There are some things they just don’t teach you in seminary.
For instance, a theological education does not include classes like Selecting Stucco Colors for Your Tudor- Style Church Building or What To Do When Your Radiators Won’t Work. Despite the fact that both such classes might have come in handy during my first six months at Grace- Trinity Community Church, there are some things they just don’t teach you in seminary.
Some things you have to learn along the way.
Pastors often joke that seminary doesn’t prepare you for everything a life of ministry entails, and that our work often includes tasks we could have never expected from our job descriptions. I find that to be true on an almost daily basis. Recently, I was called upon to remove a dead bat (or was it sleeping?) from the floor of our fellowship hall. How could I have ever expected that?
But it’s the enthusiasm, energy, and openness of the people of Grace-Trinity that have been most unexpected.
In a Pentecost sermon at Westminster Presbyterian Church here, Pastor Tim Hart-Andersen spoke of how the Spirit is moving at Grace-Trinity. He told us how a couple of women had taken on the task of cleaning out a cluttered old coatroom at the back of our sanctuary, freshening up the long-neglected space.
Well, those two women came back every single Wednesday over the summer, each week tackling a new area of the building and inviting others to join them in their work. The Spirit is moving, indeed! We’re looking at our building through the eyes of those who enter it for the first time, creating spaces that are warm, welcoming, and useful not only to our own congregation, but to those who have yet to enter our doors.
We’ve received generous gifts from Westminster members to help improve our facility, both inside and out (hence the need to select a new stucco color!). These gifts have, in turn, brought new levels of generosity among our own members.
We’ve welcomed visitors who’ve heard about Grace-Trinity and are returning beyond the first Sunday. We’re looking forward to our first new members class in years. We’re planning to launch a new worship service geared toward the young adults who live in our neighborhood.
How could we have been prepared for any of this?
Yes, it’s true that there are some things they just don’t teach you in seminary. Maybe that’s because God is so good — providing abundantly, even in the most unexpected places.
Maybe, there are some things you have to learn along the way.
Daniel Vigilante is a CPM Inquirer with the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area. He also heads a new ministry at Grace-Trinity Community Church in uptown Minneapolis. Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis is working with the small congregation to reach the young population near the south Minneapolis neighborhood.