In any organization, even churches, it is imperative that all its actions, decisions, and efforts be directed toward a clear, unifying, and compelling vision and sense of mission. Without this vision and mission, no amount of effort, obedience, faithfulness, or truth will keep the organization from drifting into a sense of complacency and lethargy. “By a powerful law of fallen human nature the mission [of a church] begins to dim and the goals become blurred and the momentum of strategic thinking lapses into the mentality of maintenance … it will happen if we don’t refresh our sense of mission and renew our reason for being again and again,” John Piper. It is with this conviction and sense of urgency that the Session of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, Alabama, adopts a vision to direct Trinity Presbyterian Church over the next five years.

It should be said that this vision for the future rests firmly on the principles and ideals that have shaped Trinity’s past since 1891. We enthusiastically affirm our mission “To respond to the Great Commission by so presenting Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit that all may come to know as Savior and follow Him as Lord in the fellowship of His church.” We enthusiastically affirm our purpose “To exalt Christ in metropolitan Montgomery by dynamic and faithful worship, aggressive evangelism both at home and abroad, teaching the word of God, and equipping members to minister to the spiritual needs of our church and community.” We enthusiastically affirm our values: faithfulness to the scriptures, fidelity to the reformed faith, obedience to the Great Commission, God-centered worship, prayer, love to God and to others, accountability to one another and cooperation with the broader church. We enthusiastically affirm previous vision statements and studies (particularly 1999 and 2009) and continue to strive for the ideals presented in those statements.

It should also be said that this vision is born out of many hours of prayer, discussion, and deliberation by the leadership of the Church. The Session has adopted this vision believing that the Church can and must pursue these initiatives in response to God’s call on Trinity. These are goals that we believe we must pursue while depending on God’s direction, provision, and power to accomplish these things through us.

We believe that God is calling Trinity to pursue the building of a series of spiritual bridges that will help connect our members, our community, and the world to Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can create new life and bring the fullness of the gospel to bear in anyone’s life. We believe, however, that God is calling us to facilitate the renewal of the world in Jesus Christ by building spiritual bridges that will invite and encourage others to experience fully what it means to be a child of God. As we journey across each spiritual bridge we move from “knowing” to “doing.”

Bridge One: Head-to-Heart

God has created us to live as authentic Christians who fully experience life as intended, but our tendency is to live the Christian life apart from the vibrancy and power of the Holy Spirit. We envision a church in which every member is growing deeper in his or her personal relationship with God, is experiencing the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit and is living an increasingly authentic Christian life. We envision worship that is genuine, lives that are transformed, and hearts that beat in time with the Father’s heart. We envision a church that not only knows God intellectually but experiences Him emotionally and follows Him obediently. [1]

Bridge Two: Person-to-Person

God has created us to live in community with one another, but our tendency is to live segregated lives apart from the body of Christ. We envision a church in which every member is a part of a loving community of believers, is exercising his or her spiritual gift(s) in a meaningful way, and in which the Elders are effectively assisting the Ministers in the spiritual oversight of the people. We envision a church in which no member is left behind or is separated from the spiritual community. [2]

Bridge Three: Debt-to-Freedom

God has called us to a future ministry in Montgomery and the world, but right now we cannot move forward as quickly as we would like because of the remaining debt. We envision a church that is debt free, purposeful and careful in its use of resources, and wise in its management of the good things God has given us. [3]

Bridge Four: Church-to-World

God has called us to cooperate with the broader church until all the nations of the world have received the good news of Jesus Christ, but our tendency is to direct our mission efforts toward the familiar and easy. We envision a church that is boldly seeking and following God’s unique call to reach the world for Jesus Christ by seeking out and supporting a focused set of missionaries that are taking the gospel to the world. [4]

Bridge Five: Past-to-Future

God has called us to live as a part of a larger community of believers in a connectional community, but our tendency is to drift away from our traditions and connections. We envision a church in which the leadership and membership sense an increasing connection to our theological and ecclesiastical heritage and our denominational allegiances. [5]

Bridge Six: Hurting-to-Healing

God has called us to have life and to have it more abundantly, but for many people who have been broken on the wheels of life their problems keep them from experiencing the fullness of life in Jesus Christ. We envision a church in which need-specific help can be given to the hurting so that they can move forward in their spiritual life. [6]

Bridge Seven: Church-to-City

The love of God and the good news of Jesus Christ are meant to be shared, but our tendency is to be silent about the grace of God to others. We envision a church in which the lost, the searching, and the questioning are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, in which all are welcomed, and in which all can grow in union with Christ from wherever they are in their spiritual life. We envision a church that reaches out to the unique communities of Montgomery with the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. [7]

Spiritual bridges connect one entity to another. Once constructed an entirely new path is opened before us that did not previously exist. It takes faith to build a bridge, and it takes faith to cross a bridge. Only God can ultimately do both of these. He, of course, is the Great Bridge Builder who has provided a bridge for us from sin and death to life with Him, and that bridge is Jesus Christ. We believe that this calling from Him is only a calling to reproduce what He has already done for us by taking the message of Jesus Christ to Montgomery and to the world.

Your Part

In Isaiah 40:3-5 we read, A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

What is the “way of the Lord?” First, the way of the Lord is the path that Jesus Himself took through His incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension (John 13:33). This way was prepared by the forerunner of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist (John 1:23). But the way has a further, contemporary meaning for us. Because the way is the path that Jesus took, it is also the path that we must take (John 13:36) and why Jesus summarizes the whole of the Christian life with two simple words, “Follow Me” (John 1:43) and why Jesus describes Himself as “The Way” (John 14:6). Early Christians, then, were understandably called “followers of the Way” (Acts 24:14).

But Thomas’ question is the question of many people to this day: “Lord, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?” It is to this question that Isaiah 40:3 speaks: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” The task of John the Baptist now falls to us. We must prepare the way of the Lord so that all those that are called to follow Christ can know the Way.

He Who is the Chief bridge Builder and the Bridge Himself asks each of us to be involved in preparing the way of the Lord through bridge building, i.e., making “straight in the desert a highway for our God” so that “every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain”…so that “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” The leadership has envisioned these bridges, but they will only become realities when we as one body build these bridges together. How can you help?

Picture, Plan, Support, Span

Picture  No one goes to the trouble to build a bridge or takes the risk to cross a bridge unless they believe that the “crossing” is worth it. We must all be convinced that the spiritual bridges are goals given by God for us to pursue. Accompanying each of these bridges is a list of scripture passages. Through the study of these passages, prayer, and honest contemplation before God, ask Him to confirm in you a sense that this is our calling as a Church.

Plan  No one builds a bridge without first surveying the environment and selecting the best place to build that bridge. And since several of these bridges involve bridges that are very personal and unique to each member, you can help by developing a personal plan for your life that seeks to build these bridges in your own life. Develop a plan to build a bridge in your life to others in the church, from your head to your heart, from your own life to the city and the world. We will be building large, corporate bridges for the Church, but each of us needs to build these bridges individually as well.

Support  Every good bridge is built on a solid foundation. Without it, the bridge will be of no use to those who need to use it. You can support the building of these bridges through your time, volunteer hours, spiritual gifts, financial giving to the Church, and prayer. Having dug deep into your own heart and soul, only then to have developed a plan to connect with others, you will be asked to now support the building of these bridges through your time, volunteer hours, spiritual gifts, financial giving to the Church, and prayer. Each one of us must answer the question: how has God called me to be involved in this vision? There may be multiple answers to that question. Some of those answers will require of us deep, personal, spiritual challenges and growth.  We may have to really stretch ourselves to span the gap from head to heart in our lives. Turn your conviction into action by finding a way to support these bridges.

Span  Some of these bridges will require special initiatives by the Church on a large scale. Once the bridges are built, some will need to reach across these spaces and reach out to the community, city, the world, and the broken. We are the bridges, and some will be needed to cross these spaces and be the bridge by which others come to know Him Who says, “Follow Me.”

[1] Matthew 6:19-21, 15:8; Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 51:10, 26:2; Ezekiel 14:1-5, 36:24-32

[2] Acts 2:43-47; Romans 12:10, 16; 14:13, 19; Ephesians 2:19, 4-16, 25, 32; 5:21, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 1 Timothy 3:15; John 13:34-35

[3] Romans 13:8; Psalm 37:12; Proverbs 22:7; 3:28; 22:26-27

[4] Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Luke 2:32; 10:12; Romans 1:16-17; Isaiah 49:6

[5] Hebrews 13:7, 2 Timothy 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15

[6] Revelation 21:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Isaiah 61:1-3; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 4:1-6; James 1:27

[7] Jeremiah 29:1-7; Jonah 4:10-11; Acts 1:8