How Does Trinity Church Work?

Author: 
Francis Noordanus

How Does Trinity Church Work?

A brief explanation of how Trinity Church Eindhoven operates,

prepared by Pastor Francis Noordanus, January 2014.

 

Introduction:

Our Faith Foundation - A bit of theology first.

Trinity Church is part of the one Church of God established, and being built by, the Lord Jesus Christ.  All that a church involves should rightly be part of this building project under the one Lord.  Being and doing church is a work empowered by the Holy Spirit as suited to the context and season.  The Lord’s designated ongoing purpose for His Church is that it be the focus for his presence among humanity and that it provide a witness of salt and light in every age and place that prevails against the powers of darkness.  The core business of the church is making disciples for Jesus Christ.  Faithful disciples and saints are the church’s desired fruit in every age. 

 

The diverse Shoulders we stand on and the Hands we link with.

Through history there has always been diversity in the way churches fulfilled their common mission.  Faith is transmitted anew through the generations as well as across cultures and continents in ever adapting modes and styles.  Trinity Church reflects that rich diversity as a distinctive expression of church in this time and place.

The formal or defined nature of Trinity Church comes from the Church of England of which we are a part.  With this particular heritage comes a great amount of theology and methodology along with various cultural values common to English speaking cultures.  As the Church of England has become the global Anglican Communion there various possibilities available from its diverse heritage when it comes to adapting to local contexts.  This freedom to operate in diversity is strongly present in the Anglican DNA of Trinity Church.

Of particular emphasis within this received Anglican heritage from the Church of England is the ordering and authorization of ministry.  Bishops are a focus of unity through being the primary minister and pastor within their diocese.  They license elder-priests to serve as congregational pastors within their dioceses.  They also license all other official ministries both lay and ordained.  In this model all public ministry is authorized by license and accountable to the license giver.  Trinity Church is part of the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe with a Bishop appointed by the Church of England.  In Trinity Church today, bishop’s licenses to preside at communion as priests are held by Francis and Barbara Noordanus, a lay reader’s license to preach and lead worship is held by Jan Waterschoot and the following have licenses to assist in the distribution of communion  (first names only) Bala, Helen, Kris, Liesbeth, Klazine, Madeleen and Nico.

At the same time the Church of England / Diocese in Europe does not provide any funding for Trinity Church and requires an annual contribution of around €6.5K per year towards its own operations.

 

So how does we work this out in Eindhoven?

Ministry Teams

Trinity Church could be summed up as running on a pastor-led ministry model with emphases on Sunday worship, incorporation of new members, children’s ministry and pastoral care.  The Pastor serves as director of ministry similar to the conductor of a large classical orchestra.  He invites people to play a role and guides their performance within the whole.  The ‘orchestra’ gets to play most obviously on Sunday mornings when many people serve in some way to enable the congregation to worship, be nurtured in age specific groups, welcomed, cared for, hosted with audio visual support in a clean warm facility etc.  

From our 2013 Advent Survey 66% of adults (age 19+) are involved in serving in some way.  This highlights the priority placed on being a church where it is normal not just to turn-up but to serve.  This is intentional for two reasons: 1) The Pastor’s vision for people to grow spiritually as disciples through service in a church functioning more like a racing yacht with an active crew than a luxury cruiseliner with passengers wanting individual service.  2) In the Dutch context the employment of extra church staff appropriate to a church of around 200 is prohibitive with the resources available so empowered volunteers are essential.    

A key mechanism for enabling 66% of the congregation to be active in ministry is the Ministry Team.  They are essential.  The forming and leading of teams to teach children, disciple teenagers, care for and minister to infants, run audio-visual equipment, lead/support praise & worship, welcome at the door and pour coffee is crucial for Trinity Church on Sunday Morning.  There are also teams that operate beyond Sunday such as Practical helps, Church-wide e-communications, Church cleaning, FOMT (Distant Missions) and the Church Council.  (More on Council below)  This commitment to maximum member ministry is also reflected in our worship through having many voices take part through reading scripture and public prayer.

Leadership within our ministry teams is crucial.  Typically, many people are prepared to serve in a team but serving through leading a team is a higher level of responsibility and commitment.  Where leadership is not to hand the pastor(s) Francis and Barbara step in and fill the gap as best they can until leaders can be raised.  Ideally every ministry team leader is training their replacement and has an apprentice.  

The Church Council is the Church of England’s representation provision for the management of the local church’s resources and any issues requiring representation from the congregation.  In Trinity Church the Pastor’s encouragement has been for Council to see its role primarily as being to support and resource the ministry and mission of the Church.  In its most basic form this comes down to managing the funds received from the members to enable the ministry and mission to happen.  That presently requires an annual budget in which retaining a pastor at 90% costs -all figures approx- €72K,  Church facilities - all costs-inclusive - €34K, Archdeaconry & Diocesan Contribution €6.5K and Distant Missions Support (FOMT) ranges from €5-7K.

What is important to note here is that the Church Council does not ‘run the church’.  That is actually done by Ministry Teams under the direction of the Pastor.  What the Church Council does do is enable the church to run the ministries and missions of the church.  The Council’s focus is transparent management and careful provision of support in financial, legal and material matters.  This is worth noting when nominating people for Council at the Annual General Meeting.  While the Church Council is a place where every aspect of church life may be addressed and discussed it does not direct ministry or pastoral care but it does enable them.  

Alongside the service of ministry teams on Sunday and at other times several solo contributions are also made.  Jan Waterschoot arranges the worship space especially around Christmas and Easter while the Pastor generally preaches and presides at communion and offers individual pastoral care.  The current pastor’s wife (Barbara) is also ordained and effectively an unpaid member of staff as required.

 

Cell Groups

In keeping with global trends, Trinity Church has a number of small groups -‘Cell Groups’- to nurture the fellowship and care of the congregation beyond Sunday.  Due to people’s complicated lives and the cultural diversity of our congregation, Cell Groups are encouraged to develop organically among people who can make the same time slot and speak the same language.  While there is no single program for cell life, a typical meeting is expected to: open the Bible, relate personally and pray.  It is taught as an: UP to God, IN to each other and OUT to the world combination within every meeting.  The OUT is typically the most difficult to achieve.  Cell groups are the first line of pastoral support for anyone struggling with life.  They are circles of trust and care where the bruised and weary can be supported.  At times individual pastoral care arises from out of the cell context and by referral to the Pastor.

As with Ministry Teams, Cell Groups depend on a servant-leader to convene, coordinate and sometimes direct a cell group.  The dozen or so Cell Groups are coordinated by Barbara Noordanus.  In the 2013 survey about 56% of the adult congregation were in Cell Groups.

 

Conclusion:

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