came to the church two years ago, the question on the administrative board’s mind was, ‘Which utility are we going to shut off?’ because they couldn’t afford the bills,” Broz said. “I decided that was not a viable option.”
He began looking at ways to move the congregation away from a pastor-centered, bill-paying church toward a ministry-centered, mission-focused church. In other words, to change its culture—and it’s happening.
Word is spreading in this Swedish community of 3,500 southwest of Salina that Lindsborg Trinity UMC is the place to go to church.
Today, the congregation is preparing to hire a part-time Christian education director made possible by donations. Numbers of guests and attendees are increasing. The congregation is making plans to create 12 care groups.
An adult Sunday-school class applied for a grant from the state to make Trinity a place that serves meals throughout the summer to children who receive free and reduced lunches during the school year.
It was definitely a God thing, Broz said. Many factors came together to make the difference, but two stand out: Bring a Friend Sunday and the Vital Congregations planning process.
Early on, Broz held 16 house meetings to ask the congregation where they wanted to go. The listening sessions helped the congregation identify dreams and visions as well as opened their eyes to unmet needs of the community. The Vital Congregations work helped them evaluate their ministries in their missional context, gave them facts and produced goals.
Bring a Friend Sunday helped the congregation be invitational and begin to live like a vital congregation.
“Last year we designated the Sunday before Christmas as Bring a Friend Sunday because there is so much to build on to keep people wanting to come back,” Broz said. “We could say, ‘Oh, and you don’t want to miss Christmas worship next week, and the children performing and the cantata. And then there’s a whole sermon series in January on the Book of Revelation’ and so forth, all the way through summer.”
Bring a Friend Sunday took several months of planting, tilling and cultivating. Broz’s sermons and a variety of communications for several weeks helped prepare the congregation. Through the experience, laity said they better understood their responsibility to invite others into a relationship with Christ through the church.
This year, Bring a Friend Sunday will have a new name and life. It will be called Guest Quest. Guest Quest will look more at diversifying to better reflect the demographics of the community rather than bringing a friend, who is likely to be “just like you,” Broz explained.
One of the revelations from their journey through Vital Congregations was finding the gap between the make-up of the congregation versus who’s in the community.
“We think we mirror the community but we don’t,” Broz said.
When they looked at demographics from MissionInsight, the Kansas West Conference’s demographic service, and the U.S. Census, they found people in their 30s are the majority age group in town but represented the lowest number in their church. Lindsborg also has a high number of non-nuclear families.
“There’s our mission field,” Broz said.
Guest Quest creates the opportunity to integrate more of the Lindsborg community with the church community.
Two years ago, the average attendance at worship was 50. Today, it’s 150 and growing. Four new families are coming and giving regularly, and the new families are working toward leadership roles in the church.
The five Vital Congregations goals motivate the congregation and help them keep their eyes on the journey. Broz updates the progress on the goals each week. With new clear purpose and vision statements, the congregation and guests know who Lindsborg Trinity is and who it is becoming.
For more information about Lindsborg Trinity UMC and their journey or about Bring a Friend Sunday, contact Rev. Patrick Broz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get more information about Vital Congregations at www.kswestumc.org/VitalCongregations.