The Church Has Left the Building

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This fall we’ve asked a number of leaders to respond to the question, “What is saving your ministry right now?” Sarah Butler is one of our workshop presenters for the 2016 National Gathering. Learn more about the workshop at the end of her post. We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Sarah Butler

What saving our ministry now?

Two and a half years ago, I came to Trinity Presbyterian Church as a redevelopment and interim pastor. Trinity had shrunk from almost two hundred members 10 years before to less than 50 when I arrived.

The problem? It was easy for members to exit the church but almost impossible for new people to get in. You simply couldn’t find us.

Our church, the lovely, was on a narrow side street with no parking. When I told people about the congregation and its address their first question was, ‘Where is that?’ We began to tell people that we were a block north of a well known bar.

Of course the church’s problems did not end when you found a parking space. The church building was on five different levels and it was impossible to go anywhere without going up or down a flight of stairs. The layout was such that an elevator was impossible.

trinity pres holiday innAnd then, like Elvis, we left the building. We moved into a brand new Holiday Inn on a busy street with plenty of parking, and no stairs anywhere. There was a built in sound system and video and they even make coffee for us and clean up the mess!

The Wednesday Bible study is in the food court at the local mall and the church office is housed with another church nearby.

Now I tell people about the congregation and where we worship and they say, ‘I see your signs all the time!’ We often have visitors and the church has already started growing. Of course our joy has grown faster than our numbers. But this is the good news!

Sarah’s National Gathering workshop: Reaching them ALL

Only 30% of the population learns by hearing, yet most sermons and liturgies are geared to reach that minority. This experimental, experiential workshop will explore different learning styles, discuss how to reach the other 70% and help to plan innovative, creative worship experiences. Attendees will take a learning style assessment prior to the workshop. Offered Tuesday during workshop block 2. Learn more and register here.

sarah-pic-teachingSarah Butler is an working artist, writer and second career teaching elder of a congregation in the midst of redevelopment where worship is aural, oral, visual and conversational.
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