A parish is a more localized community of the greater local church. It is defined geographically primarily based upon zip codes. In this way, our congregation is not divided along lines of preferences, age, personality, race, etc. Rather, we fellowship in diverse community together as neighbors.
Each parish will have a Parish Leadership Team. This team, led by Parish Administrators, will consist of a Communications Coordinator, Community Coordinator, Missions Coordinator, and a Prayer Coordinator. Each coordinator will lead a small team of volunteers to focus on that particular component of the parish.
Elders living within the parish will be responsible for the shepherding and care needs of the parish.
The Primary Purpose of a Parish
A parish is an organized way to shepherd a large congregation. Its primary purpose is to ensure congregational care and community of all members of TCPC. Unlike Sunday school and small groups, which are voluntary, every member of TCPC is automatically placed within a parish. This then becomes the means of sessional care. Elders view their parish as the members God has entrusted to them. They pray for their people, check in with them, assist pastors when emergencies arise in their parish, and generally watch over the care and concerns of their parish. Do not confuse this with discipleship. Officers are not charged with the spiritual training of each member of their parish, rather their role is that of an overseer.
The Secondary Purposes of a Parish
The parish is also the means to meet certain needs that tend to get lost within larger congregations. Each of these needs has a volunteer coordinator within the parish that leads a small team to meet that particular need…
- Communications: As a church grows in size, communication becomes more of a challenge. We have felt this problem at TCPC and the parish model will go a long way in solving it. Each parish will have a Communications Coordinator who is charged with keeping their parish informed. Everything from emergency announcements, to church-wide events, to happenings within the local parish, the Communication Coordinator is disseminating important information. It can be as simple as an e-mail group, Facebook page, mass text, or as extensive as a monthly parish newsletter.
- Community: Intimate fellowship is often the unintended victim a larger congregation. In its early years, TCPC was able to fellowship together as a church but that is no longer a realistic expectation. The parish model, divides our congregation down into manageable communities of fellowship. Because the communities are geographically based, then it ensures diverse fellowship rather than fellowship based upon personalities, preferences, life stage, etc. Each parish will have a Community Coordinator who leads a team in creating events to cultivate fellowship. These events will take place within the parish (local parks, parish member’s homes, club houses, public pools, etc.)
- Missions: TCPC has a vision to reach the Bluegrass and that is a big, at times overwhelming, mission. The parish model will divide our vision down to particularized people groups of the Bluegrass. Each parish is tasked with reaching their community. Everything from evangelism to mercy needs within their parish, each member now has a focused area to direct outreach efforts. Their will be a parish Missions Coordinator in place to make known mercy needs within the parish, organize outreach events, etc.
- Prayer: It is important for every member at TCPC to be prayed for and to be praying for others. But the sheer numbers makes this calling overwhelming. Again the parish model, makes the ministry of prayer more manageable. Each parish will have a Prayer Coordinator who receives and distributes prayer requests, initiates a prayer chain, assigns parish members people to pray for to ensure each member is receiving consistent intercessory prayer, etc.
Added Benefits of a Parish Model
- Service to TCPC: When a church is small and numbers and means, it survives and flourishes through the service of its members. Often in larger congregations, this beautiful dynamic is lost and members become consumers rather than givers. The parish model takes the larger congregation led mostly by paid staff, and breaks it down into smaller communities that are not led by paid staff and flourish solely upon the service of its members. Therefore an added bonus of parish model is ample opportunities for members to exercise their gifts in service to TCPC.
- Future Church Plants: The greater vision for the parishes is church planting. The most effective means of church planting is an organic overflow. Rather than TCPC choosing an area, sending a pastor there to plant and build a church, this vision is fruit driven. A parish becomes a vibrant growing community and eventually reaches a tipping point where the community could become a local congregation unto itself. We then send a pastor to organize that parish into its own local church.