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Students at commencement


Trinity Lutheran Church

Location: Stillwater, Minnesota
Denomination: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Size: 800 average worship attendance

Download Trinity Lutheran's VCP report or see report contents below:

Ministry context

Trinity is:

  • A community that welcomes you wherever you are in your faith journey.
  • A community that honors who you are and what you bring, a place of acceptance and welcome, a place to explore faith honestly, with all your intellect, curiosity and questions.
  • A community that partners with others to provide food, water, clothing, shelter and to show God’s love and care.
  • A community of worship, ancient and modern, contemplative and participatory, a host for the arts and a home for beauty and expression.
  • A community where children and teenagers want to come and bring their friends.
  • A community where people can explore their unique design, their purpose, their call to work and service in the world.
  • A community that will laugh with you, rejoice with you and cry with you.
  • A community that makes a difference in the world.
Pre-existing practices

1. Culture of Gratitude

Through years of effort of Trinity’s Gratitude Team, a beautiful culture of gratitude and generosity has developed within the congregation highlighted by a deep appreciation for the Gratitude Team’s work, publication of the Tapestry of Gratitude in 2009 and an annual gratitude event. Members shared numerous stories of the immense joy experienced through generosity.

2. Strong Heartbeat for Serving Others—Mission

Trinity is a congregation intent on making a difference in this world. Our activities, which have increased in intensity over the past five years, include serving both local and global populations. Trinity partners with people to address their basic needs and work toward self-sufficiency. We believe that missions broaden perspectives, break down stereotypes and give a new sense of community. We gain deeper understanding of the complex nature of poverty and working toward equality in this world.

3. Strong Leadership and Communication

The congregation expressed appreciation for the direct and transparent communication—especially regarding the church’s needs—from the senior pastor and staff.

Discoveries from listening process

1. Despite Being an Affluent Community, There is Significant Anxiety Regarding Money  

2. Members do not Easily Make the Connection between their Financial Lives and their Spiritual Lives 

Opportunities for growth

1. Biblical Scholarship as a Basis for Faith and Generosity can be Strengthened

2. General Stress and Anxiety around Financial Matters

3. Connection Between our Financial and Spiritual Lives. Teaching Money Management as a Spiritual Practice

Experiments undertaken

1. Educate

As affluent Americans, we swim within a culture of materialism and consumerism. Therefore we strive to raise awareness on several topics:

  • Materialism is a competing theology to Christianity.
  • Consumerism undermines our faith. The real threat of consumerism is not the consumption of goods—as contingent beings we must consume resources to survive. The problem is not consuming to live, but rather living to consume.
  • Lifestyle should be an intentional choice. We are the architects of our lives. We should deliberately design a way of living that aligns with our beliefs and values.
  • New Covenant Giving principles.

2. Equip

The spiritual ramifications of our association with money and possessions is often overlooked. Money can be a spiritual ally or a spiritual enemy. As an ally, money enables us to carry out God’s work in the world and provide comfort and joy for others and ourselves. As an enemy, it creates barriers that inhibit God’s work and cause us to falter on the path to spiritual growth and transformation. In this phase, the team will establish programming on topics such as financial management including children, adults, couples and families; stewardship and legacy planning; and development of a spiritual journey (small group) opportunity utilizing stewardship as a spiritual practice.

3. Apply

By raising awareness and equipping Trinity members with tools to enhance their spiritual and financial capacity, we believe Trinity’s culture of gratitude and generosity will soar to new heights. We expect to see small groups and new projects to serve God’s people to grow. We must connect with each Trinity family to understand their stewardship calling. In this phase, we will design and implement infrastructure to support the development of new projects and small groups, and assist with matching family stewardship objectives with project opportunities at Trinity and around the world.