Dear Friends,

Our Teaching this Fall

Secular culture is in crisis. Politicians and businesses of all kinds keep selling the idea that if we would only vote for them and buy their products, then all would be well. And yet, with no sense of irony at all, the same culture is screaming at us that the end is nigh because the people we’ve trusted have so badly messed things up. And, in the midst of this cacophony of fear, the only consistent secular advice seems to be: “be better”. If you could just borrow a little more, work a little harder, push your body and your mind just a little further, whatever happens to the world, at least you’ll be better off than your neighbor.

The Bible consistently teaches a completely different world view. It tells us that true security is to be found in Christ alone. And that our value is not a relative thing, compared to who we were last year, or to where other people are today. Our real value is determined by God, and it is completely disproportionate to any merit of our own.

This Fall, in our series Priceless: The Value of God in a Devalued World, we’ll be looking at the infinite value God attaches to us, regardless of any earthly measure, and why trusting God pays such dividends in world of confusion and fear.

After that, we’ll also be looking at the very practical question of forgiveness. It feels to me as though our culture is becoming both increasingly tolerant and intolerant at the same time and that fear is often driving us towards tribalism and judgment.

Many Christians struggle with the question of forgiveness: whether God forgives us; whether we must forgive others and; simply even how to do it. In our next sermon series, Jonah: The Forgiveness of God, we’ll be walking verse by verse through this Old Testament book and even addressing how it feels when someone we dislike
receives the grace that we don’t think they deserve.

Staff Team Changes

It’s a real time for change for us on the staff team. This Summer, we were delighted to welcome Stephanie, Christopher and Samuel to our church family and Rev. Ben to the staff team. Many of us have expressed how much we’re enjoying Ben’s teaching and pastoral ministry already and with Tracey+ and Jamey+ leaving, it feels like the Lord’s timing to have a really good new colleague on the team.

It’s been tough to see Tracey+ and Jamey+ leave, though it’s wonderful for Trinity Church to receive two such gospel-focused ministers of the Word.

While we continue to seek a new youth minister (or ministers) we have put together a transition team, of familiar people, to help minister to our youth group.

Ben+ and Kirsten Gerdes will be leading the youth band, who will still play once a month on Saturdays and possibly even more frequently at Youth Group itself. Zack and Tiffany Gray will be helping out with games and leadership, and Ben+ and I will be teaching.

We’ll all be taking a trip to Trinity Church to support Tracey+ and Jamey+ as they begin their new job on September 14. After that, each week we’ll be studying the gospel of Mark and using materials from the youth and young adult’s version of a course called Christianity Explored. “CE” is a really wonderful follow up to something like Alpha, but we’ll be taking it slowly and using it as part of the regular weekly youth group alongside all the usual sports, games and massive consumption of cheese-loaded carbs that we enjoy so much.

I’m really grateful especially to Lou Antosz, Ann Steenkiste and Matt Bunton for so faithfully loving and leading our amazing group of young people and for committing to them at this time of change.

Prayer and Fellowship

Several of our leaders have discerned a strong calling to prayer in this season. We’ll be holding a prayer meeting every month for the rest of this year. Our first prayer meeting is something we hold every Fall as part of our budget process. We firmly believe that every godly budget must always begin with prayer. For the last few years, in prayer, we’ve felt a consistent calling to increase our spending on children, youth, and mission and God has given us the resources to do so every time.

We’re also starting the first stages of discerning a much larger and longer-term vision for our church. We wonder whether God would like us to do something with our buildings and grounds to make them more accessible and more suitable for fellowship and worship. But before making any sort of physical plan, we wish to see whether there might be something else to consider as a higher priority.

For example, several people have mentioned a desire to get together in fellowship more often for festivals, parties, and worship nights, as well as simple meals using the church facilities. We’re also seeing a growing desire for several men’s ministries to mirror the wonderful growing women’s ministries in or church. The all new secret Men’s group (woops!) meets on the last Sunday of every month for fellowship, a movie, and cards at the Pittsburgh Cigar Alliance in Polish Hill. We also wonder if it would be good to launch a new bible study as well. Please speak to Rev. Ben if you have any thoughts about that.

Love in Christ,

Rev’d Alex