Game For Change

HTLC Awarded Grant for Thriving Initiatives

What does it look like to share God’s love?

As Christians we throw out terms like this regularly. But thanks to a newly-awarded grant, we have the opportunity to think, pray, and plan together for what this really looks like. 

Holy Trinity was recently awarded the reKindle Congregational Development Program grant of $15,000 from Columbia Theological Seminary. With over 60 applications, HTLC was one of only eight congregations chosen. 

Awarded by the Lilly Endowment, a private philanthropic group funded by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, the grant is part of the Thriving Congregations Initiatives. Along with the grant, the program also includes a three-day workshop in Georgia and will focus on helping congregations to grow in the modern world. 

“Across seminaries, across synods, across various denominational bodies, Lilly is investing money into experimentation and how to have thriving congregations,” says co-Pastor Ben Hilding. “They’ve changed the landscape of the church in North America. Most of the things that invest in vision, imagination, and creativity in ministry are somehow funded by Lilly.” 

Approved by the Church Council, Strategic Plan 2.0 may experience a name change when the time comes, but the goal is to continue the work of the first Strategic Plan. This version will adopt five initiatives: Welcome; Worship; Respond; Children, Youth, and Family; and Facilities. It will also include two congregation-wide meetings and dinners, termed “Huddles.”

Lay Leader Pat Remfert is looking forward to meeting in person again. “After the pandemic, and what we’ve gone through in this church, we need a project to be the glue that brings us focused and back together on growing this church.” 
 
 

Huddled in 2020

Holy Trinity first held a series of four Huddles in 2019 and early 2020. Titled “Looking Inward,” “Looking Backward,” “Looking Outward,” and “Looking Forward,” they were held to determine our priorities, remember our history, decide how best we can help our community, and envision the future. The last meeting was perfectly-timed on Sunday, March 1, 2020, a week before COVID came to Minnesota and the church was forced to close. 

Undeterred by the stall of the pandemic, the Vision Team utilized online platforms to finish the process and create a Final 2020 Vision Report. “We had so much momentum [before COVID] that it took us over the finish line,” says Remfert. “This was moving! Because of all the work and involvement of the congregation, that helped us to get it over the finish line.” To continue that momentum after the pandemic, the pastors found the grant and applied. 

 

Where It All Began

The initial Strategic Plan was started in 2014 when the congregation commissioned Kairos and Associates to help determine our core values and mission. We held focus groups, participated in individual interviews, and answered surveys. At the end of that process, the church voted on eight core initiative areas: Worship, Operations, Shared Ministry, Mission, Hospitality, Stewardship, Spiritually Alive, and Youth Ministry.

This time, the premise will be  based on a formula from “Leading Change,” a book by Harvard professor John Kotter. 

  1. Create a vision
  2. Determine the strategies to the vision
  3. Decide plans to enact strategies
  4. Determine budget
What’s Next?
 

The first Strategic Plan 2.0 Huddle will be Fall 2021. At this meeting, the team members will be introduced to the congregation along with more information about the five initiatives. The second Huddle will be Spring 2022 and the final reports will be presented.

“This is our window to implement the vision into actionable items,” says Hilding. “If we don’t do the necessary thinking of reflecting and praying, I think we’ll miss out on a great opportunity to listen to God’s calling for us now. This is a strategic window to do that, to both reflect and pray, but also to take the next necessary steps as a result of the Vision process.”

Each team will be responsible for determining the benchmarks to meet their goals. “For example,” says Remfert, “the Welcome Team will be responsible for deciding how we become a more welcoming church.” But each team will be intentional in listening to the congregation. “This will be the work of the congregation, not a select few,” says Hilding. “The Visions Team’s role was to foster congregational discernment in the same way this will foster congregational discernment.” 
 
 
What Would it Look Like?

The teams are encouraged to dream big. “You can only create so much energy for small initiatives,” says Hilding. “We want to be thinking big enough that people can be inspired. What can the church do? What would it look like if we actually did share God’s love for all people? What do we have to do differently?” 

Hilding is looking forward to the next round of Huddles.
 
“During COVID, caution has been the primary word. Care and love have been our primary concerns. For me, it’s time to open the doors to serve and to make a difference and that’s exciting. Game on!”
 
Written by Rose M. Fife, HTLC Communication Specialist

One Response to “Game For Change”

  1. audre johnson says:

    Congrats to all who worked to attain this grant. Sounds like some fun challenges ahead!!

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