Reimagining Church

Thriving Congregations Initiative: New Models for the 21st Century

“Would” into “Will”

By Sarah Neumann

A few weeks ago, I led the Reimagining Church working group members on a prayer walk around the Church of the Holy Trinity. We stood together in the room where the parish shares coffee hour every Sunday after church, coffee still warm on the counter. We pulled open drawers and examined old bulletin boards in the dimly lit sacristy. We touched the dark wood and gleaming silver in the chancel – for some of us, the first time we’d ever actually done so. And we braved the cold and wind to stand outside on the sidewalk, Main Street bustling behind us and the familiar stone façade and red doors of the church across the lawn. Everyone in our group has spent plenty of hours at CHT, and yet, some of us had never been in some of those spaces before. 

            It’s a funny thing to discover such a familiar place again for the first time. A particular gift of welcoming newcomers to our churches is that, if we’re lucky, they lend us their fresh eyes to see again as though for the first time. Where we see old pews, someone else sees beautiful wood grain or a place to rest their legs. The announcements, photos, and liturgical items that we see every Sunday tell a new story to someone who is seeing them for the first time. And the same old church people saying the same old liturgy with us every week can be seen for what they really are: a community who wants us here, and a group of people seeking and serving God as best they can.

            “We could move this over there,” “This should really be easier to find when you walk in,” “I would love to bring people back here more often.” Soon, we’ll turn to the hard work of transforming those coulds and should and woulds into “will,” as we endeavor to try something new and set a course forward. That transformation, so poetically simple on paper, is in reality hard work. It requires creativity, risk, and failure. It might ruffle some feathers. Most of all, though, it demands faith: faith in the community to be able to hold and persevere through change, faith in our ability to discern the right path forward, and most importantly, faith that God is and will be present at Church of the Holy Trinity, no matter what the future holds. 

Image | Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash