Christopher & Tammy Baldwin

When Reverend Dr. Christopher and Reverend Tammy Baldwin arrived at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania, they were facing an uphill climb. The church had struggled coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic along with a host of other concerns and issues but still had great potential for reaching its surrounding community. It was important to begin the process of understanding the church’s history and how they viewed themselves. From there, it became apparent that defining the ministry’s context by outlining a greater definition of the community and region in which the church existed were important steps for the church to take.

The church leadership started a revisioning process based on Acts 1:8 and began working together to define and understand Trinity’s Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. Over the next 12 months, the entire church was invited to participate in these revisioning meetings. These gatherings worked through a church assessment tool, tracing the church’s history through a journey wall, outlining and evaluating church values, defining places of mission focus through soft and hard demographics’ studies, evaluating the church’s strengths and weaknesses, and identifying areas of opportunity. Pastor Christopher observed in this process that “We sensed a shift in our hearts from gazing at our church and its needs to embracing the people and needs of the communities and region around us.”

This revisioning process was adapted from the work Pastor Christopher had done on his doctoral dissertation. The emphasis of his writing was designing a process for new church plants to understand and serve more effectively the context of where they were started. Not too dissimilar to the approach of critical contextualization that many missionaries practice. It would end up the adaptation of that research and practice would serve well in assisting an established church to chart a course of ministry development.

From the review of the church’s history, the people of Trinity were able to celebrate the seasons of great ministry effectiveness and surrender to God the habits and attitudes that were discovered to really inhibit the church in the past. Excitement began to build as they defined their mission and vision, the ministry values and areas of mission focus that would serve well long-term ministry effectiveness. The natural byproducts of the process were twofold. There was a unity and excitement to work together to move the church forward. There was a corporate excitement to enhance existing outreach efforts while creating a few more.

Trinity car show

In the summertime following the revisioning process, the church capitalized upon this newfound focus and excitement along with a newly renovated parking lot and began to host a monthly car cruise event, providing food and activities for children all while Trinity members intentionally formed relationships with regular community attendees. Building upon the popularity of the annual live nativity outreach, the church was able to meet more people in their Jerusalem by pushing the event attendance from 350 to 650 this year.

Continuing beyond their Jerusalem into their Judea, Trinity Church together identified an opportunity to help plant a recovery church in conjunction with three other local churches. Despite the launch being only a few months old — launched October 24, 2023 — fruit is already being produced. Recovery church is already celebrating salvations, baptisms and even a wedding as people decide to follow God more closely.

Recovery Church

It has been exciting for Trinity to be on the sending side of a church plant. Pastor Christopher summarized, “To watch the four churches come together that don’t have the larger resources but have people who love Jesus; it has been a blessing to watch God use it, just like the loaves and fishes, seeing that each church would bring together the different things that they have to the table and make them available to be used by God.”

The final component of the revisioning process was brainstorming and discussing the ministry of discipleship. Since the retreat, the church has done work in crafting Trinity’s new discipleship pathway. Pastor Tammy shared that to her “outreach and discipleship go hand in hand with one another.” The discipleship pathway laid the groundwork of discipleship, helping people to self-identify where they were in their discipleship journey: new believer, disciple, growing disciple, maturing disciple, reproducing disciple. These five categories are the foundation of Trinity’s discipleship process.

Dedicated outreach efforts and people intentionally engaging in discipleship has led to many new people connecting to Trinity. The church has seen a 20% growth in worship attendance over the last 12 months. Because people are so hungry for discipleship and to gain a greater understanding of their beliefs, Trinity started a new believer’s class. Pastor Tammy carries a long-term vision: “Discipleship is like a crockpot. It will be a few years before we start seeing the benefits of spiritual growth through discipleship.”

Most important of all is to emphasize that all that has happened at Trinity was built on the foundation of prayer. Christopher and Tammy have had a front row seat to all that God has been doing and they agree, “It is humbling to be a part of God’s story.”

For more information on the Baldwin’s and Trinity’s revitalization journey, click here to listen to the Acts 1:8 Podcast.

Rev. Jacob Gibson
 is the senior pastor at LifeSpring Wesleyan Church, Richmond, Indiana, and graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and Wesley Seminary, Marion, Indiana.