Christ Is Mine Forevermore

I have experienced pain and sorrow in my past. Yet, in those times, Jesus had shown himself to be even greater than those circumstances. He comforted me, cared for me, provided for me. If He was faithful to care for me back then, wouldn’t He care for me in whatever present or future situation? We have to remember that God works things out according to His good, meaning it doesn’t always work out like WE think it should. Pain and suffering may last longer than we want or expect. I love the lines of this song:

“But mine is peace that flows from heaven
And the strength in times of need
I know my pain will not be wasted
Christ completes His work in me.”

Whatever the case, we remember who God is and what he has done for us. We remember that Jesus pursued us with a love like no other. We remember He endured the agony and suffering we deserved. We remember He rose and defeated sin and death. We remember that He did not leave us alone but sent His Holy Spirit to reside in us, spurring us on to be formed and shaped into the image of Christ. We cling to and remember Word of God. 

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And we know that for those who love God and all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:26,28

Yesterday both New City Macon and New City Milledgeville introduced a new song, Christ is Mine Forevermore by CityAlight. The sound and structure is like a modern hymn meets the Psalms. Like many of the psalms, the writer is speaking to himself, his soul, spurring himself on to rejoice and be glad! Take a listen, learn, and be ready to sing this coming Sunday! 

 

Christ is Mine Forevermore

Mine are days that God has numbered
I was made to walk with Him
Yet I look for worldly treasure
And forsake the King of kings
But mine is hope in my Redeemer
Though I fall, His love is sure
For Christ has paid for every failing
I am His forevermore

Mine are tears in times of sorrow
Darkness not yet understood
Through the valley I must travel
Where I see no earthly good
But mine is peace that flows from heaven
And the strength in times of need
I know my pain will not be wasted
Christ completes His work in me

Mine are days here as a stranger
Pilgrim on a narrow way
One with Christ I will encounter
Harm and hatred for His name
But mine is armour for this battle
Strong enough to last the war
And He has said He will deliver
Safely to the golden shore

And mine are keys to Zion city
Where beside the King I walk
For there my heart has found its treasure
Christ is mine forevermore

Come rejoice now, O my soul
For his love is my reward
Fear is gone and hope is sure
Christ is mine forevermore!

If you missed this week’s sermon, you can listen to it on here.

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The Blessing and Challenge of Leading as Couples

Photo: Emmaus Church

Something that may be different for you the first time that you visit a New City Missional Community is that husbands and wives lead the MC. We believe that the unique gifts that the Holy Spirit imparts to individuals are to be used within community. Husbands and wives often have differing stories in how they met Christ and unique experiences they have walked through during their spiritual journey. These gifts and experiences culminate into leaders who disciple and train others to disciple.

What does it look like to lead a missional community together as a couple? Drew and Lindsay Webster share how they have been able to utilize each other’s unique strengths and perspectives as they lead together, engaging with their neighbors in ways that they would not be able to do on their own. They have found it important to be open with their missional community about challenges in their marriage as they seek to rely upon Jesus and their community in their leadership. - Saturate

A Season of Change

To say this past year has seen a lot of change is an understatement! It has been one long season of change - from searching for a building to closing on the building and finishing work on the building to shifting and adding staff.  We are looking forward to a year of settled focus! So here's where we are:

Building - We are in and enjoying the new space.  We've been able to go from 2 services to 1 service with the added children's space and worship space.  Join us at 10:30 every Sunday!
There are still some things to finish and some bugs here and there to be worked out.  But we have a great space, great parking, great kids space and room to grow!

Staff - June will be our final transition month, but what a lot of transition.
Patrick McConnell will be taking the Lead Pastor Role in Milledgeville beginning full time in July. He has been working in this role while also helping keep his normal areas of Community and Children's ministry moving forward.  Jennifer McConnell has been a huge part of the Children's part of that - we are very thankful for her!  As Patrick transitions to full time in Milledgeville, so will Jennifer and the rest of the family. 

Caleb Bedingfield has just stepped into the role of Community and Connections Director, taking a portion of what Patrick was overseeing.  Caleb will primarily be working on Missional Communities and our Sunday morning Connections.
caleb@newcitymacon.org

Heather Perrin will be taking on the Children's Director role. Heather has already been working with Jennifer and Patrick and will continue transitioning through June. We are excited about adding this role and having Heather join us on staff! Each week we fill our downstairs with children and the more children we have added, the clearer it has become that we need someone on staff dedicated to children. Welcome Heather! We'll have her bio up on the Leaders page soon.
heather@newcitymacon.org

Amanda Christopher has been working for us at New City for years!  Amanda actually started working with New City her senior year of college as an intern. Over the past few months her role has become much more official. Amanda serves the staff as an Administrative Assistant. Amanda helps with almost everything from website, social media, and print materials to conferences at New City.
amanda@newcitymacon.org

We are excited about the days to come!  This has truly been a season of change, but as always, God has blessed us beyond our expectations. Continue to pray for this huge transition as well for all of our staff and elders!

Exciting News!

We are happy to announce our new Community and Connection Director, Caleb Beddingfield!

Caleb and Hanna left us a year ago to serve on the mission field in the Dominican Republic. Caleb saw the position opening and wrote, "We love Macon. We love New City. We love Missional Communities. We planned to be here in the DR this coming year, but when the position opened up at New City it was hard to pass on applying. Over the last two years, Missional Communities have become a passion for me. I've seen them work, and I know how valuable they are to believers and how effective they are in reaching non-believers and we couldn't possibly think of a better place to be serving than Macon with New City."

Caleb will begin working immediately with our Missional Communities as well as our Sunday morning Connect Teams. He will also begin working to establish mission partnerships for us outside of the US.

Patrick will be helping with the transition through the month of June and will then shift his full attention to New City Milledgeville.

Welcome Caleb and Hanna!

Advancing the Gospel...When Life is Hard

This past week we spent our time in Philippians 1:12-26 as Paul demonstrated his absolute commitment to Jesus and His mission, even while he was in prison facing a trial that could lead to his execution.

His demonstration of Jesus' Gospel becoming his own Gospel was a powerful illustration of commitment to serving God's Kingdom and not our own. We all have challenges and circumstances that we can use as a reason to not live out the call on our lives, but don't fall to the temptation. Paul relied on the Holy Spirit and the prayers of friends to remember his identity in Christ. His actions revealed his heart.

When life get's hard or distracting, how do you keep your focus on God's Kingdom and not distracted by our own?

Take a moment to read one family's struggle with the same temptation and their fight to stay on the mission God has called us to.

****

MAKING DISCIPLES AS A SPECIAL NEEDS PARENT

Families with complicated lives can still be missional.

by Rachelle Cox

How was a family like ours supposed to live out the practice of discipleship? The instruction in Matthew 28:19 seemed impossible for us.

Roughly six years ago, a miserable “stomach flu” turned into cause for celebration; I was pregnant with my second child. My husband and I had previous miscarriages, so we held our breath through the first trimester. After a few months of a normal, healthy pregnancy we apprehensively picked out a name for our daughter: Katherine. At 35 weeks, however, my unremarkable pregnancy turned perilous. A sonogram revealed our baby had developed fluid on her brain, building up dangerous pressure under her skull. Further inspection also uncovered the evidence of a stroke. Katherine was delivered within 24 hours of the frightening discovery, and throughout the next year she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Blindness, Autism, heart defects, and much more.

Our lives changed almost immediately. Medical bills and appointments began to stack up, and my husband had to pick up a second job. Meanwhile, I quit my career to chauffeur Katherine from hospital to hospital. Our parenting debates even changed; instead of cloth versus disposable diapers, we were discussing whether our infant should take Klonopin or Valium. By the time Katherine was two, my husband and I were mostly adjusted to this new reality, and these once-intimidating tasks were almost easy.

We were still stumped by one problem not medical in nature, but missional. How was a family like ours supposed to live out the practice of discipleship? The instruction in Matthew 28:19 seemed impossible for us. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Jesus couldn’t have meant all Christians, right? In addition to the responsibilities all families juggle, Katherine had an average of ten appointments per week and a dozen medications to keep track of. We felt like we had too much on our plate to be effective disciple-makers. We believed our family was the exception to Christ’s commandment, and so for several years we were only on the receiving end of discipleship. Friends would serve us, counsel us, encourage us, and teach us. It seemed unlikely we would ever pour back into anyone other than our kids. Eventually we realized our perspective on discipleship was too limiting and that Christ’s call was for everyone—even special needs parents.

Correcting Misconceptions

Modern evangelical culture has painted us a somewhat narrow picture of discipleship. When most of us think about discipleship, we imagine the weekly coffee shop cliché where we quietly discuss the Bible and swap prayer requests with ease. This style of discipleship will probably never be attainable for me or my husband.

The Bible provides us with more than one method when it comes to discipleship. The disciples of the Bible learned from Jesus while they worked and ate meals together (Luke 5:27–32), as they traveled together (John 7:1–13), as they celebrated holidays together (Matthew 26:17–30), and more. We are not limited to the peaceful coffee shop Bible study but are free to make use of our everyday routines to build up the church body. When we understood discipleship is a way of living rather than a specific event or meeting, making disciples seemed much more attainable despite our situation. For our family, “life on life” discipleship now included medical appointments, wheelchair fittings, and IEPs. In fact, bringing other people into this unique world of ours has become our primary discipleship methodology. When others enter our most vulnerable spaces, they aren’t just spending time with us but get to witness struggles they never considered before and are brought into contact with people they never would have met otherwise.

For example; several church members have sheepishly admitted to me that they once felt uncomfortable around those with intellectual disabilities, but spending time with Katherine has reduced their unease. Confessions like these showcase the fruit of our discipleship efforts. These friends were once afraid to love freely and engage an unreached and isolated people group, and now they are able to simply because I had them tag along for a few appointments. As our community lives alongside our family, they are being equipped to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone. If we had refused others access to our unique experiences, we would have denied them an opportunity to grow as disciples.

Making adjustments for the mission

Even with this new perspective, discipleship as a special needs parent still requires some practical adjustments. Participation in our church’s missional communities was a challenge. Our daughter can’t walk, and most MC leaders don’t have homes that are easily accessible for her. It was tempting just not to participate at all, but we decided to host our missional community at our apartment instead. This is somewhat unique for families like ours, who tend to sequester themselves into their houses with limited community contact. If someone had asked me five years ago if I would have a dozen people over for dinner and fellowship once a week, I would have laughed at them. God used our unique challenges as parents to push my husband and me out of out comfort zone, and now sharing our home is typical for us.

Teaching our daughter

It’s a challenging reality that our daughter may never be able to read the Bible or understand exactly what Jesus Christ did for mankind. My husband and I are supposed to teach her the Gospel as well, but she may be the toughest one to teach! While there are many unknowns when it comes to her discipleship, I do know this; Katherine is beloved by our church family and is constantly surrounded by disciples who are trying to make more disciples. By merely opening our lives up to our brothers and sisters, our disabled kindergartener has seen discipleship and community more clearly than many adults have. That communicates something powerful to a little girl with limited understanding—that community living and discipleship is God’s desire for those who love Him.

If you're grieving on Mother's Day

While Mother's Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all the moms in our lives, for many women, it is a terribly difficult day. These women feel the deep pain of loss, miscarriage, abortion and infertility, and as a family, we are called to walk with them in their suffering. If you're grieving on Mother's Day, or wondering how to love a friend well in her grieving,  read this thoughtful article by Adrienne Terrebonne. (Taken from (in)courage.)


I was tempted to stay home from church. I wasn’t sure I could walk in and fake being happy on this particular day. I cried out to the Lord, telling Him that He was asking too much, expecting me to attend the worship service that particular morning. You see, it was Mother’s Day.

For the first several years of our marriage, Mother’s Day was an uncomfortable event to process. Year after year of infertility and month after month of negative pregnancy tests made it difficult to celebrate this special day. I loved my own mother, of course. And I was thankful for my friends who had children.

But I was sad for myself and for my husband.

I didn’t think I could smile and pretend for another year.

As I sat in the pew, the pastor preached a stirring sermon on the attributes of motherhood. All the things he said were true. They just didn’t apply to me. And when the time came for all the mothers in the sanctuary to stand and be honored, my head dipped and the tears flowed. As mothers all around the room proudly rose from their seats, I prayed silently.

Why, Lord, can’t this be me? What do you have in store for me? You know my desire is to be a mom. Will this ever happen? I’m so sad, Lord. I know you are good, but I need you to show me your goodness today.

As I lifted my head and wiped my tears, I felt an arm around my shoulder. My dearest friend, a mother herself, had been watching my silent grief. She knew the longings of my heart because I had poured them out to her over and over for many years.

This friend touched her forehead to mine, squeezed my shoulders, and said these precious words. “I know that God has great plans for your life. I am so sorry you are grieving today. I love you and I cherish you.”

She was an answer to my prayer and exactly what I needed in that moment. Someone to acknowledge my hurts and to love me anyway.

Later that afternoon, in the stillness of my home, I grabbed my Bible as I attempted to process my hurts and disappointments from the morning celebration. I read through many Scriptures, but one jumped out at me.

So do not fear, for I am with; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Friend, the Bible doesn’t tell us that our lives will be easy. God’s Word doesn’t say that we will never suffer. In fact, it tells us just the opposite, that there will be times of suffering in our lives. But, through this verse in Isaiah and many others, I was reminded that the Lord my God is with me. No matter what I am going through, He will give me strength to get through it. When I can’t hold myself up any longer, when I can no longer pretend to be happy, He is there to hold me up.

And He will be there to hold you up, as well. Our God is faithful to stand by our side and walk with us in our darkest hours.

If you are experiencing a time of disappointment or hurt, run to the One who can heal your wounds. He loves you beyond what you can imagine.

I am the Bad Neighbor

by Caleb Beddingfield; adapted from a sermon by Joe Thorn at Redeemer Fellowship

by Caleb Beddingfield; adapted from a sermon by Joe Thorn at Redeemer Fellowship

 A common belief about neighbors in the States is that to be a "good neighbor" you need to be one who causes no trouble, doesn't impose, and typically keeps to himself. Most people think they should avoid interrupting others lives as much as possible. This sentiment is far from biblical.

Asking The Wrong Question

This whole conversation tends to revolve around the idea of what we want from our neighbors. Typically, people don't want confrontation. This is what I want most of the time. When my day is wrapping up, I want to kick back on the couch and spend time with my wife, not engage in meaningful conversations with my neighbors. This way of thinking makes me not expect my neighbors to intrude on my life, as well as hinders me from intruding on their lives. It is much easier for me to walk to the mailbox with my head down so that I don't notice my neighbors, rather than making eye contact which could lead to a "hello," which may lead to a conversation. If I'm honest, I don't want that after a long day.

The question seems to be "what do I want from my neighbor?" much more often than "what do I want for my neighbor?." When we remain distant from our neighbors, we potentially sin.

Asking the Right Questions

"Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." (Romans 15:2-3 ESV).

Remaining distant from your neighbors does them no harm, but it can be a kind of evil because God doesn't command us to ignore our neighbors. God calls us to invest in their lives personally and genuinely care for their well-being. When we begin asking "what do I want for my neighbors?" we begin to see our hearts change and our neighborhood affected by the gospel.

This sounds like something we can all do, right? Here's the catch: when God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to invest in them, and care for them, He is calling us to intrude upon them. God doesn't want us remaining distant, he wants us to have them over for dinner, and he wants us to be invading their space.

This is not just a call to intrude on our neighbors who are easy to love, but this is a call to love even our ‘bad’ neighbors. When we ignore our neighbor's lives, but they see us pack up the family for our church gathering every Sunday morning, what does that portray to them? When we ignore our neighbors, we are robbing them of the ministry God has called us to fulfill on their behalf.

What To Do

As in our MC's, it is smart for each of us to assess our influence and begin thinking about who our "neighbors" are. Once you know who they are, begin praying for them individually. This will serve them, whether they know it or not, and it will also begin to prepare your heart to better serve them. Christians have a unique opportunity in their communities that the world doesn't have. God has blessed us with the opportunity to impact our neighbors in both temporal and eternal ways. This can range from hospitality and generosity to seeking out real needs they have and meeting them, to inviting them to church or sharing the gospel with them. We have been called to bless our neighbors in ways the world simply cannot.

The Motivation

Here's the reality: I can read and believe this, feel guilty for my passivity, and even prepare a course of action, yet still do nothing. If I suppress these convictions for long enough, the guilt will disappear, and I will forget about the issue. The only thing that will move me and evoke change in me is Jesus.

Jesus is the only one who showed me perfectly how to love my neighbor and even took it a step further by saving me. Jesus did not merely talk about this; He sought my good and my redemption. Jesus loves me, the bad neighbor, enough to leave His throne and intrude into my life and rescue me from slavery to sin. Jesus refused to remain distant from me and chose to pursue my heart and seek my good. I am convinced that, because of this, I am called to interrupt the lives of my neighbors with the gospel. Let us be Christians and MC's who are marked by being in the mess of our neighbor's lives, for the sake of their welfare and the gospel.

The Song of Moses

This Sunday in New City Milledgeville, we will be introducing a new 'old' song called the Song of Moses. If you haven't listened to it before, we have included the lyrics and the song below. Give it a listen and we can't wait to worship with you all on Sunday! 

Song Of Moses

Verse 1
Oh the Lord our strength and song
Highest praise to Him belongs
Christ the Lord the conqu'ring King
Your name we raise Your triumphs sing

Chorus
Praise the Lord our mighty warrior
Praise the Lord the glorious One
By His hand we stand in vict'ry
By His name we overcome

Verse 2
Though the storms of hell pursue
In darkest night we worship You
You divide the raging sea
From death to life You safely lead

Verse 3
All the saints and angels bow
Hosts of heaven crying out
Glory glory to the King
You reign for all eternity

Bridge
The Lord shall reign forever and ever (6X)

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Search for a Community and Connections Pastor, Macon

New City Church, Macon is seeking to fill the position of Community and Connections Pastor. Our current Pastor over these areas is taking the Lead Pastor role in our Milledgeville location. This is a full time position and is immediately open.  If you are interested in the position please review the Job description and requirements. If you are interested and qualified, please email any questions and a resume to keith@newcitymacon.org.

Community and Connection Pastor

Purpose:
As a member of the New City Church, Macon elder team, the Community and Connections Pastor will help lead New City Church, Macon to live in light of the gospel, seeing the gospel transform everything within our reach – ourselves, our church, our city and the world in the primary areas of Community and Connection (Assimilation).

Role Summary:
The Community and Connections Pastor role is a divided role:

As the Community Pastor, your role is to help create and foster a sense of gospel-centered family within New City Church, primarily through Missional Communities and events.

As the Connection Pastor, your role is helping visitors and regular attendees become healthy, growing Partners of New City Church.

 

Primary Responsibilities, Community:

•          Staffing, Equipping, Training, Multiplication and Oversight of New City Church Macon’s Missional Communities in keeping with the mission and vision of New City Church and the elders.

•          Connecting those within New City Church, Macon to a Missional Community.

•          Leading and Overseeing church-wide community building events such as Partner’s dinners, Easter Weekend Picnic, Lake Tobo day… This has included bi-annual Partner’s Dinners, Easter Weekend Picnic and Egg Hunt, and a Summer Lake outing.


Primary Responsibilities, Connections:

•          Staffing, Equipping, Training and Oversight of New City Church, Macon’s Connect Team and assimilation related church information (Next Steps, Missional Communities, Serving, etc.).
The Connect Team includes but is not limited to the following areas: Greeting, Security, Parking, Coffee & Connect Bar, and Visitor Follow Up. The Connect Team primarily covers Sunday morning gatherings but may also be utilized for special events, conferences, and holiday gatherings.  The goal of the Connect Team is to help Connect people to New City Church and ultimately to Jesus.

•          Overseeing New City Classes (membership classes).  This will include scheduling and promotion of New City Classes, making certain that teaching and class materials are in place for classes as well as any related meal. These classes are currently held monthly immediately following our gathering and include lunch.  They are a requirement for Partnership and are open to anyone who wishes to know more about New City.

•          Maintaining an accurate list of New City Church, Macon Partners. 

Reporting & Working Relationships:  The Community and Connections Pastor serves under the authority of the Board of Elders and reports to the Lead Pastor of New City Church, Macon. He will receive pastoral coaching, guidance, counseling and encouragement from the Lead Pastor and on occasion from the Board of Elders.

Qualifications Required: (minimum needed to begin in the job)

•          Fulfill the duties of a New City Church member as outlined in the Partners Covenant
(available athttp://www.newcitychurches.org/partners-covenant/)

•          Fulfill the character qualifications of an elder as taught in Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9).

•          Fulfill the responsibilities of the Community and Connections Pastor in a way that does not interfere but instead is in line with a devotion to “prayer and ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

•          Personal and professional commitment to seeing Jesus’ mission fulfilled through the local church (Matt. 28:18-20, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8)

•          Proven track record in ministry and Biblical discipleship of others at an Elder level.

•          Exhibit discretion, perseverance, patience, flexibility and a sense of humor

•          Humble commitment to continually learn, grow and improve as a pastor in Jesus’ church

•          Commitment to working with a pastoral team for the good of New City Church

•          Able to apply the finished work of Christ through preaching, teaching and counseling to the present day struggles experienced in the community, toward their gospel transformation.

•          A good working knowledge of the Soma Church model for Missional Communities as well as Jeff Vanderstelt’s teaching on “Gospel Fluency” or an ability to quickly learn and apply those personally and in the church.

In addition, a New City Church Pastor must exhibit the essential expected character, be a good chemistry fit with the team, and show clear competence.

Character
In addition to the biblical character descriptions of I Timothy and Titus, a New City Church Pastor must be:

•          Able to take direction and criticism.  We all fail and make mistakes.  Direction and criticism are given for the good and growth of the staff member and for the good and growth of the church.

•          Able to laugh at themselves and have a healthy sense of humor.  This is critical to our staff.  We love to laugh at life and laugh with (and sometimes AT) one another. 

•          A self-starter.  The Community and Connections Pastor must be able to manage time and resources independently and responsibly.  He is expected to set and execute agreed-upon ministry goals. 

•          Persistent. While a strong start is important, shepherding in and toward growth is a process that requires determined and continued attention and effort.

•          A team player.  Must be willing to step in and do whatever needs to be done.  We do not tolerate the statement, “That’s not my job.”  If a light bulb needs to be changed or a toilet unclogged, New City Church Pastors should be willing and prepared to do it.  There are not tasks that are beneath any of us.

Chemistry
It is very hard to quantify chemistry, but it is a non-negotiable.  It is often most recognizable by its absence: when you dread seeing someone, cannot imagine sharing a meal together in your home, or would never want to be stuck in a car with them on a 10-hour drive.  When you are afraid to disagree with them or constantly feel judged by them.  When you don’t trust them to keep a confidence or deal with you fairly.  When you avoid speaking to them at the staff Christmas party.  You get the point.  Lack of chemistry will kill a healthy staff dynamic.

Competence 
We are currently looking for a Pastor who has:

•          A proven ability to develop community.  The Community and Connections Pastor will be in charge of continuously starting new Missional Community Groups and strengthening existing groups and leaders as well as fostering a general sense of community for the church as a whole.  This person needs to be a natural “connector” of people who deeply values the necessity of fostering relationships in their own life and among others in the church family.

•          A proven ability to develop ministry teams.  The Community and Connections Pastor will be in charge of developing, launching and supporting numerous ministry teams in order to carry out the mission and vision of New City Church on Sunday mornings, during the week, within the church and outside of the church.

•          Clear gifts as a gospel-centered teacher.  The Community and Connections Pastor must be able to communicate and apply the gospel effectively and winsomely to a diversity of both Christians and non-Christians.

•          An ability to apply the gospel in counseling situations.  As with any pastor, they will have ample opportunities to walk with folks through the challenges of their marriages, dating relationships, work struggles, addictions, doubts, etc.

•          An ability to train other leaders in applying the gospel to all areas of life.  It is not enough that the Community and Connections Pastor understands and communicates the gospel well; he must also effectively train other leaders to also communicate and counsel in the gospel.

Salary: $40,000 + depending on experience
Schedule: Sunday - Thursday, plus some Friday and Saturday responsibilities.  Office hours Monday through Thursday 9am – 4pm.
Hours: Full Time, 40-50 hours per week
Vacation: TBD

Shifting Roles, Milledgeville's Next Pastor

Special Announcement:
Patrick McConnell, New City Church Macon’s Community and Family Pastor will be transitioning to the Lead Pastor position of New City Church, Milledgeville. It is both with joy and sadness that we make this announcement. 
 

It is with sadness because we love the McConnell family at New City Church, Macon and have come to depend on Patrick and Jennifer for a great deal. Patrick has served on staff in Macon for the past two years but his history with New City Church includes almost nine years of service.  He has served in almost every role possible here and in our church plant in Warner Robins. Sending Patrick to Milledgeville will leave a tremendous hole in Macon.

It is a joy to send Patrick because it seems that this is God’s timing and desire for Patrick, his family and Milledgeville. It is also a joy because it seems that the Lord has been preparing Patrick for this day going all the way back to his early days of training in Spokane, Washington in 1997.

 The Elders of New City believed in early March that Patrick was the best person to take the Lead Pastor role in Milledgeville but committed to a process of patient prayer. Over the last month and a half Patrick’s love for Milledgeville and the people there has grown. God has continued to move Patrick and Jennifer’s hearts toward Milledgeville. We, the elders, affirm Patrick in the growing sense of his call to Shepherd the body in Milledgeville. 

This will obviously leave a large hole in Macon with much to cover.  Covering these duties will take a little time. Because of this, while we are announcing the move today, the actual transition fully into the role of the Lead Pastor of New City Church, Milledgeville will not take place until July. Until then Patrick will continue splitting time between Macon and Milledgeville.

We are excited about the future for Patrick and his family, for Milledgeville and Macon.  Please join us in praying for Patrick, Jennifer and the family as well as for New City Church during this time of transition.

God Bless,
Keith


From our "Leadership Page"

E-mail Patrick McConnell

Patrick grew up in Sharpsburg, GA and came to know Jesus and Jennifer at West Georgia College through the ministry of Campus Outreach. After serving in the United States Air Force, he lived Washington State for 12 years where he served in two churches as a Youth Pastor and a Family Pastor. On hearing about the mission and vision of New City Church Macon, he moved his family back to the South to be a part of what God was doing in Middle Georgia. In August 2011, Patrick led the team that started New City Warner Robins, now known as Sojourn Church.

Patrick is passionate about adoption and orphan care. He co-founded an organization that continued to serve orphans in Ethiopia and Uganda. He is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Marriage & Family Therapy. In his spare time, you can find him on a date with his wife or playing with one of his kids. He takes great hope in the fact that though he is a great sinner, Christ is a great Savior.

It’s Hard but It’s True: A look at the underlying problems that adversely affect African Americans (Part 2)

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In my introduction I said that that as a culture we’ve been working on the symptoms of the problems in our community and not addressing the underlying problems of our community.  Underlying problems are problems that give birth to other problems.  I brought out the fact that our efforts to diminish the ills that plague us are minimal at best because we are not addressing the real issues.  This blog identifies what I feel is the number one problem underlying problem and where we must start as a people if we are to see real change in our culture and communities. 

Problem #1

This first problem is probably the greatest hindrance to the revival and revitalization of our culture and communities. It’s also very disturbing the more I think about it.  This first problem dims my positive outlook for the future.  For other problems that I cite along the way there is no certain order except for how I present them.  However, this first problem may be the greatest hindrance to the revival and revitalization of our culture and communities.

Problem number 1 - We are unwilling to speak the truth objectively and openly discuss our real problems. This problem hinders our ability to solve all of the others.  I have heard it said that the first step in overcoming a problem is to admit that you have one.  As a culture we won’t say openly that many of our problems are caused by our own doing.  We will say that problems exist and even name some of them but we will rarely cite ourselves as the author of our own undoing.  We have nauseating reasons for our issues.  We point to racism.  We point to the covert conspiracy of America to keep African Americans down.  We point to high unemployment, lack of education and so forth.  Rarely do we say openly that we are guilty and have the biggest hand in the ills that affect us. 

Now we do own up to the underlying problems among ourselves in very small groups of friends, family members, and certain co-workers.  Often many of the people in these groups cite the real issues and have really good solutions or ideas about how to fix some of the problems we face.  However, those solutions and ideas will never see the light of day because if we implemented them, we would have to confront our own people in a way that lets other people who are not of our race know that we have real dirty laundry.  Several years ago Bill Cosby got plastered by our community for speaking directly to our dirt.  We would never allow our dirty laundry to be aired out in public.  It’s already out there but without our acknowledgement attached to it.  We would never allow others to know that we realize we are more of a problem to us than those whom we accuse. 

In addition to this we are unwilling to make the radical changes in the manner in which we operate, because making radical changes places the responsibility of where we are on us alone.  This in my opinion is the first and foremost problem.  Why do I cite our unwillingness to speak the truth objectively as the number one underlying problem?    Please allow me to explain.   Siding with another culture is an unspoken taboo among African Americans.  Doing so either ostracizes a person or label them “Uncle Toms.” As a culture we won’t publicly acknowledge what everybody else already knows. We will however stick together and continue to blame others and petition the government to do for us what needs to be done by us.  (By the way, my observations about our ills and not citing the ills of other races in no way suggest that other races do not greatly contribute to our issues.  My focus is on us.  What I am saying is hard but if you took the time to think very deeply about the many issues in our culture I believe that you will agree with me.  It is hard but it is true.) 

So how is not openly identifying our underlying problem a problem?   Imagine with me for just a moment that you went to your doctor because you’ve been sick and hurting really bad.  After the doctor examined you, he discovered that you had a really bad disease that could kill you but was curable.  Now suppose that he felt bad for having to tell you that you had such a disease?  Since he didn’t want to make you feel bad by telling you that you had this horrible disease he prescribes medicine for you that temporarily alleviates your pain but does nothing for the disease.  Now suppose your disease progressed so far that it became terminal.  How would you feel about this doctor?  You and all of your friends and family would be outraged- the doctor could have prescribed a cure for you but didn’t, because he felt that you couldn’t take the truth about your condition. 

This is where we are as a people.  Unless we are willing to confront the real truth about our condition and where we are as a people there can be no real help for us.  Our continued degradation and decline will be inevitable.  Just try imagining what our future may be like by looking at some of our kids today.  Many have no respect for authority.  Many are nasty, profane, and ill-mannered. Too many of them are being groomed in irresponsibility and entitlement.  They are our future. One reason good teachers are walking out of classrooms early is because our kids are becoming uncontrollable.   The dropout rate among African Americans is much too high considering the resources being spent to make our kids successful.  Come on people!  Look at where we are!   

So then how do we correct this first problem of being unwilling to cite and talk about our real problems so that we can apply good and measurable solutions?   The Bible speaks directly to this particular problem.  The Bible gives us a great guideline for change and we ought to use it!  Look at how it addresses this problem.  Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”  1 John 1:9states, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  The point is simple and we have biblical principles from which to work.  

One reason that I believe that we refrain from identifying the real problems in our culture is because some of the solutions takes us down paths that are controversial (not for me) and frowned upon by the masses.  We are not trying to simply hide our dirty laundry from white people.  We are trying extremely hard to get things right apart from using the principles that Jesus gives us in the bible.  Many of the underlying problems in our culture are violations of biblical principles that as a culture we “say” we value.  We have to put back in place principles that guide us on how to fix our underlying problems.  As a people we don’t want to go down that road because the solutions may seem offensive.  We are exactly like the doctor who does not want to make the patient feel bad so he does not tell the patient what he or she really needs to know.  Our doctor Jesus, the One who can fix all things has said that this is our number one problem

So then what is the solution to this particular problem?

Solution number 1 – Work from biblical principles.  Financial, Politically correct, and social ideas are at best a band aid approach that only contributes to the deterioration of our culture. Here are a few principles that we can cling to in working out our problems.

Principle #1 - If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.”  2 Chronicles 7:14-15

Principle #2 - “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”  Proverbs 28:13, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9  

For each problem that I cite there is a biblical principle that can serve as a foundation from which to work.

Solution #2 - We “MUST STATE” the problems of our culture THAT ARE OUR OWN DOING.  We need objective people from all walks of life who are willing to not only cite the underlying problems but to admit to them. I believe that in the areas of family, morality, personal responsibility, and principles for living, good pastors and churches should take the lead because we have a standard given us by God that has stood the test of time and is found to be exceedingly excellent and true.  I believe that the church should bring people together for real dialogue and a commitment to excellence and local change without regard for personal gain and public scrutiny.  We need excellence in our culture. 

I also believe that God has given His church the mission and mandate to operate such a monumental revival as this.  Not only do we have the mission and the mandate but we also have the obligation of love for each other and a command from God to work together for the good of our communities.  This is an opportunity for our brothers and sisters from all races to work together in love.  The bible teaches that when one member suffers we all suffer with it.  I see an awesome opportunity for the healing, growth, and welfare of a culture, community, an education system, a city, and maybe even a whole nation. 

So as we identify the real underlying problems we will no doubt see that God has set forth solutions for many of them in his word.  There are principles given us by God that we can apply to our community even if the masses don’t know Jesus. 

Overcoming our biggest problem is the real problem.  The solution is there. We have to implement it. In my next blog I will begin looking at specific problems that are detrimental to our community.

What do you think?

Reverend Lawrence Robinson

 

Aspiring to be an Elder

New City Church is led by a team of pastors called elders. The elder team is made up of both staff and non-staff elders. This team prays for the church, seeks to protect the church, and leads the church in following Jesus and in fulfilling his mission for her. 

I am often asked about New City's process for seeing someone become an elder. It is a question from our own New City folks as well as from other pastors and church planters. Following is our letter to a potential elder candidate. It outlines our process.

If you aspire to be an elder at New City Church, please email me so that we can begin the conversation. Whether you aspire to be an elder or not, would you pray for those who are?

On Becoming A New City Elder, the Process and Paperwork

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

My Brother,

It is a good and noble thing to aspire to eldership. It is also a task that can be quite difficult and taxing. It is the highest leadership role in the local church. Because of this, God has given some very specific qualifications that a man should meet to serve in this leadership role.

The elders of New City Church, Macon believe that you may be a man who meets these qualifications and is capable of leading with the Elder Team of New City. In addition to that, you have said that you do aspire to be an elder. With this letter, we begin the process of assessing your life and faith in light of the qualifications required to be an elder and begin a process meant to prepare you to lead well as a New City Church Elder.  The following is an explanation of this process:

Paperwork
Attached you will find questionnaires for you and your wife concerning things such as your devotional life, your family life, and your theology.  These questionnaires serve to help us get a clearer picture of each of those areas of your life and will help us to later formulate a growth plan for you, helping you to grow in any area(s) of weakness.

The questions should be answered honestly. The answers do not need to be extremely lengthy. They should fairly represent your thoughts, beliefs, understandings and life in general. While there is no expected turnaround time for the paperwork, we do find that the time to return the completed paperwork often reflects the applicants desire or lack of desire to serve as a New City Church Elder.

Interview
When your paperwork has been received it will be shared with the Elder Team. After the Team has had an opportunity to review your paperwork, an interview will be scheduled with you and your wife. The interview gives the Elder Team and their wives the opportunity to clear up any uncertainty from your paperwork and ask additional questions.

Following your interview, the Elder Team will discuss strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for growth. The Elder Team will make one of the following decisions:
The candidate is ready to become an Elder,
The candidate needs some growth to serve as an Elder,
The candidate is not qualified at this time or in the very near future to become an Elder.  The reasons for not qualifying generally fall into the categories of Character, Competency, and/or Chemistry.

Growth Plan
Most Elder candidates have areas in which they need to grow to serve well as an Elder. The existing Elder Team will formulate a plan of growth to help the candidate who is not quite ready to be an Elder grow into the role of Elder. A Mentoring Elder will meet with the candidate to talk through the plan and walk with the candidate through the growth plan. Often, this time of mentoring reveals other areas of need and the plan may grow or shift. This is a growth process, not a checklist of things to do to be a New City Elder. When the Mentoring Elder feels that the candidate is prepared for serving as a New City Church Elder, he will advise the Elder Team, and next steps will be taken.

What is Being Assessed?
The assessment process is designed to help us make certain that the candidate meets the Biblical qualifications for the role and will be a good fit for the New City Church Elder Team. We assess in three primary areas:

Character
In addition to the biblical character descriptions of I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, a New City Church Elder must be:

o   Able to take direction and criticism.  We all fail and make mistakes.  Direction and criticism are given for the good and growth of the Elder and for the good and growth of the church.

o   Able to laugh at themselves and have a healthy sense of humor.  This is critical to our Team. We love to laugh at life and laugh with (and sometimes AT) one another. 

o   A self-starter.  A New City Church Elder must be able to manage time and resources independently and responsibly.

o   A team player.  An Elder must be willing to step in and do whatever needs to be done.  We do not tolerate the statement, “That’s not my job”.  If a light bulb needs to be changed or a toilet unclogged, a New City Church Elder should be willing and prepared to do it.  There are not tasks that are beneath any of us.

 

Chemistry
It is very hard to quantify chemistry, but it is a non-negotiable.  It is often most recognizable by its absence: when you dread seeing someone, cannot imagine sharing a meal together in your home, or would never want to be stuck in a car with them on a 10-hour drive.  When you are afraid to disagree with them or constantly feel judged by them.  When you don’t trust them to keep a confidence or deal with you fairly.  When you avoid speaking to them at the staff Christmas party.  You get the point.  Lack of chemistry will kill a healthy team dynamic.

Competence
The big question here is, Is the candidate competent as a shepherd? Three of the areas we are particularly examining are:

o   Theology. Does the candidate have a good understating of basic systematic and biblical theology? Does the candidate have the tools and knowledge on using those tools to answer questions that may come their way?

o   Leadership. Is the candidate well respected by others in the church? Will others follow his leadership?

o   Gospel.  Does the candidate have a good understanding of the depth and breadth of the gospel? Is he able to counsel and teach others in every area of life through that gospel lens?

As you can see, the assessment is quite extensive. This is because the role of Elder in a local church is a serious and weighty matter. A New City Church Elder is a Pastor and pastoring a congregation is a great responsibility; it can be the hardest thing you have ever done, and it can be the most rewarding. You are receiving this letter because we believe that you are up to the task. The letter and invitation come with prayer – prayer for you, for your family, and for this process. It is an honor to serve with you and to have you entrust so much of your life to us through this process.

God Bless,

Pastor Keith,
on behalf of the New City Church, Macon Elder Team.

What If I Don't Want to Sing?

The struggle is REAL on Sunday mornings isn’t it? We stay out a little longer than anticipated on Saturday evenings. When the morning comes, it’s a frantic, frustrating rush to get everyone fed, groomed, and out of the door by a specific time. Or maybe we’ve had a particularly hard week with what is going on at work or with our family. Many times we need to hear and be reminded of the truths of the Gospel. Or, maybe others around us need to hear this good news! Here is a great article by Matt Damico on why we ought to sing on Sunday mornings. 

-Arthur


At our church, everyone shows up ready to sing with full hearts each Sunday morning. Nobody arrives after a tense car ride to church, or a difficult morning with children, or a late night of studying, or a long week of work. Everyone is well-rested and eager to make melody to God.

Except, not really. 

Each Sunday, a good portion of our churches gather for worship with genuine anticipation for singing, praying, and hearing the word. But not everyone. Life is too real, and the ancient fall of Genesis 3 is still too valid, to think nobody walks into church with scars, shame, or even cold apathy. 

But let’s be honest. Even the most stably enthusiastic in our gatherings have had Sundays when we wished our hearts burned more brightly. We experience an inner struggle in these moments. On the one hand, we know that we should sing because we’re at church. On the other, it’s good to be authentic and real, so it feels like a lie to sing when we don’t feel like it. Is it better to be honest and silent than an audible hypocrite? 

Of course, we don’t want to portray something false about ourselves. Nevertheless, we have at least two good reasons for us to open our mouths and lift our voices even when we don’t feel like it.

You Have the Voice Your Neighbor Needs

People in every congregation have no voice at times. They’re not singing, but not because they don’t want to. They’re weak and worn, and in that hour they can hardly speak, much less sing. Maybe it’s a young woman who can’t sing “It Is Well” because that Sunday marks one year since her mother’s death, or a young couple who can’t sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” a few days after another miscarriage. 

In God’s infinite love, he has not left these people alone. Instead, he has ordained for corporate worship to work not only vertically, but horizontally. In that moment, when the broken believer struggles to address God, we remember that God has told us to address one another with our songs (Ephesians 5:19).

When we don’t feel like singing, we have an opportunity to consider the interests of others and count them more significant than our own (Philippians 2:3–4). We have the privilege, in a way, to open our mouths for the mute (Proverbs 31:8). You may not want to sing, but the person next to you, in front of you, or behind you may need you to sing. The sight and sound of your singing may impress on them the truths of the gospel, or spur them to believe, with the psalmist, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you” (Psalm 63:3). 

The sight and sound of God’s people singing is a powerful, stirring exhortation for struggling hearts to believe the truths they hear sung around them. The next Sunday you’re inclined to keep quiet, remember your neighbors and sing their song.

Singing Bends Our Souls to God

Another reason to sing when we don’t feel like it is this: singing can be the best way to start feeling like it.

It is impossible for us to desire the right things all the time. Our wills and affections often lag behind our knowledge. I know I should exercise more, but the desire is sometimes absent. I know I should pray more, but my heart is often cold. Does that mean that when I do exercise or pray after some self-convincing, I’m not really exercising or praying? Of course not. It’s better to desire everything we ought, but we need not wait to feel rightly before we act rightly.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis articulates this with typical poignancy in regard to loving our neighbor when the desire isn’t there:

Though natural likings should normally be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to manufacture affectionate feelings. . . . The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets: When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.

So it is with our singing. Let’s not wait for our hearts to burn before we open our mouths. Opening our mouths can be an important part of kindling the fire.

This isn’t an up-by-the-bootstraps approach to corporate worship. Lifting your voice, when you’d rather not, can be an act of faith, believing that God’s word is true: “it is good to sing praises to our God” (Psalm 147:1). You may need to pray, “O Lord, open my lips” (Psalm 51:15), but before long, don’t be surprised to find your heart beginning to refill with thanks and praise.

Perhaps it will be this weekend. Another Sunday is coming when you will feel a cool disinterest toward the singing of the saints. When that happens, remember God’s promises, remember your neighbor, and remember what a privilege it is, and what a catalyst it can be, to sing to the one who has saved us.

Still Dreaming in Milledgeville

Buffingtons, where it all began. (photo by tripadvisor.com)

Buffingtons, where it all began. (photo by tripadvisor.com)

In the Summer of 2010 God opened several doors with New City Church which allowed us to focus in on planting our second New City Church, New City Church, Milledgeville.  We had been praying about Milledgeville, visiting Milledgeville and working with a couple of families and several students at GCSU toward a church plant there.  We all felt strongly that there was a great need for a gospel-centered church like New City there.

In the Fall of 2010 with a small core group of people and a big dream to see God change lives in Milledgeville, we launched!  Our first gatherings took place at Buffingtons, downtown.  That location was short-lived as it was evident that there wasn’t enough space for the many people coming to worship Jesus and hear the gospel.  New City Church Milledgeville was doing just what we dreamed.

Through those first years the church was deeply involved through our Missional Communities in the life of Milledgeville.  New City was an active part of seeing downtown Milledgeville’s revival. We served the city well by not only participating in many of the events in the downtown area, but also by serving. As we served and loved our city, the gospel continued to advance and the church continued to grow.

Through the years we have seen God do incredible things in the lives of people.  We have seen brokenness mended and marriages healed. We have seen many salvations and witnessed dozens of baptisms as people come to love and follow Jesus – just as we dreamed.

That dream isn’t over.  There is still a great many people who need to know the grace and mercy of God, who need to hear the beautiful message of redemption and restoration in Christ, people who need the gospel.

Andy has resigned. There is the loss of a pastor and a friend. Loss is difficult.
But the mission, the dream isn’t tied to that person. It is tied to the person and work of Jesus. It is tied to the countless people in Middle Georgia who still need Him. Because of this, we are committed to continue the work in Milledgeville, to roll up our sleeves and do the extra work of moving forward.

Patrick McConnell is shifting some of his Macon responsibilities to me and to others so that he can be much more involved weekly in Milledgeville.  He will begin leading the gospel charge in Milledgeville as the Interim Pastor immediately. While he lives in Macon, much of his time and attention will be in Milledgeville.  Patrick was already involved with Missional Community leaders and training in Milledgeville and will continue that role.  He has also began working with leaders to implement many of things discussed in Milledgeville’s Strategic Planning meetings for Sunday mornings. Patrick will share the preaching responsibilities in Milledgeville with Pastor Lawrence Robinson from Macon freeing Patrick up to be involved in many of those Sunday morning details.

We believe that there is still much to see God do in Milledgeville and we want to see it!

But we can’t do it without you guys.  We need your help to reach Milledgeville with the gospel – friends, family, coworkers, students… We need you to dream with us – to dream of what God might do in and through a people who truly desired to help others live in light of the gospel – to dream with us of what would change if the gospel really began to transform us, our church, our city and the world.

Then we need you to roll up your sleeves with us.
Join us in serving.  We need volunteers for set up and on Sunday morning for coffee, greeting, children’s ministry and music. We need MC Leaders and co-leaders. We need people who love Jesus and want to see Him known and are willing to pray, to give and to serve in order to see that happen.

Would you dream with us?
Would you join us in seeing the dream become a reality?
Would you let Patrick know that you are in?  Tell where you or how you can be a part of seeing the gospel transform Milledgeville and beyond.

A Day of Joy and Sadness

Today was a day of two extremes. In Macon we celebrated God's provision and a great new space. It is a day of joy. But in Milledgeville today is a day of sadness. Following the New City gathering in Milledgeville today, Pastor Andy Blankenship resigned from his position with New City.  On a personal level this has been tough. Andy has been a loyal friend. He has been a fellow laborer in the gospel. He has been with New City since 2012 but my relationship with Andy goes back to 2011 when we dreamed together about church planting. 

I love Andy, Mary Kathryn and the kids. I know that many of you do. I hope that you will join me in supporting and encouraging Andy and the family in their decision. I hope as well that you will pray for them in the days to come.  Below is Andy's resignation letter followed by a letter read to our Milledgeville Partners this afternoon.

Dear Partners,

Today I want to bring you all into a decision that will change the landscape of New City Milledgeville. After much fasting, prayer and weighing through personal conviction I have arrived at a place where I must resign from my post as the pastor of this church. This decision was most certainly not easy as I have a very deep and abiding love for you and the work Jesus has done and is doing in your lives. However, I am becoming increasingly more aware of burnout that mentally, emotionally and spiritually has taken its tole and the result has been poor care of some of you as well as myself. To continue in this capacity and pace of ministry with New City would ultimately not serve me or you well as it would result in a slow death for me and poor shepherding for you.

To say this is agonizing is putting it lightly. New City has been a huge part of my life for almost 6 years. However, despite the enormity of this Mary Kathryn and I have a deep peace from Jesus that this is the right decision to honor Him personally and to ultimately honor you. We love you very much and have considered our time here great evidence of God's grace to us both. We will always have fondness of memory and joy in our hearts at the thought of you and our time with New City. We will be praying earnestly for you and the leadership of New City in the days ahead of transition. We will always pray that the gospel would transform everything within your reach!

Because He Lives,
Andy


From the New City Elders:

Partners,

First and foremost, we are thankful for the work the Lord has been doing in Milledgeville through New City Church. It is your faithful service to the Lord where he has planted you, in your jobs, your neighborhoods, your families, that has seen the Gospel continue to redeem and change lives in Milledgeville and beyond. We remain excited to be a part of His work here with you.

We are also thankful for Pastor Andy’s commitment to Milledgeville and his shepherding of this New City congregation over the past several years. While we will miss Andy and his partnership in ministry here at New City, we are thankful that he has decided to take some time to re-center on his relationship with Jesus. The elders of New City love Andy, Mary Kathryn and their children and seek to minister to them as they take some time away from ministry. The Blankenship’s will be provided with a severance package that continues his salary until the end of May.  In addition, we would like to help Andy and maybe Mary Kathryn as well to work through some of the burn out that he has recently recognized. We ask that you continue to pray for the Blankenships during this time of renewal and pray for New City Milledgeville as we continue on in ministry.

Moving forward, we believe that the Lord is still very much at work in Milledgeville through New City, and we are excited to continue working alongside you. Beginning today, Pastor Patrick McConnell will assume the role as Interim Pastor of New City Milledgeville. Patrick has served for the past two years as the Community and Family Pastor in Macon. He has been very involved with the MC Leaders in Milledgeville over the past year.  Having shifted several Macon responsibilities away from Patrick over the past week will allow Patrick to become the Pastor for MCs in Milledgeville and begin to work with Sunday morning leaders including Chris Brett as well.  Patrick and Pastor Lawrence Robinson will be splitting preaching time.

Andy’s resignation came suddenly for us. It will obviously mean change in a lot of areas. We are still working through much of that as Elders. We covet your prayers and support for Andy and his family and we covet your prayers and support for us and for one another as we continue to take next steps in the great mission that God has called each of us to in Milledgeville.

We know that you guys will have a lot of questions.  We want to answer them. At the same time we want to respect Andy’s privacy and we want to honor him and his family and the great ministry that has taken place over these last years that he served here. We love them. This means that there may be some questions that just aren’t necessary to answer.  If you do have questions, please feel free to reach out to me or one of our elders via email,
(first name)@newcitymacon.org. 

God Bless,
Keith

Our Identity in Jesus

The other day my wife Marilyn blessed me by buying me some new work boots.  For those of you who don’t know me I am always doing something.  I am almost always doing something whether working in the yard or on some project.  This has been my practice for years.  Several years ago Marilyn bought me a really nice comfortable pair of work boots. I have worn them so much so that they are worn out.  When I tried on the new pair of work boots they fitted nicely and they looked good. As I began to focus on how they looked I was thinking about not working in them but wearing them with my jeans and other casual clothes.  They made me look fashionable and manly.  Then I got to thinking that if I just wear them to look good I would still need another pair of work boots because I still have lots of work to do.  Then it hit me!  Some of us view our identity in Jesus much the same way as I was viewing the use of my work boots.  This identity that we have in Jesus is a working identity.  It is not the kind of identity that God gave us just to make us look good.  It is the type of identity that allows us to glorify our Savior as we live for Him and serve Him.  Our identity is given us for the purpose of building the kingdom.  That sounds like work to me! Unfortunately some of us, by way of practice, have taken our identity in Jesus to make ourselves look good.  Think about the life that Christ to which has called us.  He called us to a life of worship.  We worship Him in words of thanksgiving and songs of praise.  We worship Him by the way in which we walk in obedience and live out our identity in Him.  He called us to a life on mission.  We reach out to others and use all things given us by Jesus to bring loss sinners to Christ.  He called us to the work of discipleship whereby we nurture and train others to become transformed into the image of Jesus.  He called us to a life of intercession whereby through prayer we constantly intercede on behalf of our nation, state, communities, families and the people around us so that our Savior might accomplish His will through His people in the environment where He placed us (get this) to work.  He’s called us to community whereby we connect with each other in such a way that the world would know that we are His disciples by the love we show for one another.  He’s called us to a life of service and gave each one of us at least one spiritual gift to contribute to the edification of the body.  There is still more but you get the picture.  From what I see this new identity we have in Jesus that we call Christianity is a working identity.  Jesus said this in Matthew 5:16.  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  It seems to me that the light He made us to be, shines bright as we work from Him, for Him, through the strength that He supplies.  Our identity in Jesus is a working Identity.  We don’t have to work to receive His love, forgiveness or mercy.  He gives that to us unconditionally and so much more.   Jesus also said this in John 9:4. “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” 

Work boots are designed for working. They are good for digging in the yard and building things. They are good for working in bad weather and rugged environments.  Work boots are designed for just that, working!  Our identity in Christ Jesus is a glorious, beautiful, working identity that God gave us for building the kingdom, working in rugged and adverse environments. It does make us look good as we walk in it as we should but in reality it is a working identity.  Therefore instead of just trying to look good and even be good, (those are important too), we must be about the mission of reaching the loss, discipling the saved, worshipping our Father & Savior, and fulfilling the work to which Christ has called all of us.  Jesus gave us this wonderful understanding about this working identity we have in Him.  He said this through our brother Paul in Ephesians 2:10. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  So as you have put on Christ Jesus, Get To Work!

What Do You Think?
Rev. Lawrence Robinson

It's Hard but It's True: A look at the underlying problems that adversely affect African Americans

I am a man greatly torn on the inside.  My heart has been very heavy over the last few years.  My grief is for my people, African Americans.  Why am I grieved? I am grieved because from my perspective (which could be narrow) my people are not faring well in life.  It is true that many African Americans do well and will continue to do so.  However, statistically speaking and if we stay on our present course, we will see a major demise in the quality and character of people in our culture in all aspects of society. 

One reason for such a downturn, from this black man’s perspective, is that we refuse to look at the real underlying problems that adversely affect our community and address them.  We’ve cited high unemployment as a problem.  We’ve cited a new rise in racism as a problem.  We’ve cited lack of funding for our communities and education.  We’ve looked at the low achievement of our people in the education system.  We’ve even cited the failure of our government to understand our needs and to be proactive in addressing our needs.  I did not mention the waves of murders of our young black men or the failure of African Americans to be active in the political process.   While the list of issues is quite extensive, it is my belief that all of the aforementioned and others are simply manifestations of the underlying problems that has birthed most of the ills concerning us. 

Firstly, let’s establish what an underlying problem is.  An underlying problem is a problem that gives birth to other problems.  Let’s take the problems associated with single parenting for an example.  Statistically speaking, when a child is born to a single parent that parent becomes poorer because she is now living for two.  Let’s say that this child is born to a teen mother whose daddy is irresponsible.  She now has to get government assistance to help her feed her child, to provide medical care, day care, and the like.  As the child grows up and the father is absent the mother struggles and she is unavailable to the child as parents should be, because she is trying to carve out a living.  In situations like this it is not uncommon for a woman to turn to another man for help because she is trying to make it.  Before she knows it she is pregnant again.  All we have to do from this point on is to look at the many negative statistics caused by angry children particularly from families with absentee fathers.  On a problem like this, if we state the hard truth, we can’t blame white people for the pregnancy.  We can’t blame white people for the irresponsible father.   We cannot even blame republicans for cutting back on entitlement programs. The underlying problem is that there was an absence of morality on the part of the mother and father of the child. 

The solution for us as a people would be to teach and emphasize what is morally right regarding sexuality.  We must address the importance of abstinence.  We must greatly, greatly, emphasize the importance of family and having both mother and father raising their children.  We must get away from glorifying “my baby’s daddy” or “my baby’s momma.” Now here is the real problem in this example as well as some of the others that will be presented later.  An issue like this is addressed in the Bible.  For this argument I realize that not everyone has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  However the principles that God set forth for living life works whether you are a Christian or not

In this same example if that young lady and young man had abstained, her situation would be different.  Her opportunities to advance would have been easier.  We would not have an angry or irresponsible child.  We certainly would not have the second child.  Society would benefit because the young lady would have a better chance to become a contributor to society.  The chances that her children would repeat the cycle is eliminated because there are no illegitimate children and no single parenting.  All of the adverse issues that she would encounter and that could promote other adverse issues are eliminated simply because she practiced abstinence.  In this case the underlying problem is his and her immorality.  Our reactions to a situation such as this would be to focus most of our energies and resources on the problems that are the “children,” the consequences of the underlying problem.  This is one of the main reasons why we continue to struggle.

I am not advocating ignoring the “children” of the underlying problems.   I am advocating for us to start dealing with the underlying problems that are giving birth to many of the major ills in our culture and communities.  If we are willing to do this, I have no doubt that we can turn things around.

What I will express in these writings is hard but it’s true.  This journey for real change that I am embarking on in no way diminishes the efforts that have been put forth and are now being put forth for change and improvement.  My goal is three-fold:  1) To reveal the fact that we’ve been working on the symptoms of our problems and not the real issues;  2) To put forth the underlying issues in our culture that give birth to the many other ills that do not promote the wellbeing and success of our people.  I do not want to simply put forth these issues for conversation.  3) To offer viable and attainable solutions that will help unite us as a people, give us hope, give us direction, empower our future, and greatly diminish a large portion of these ills. 

In the next blog I will identify what I feel is the number one underlying problem that hinders the progress of the African American community.  It is the problem for which many of us are culpable.

What do you think?

Reverend Lawrence Robinson

 

 

 

EXPOSED BY THE MISSION

In a recent conversation about 'Life on Mission', we explored what that could look like and some of the reasons we try to push it away. Jeff Vanderstelt does a great job at exploring the importance of living on mission in community, as well as some of the reasons why we try to excuse it away.


Yes, we can pretend to have it all together while sitting in a pew on Sunday or while impressing one another with our knowledge of Scripture. But mission exposes our inadequacies and need for grace.

If you are in a small Bible study group, one of the best things you could do is move the study out into the neighborhood. When you read a command in Scripture, ask, “How are we going to obey this command together on mission?” In other words, ask yourselves what this passage says you should do together (life in community) and how you might do it in the middle of a mission held together (life on mission).

Doing this will bring up all sorts of opportunities for discipleship: excuses will be expressed, fears acknowledged, lack of confidence or courage realized, and inadequacies verbalized. Then you’ll be getting somewhere in terms of people’s discipleship.

In this process, you will discover the truth about everyone’s present state. When you actually get out of the comfort of your Christian community and onto the streets of mission (in your neighborhood, at a café, in the park, or at a local high school), you will discover together where everyone still needs to be discipled. The junk will come out, and then you will be able to disciple one another in the everyday stuff of life.

I was surprised by this on my first mission trip, but after a few of them, I knew it was coming. Soon, a part of me began to hate taking mission trips because I knew things would get bad—we would fall apart and we would be seen as needy.

Yet that was why I continued to lead them. Such brokenness has to happen if real discipleship is going to take place.

Sometimes I wonder if this exposure is why Christians avoid getting on the mission of making disciples together in the stuff of everyday life. We know we will be exposed. We will be seen for the needy, desperate people we really are. Our junk will come to the surface. Yes, we can hide and pretend to have it all together while sitting in a large gathering on Sunday or while impressing one another with our knowledge of Scripture in a weekly Bible study. But out on mission, the need for grace and power from God will never be more clearly manifested.

That’s exactly what we need. We need to see and know our need for Jesus. We need to see and know others’ need for Jesus. Then we need to give one another the truths of Jesus to change us, empower us, and allow His Spirit to work through us effectively. We also need to experience God using weak, tired, and broken people to do amazing work.

This happened in the early church as well. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told His disciples to wait for power from God—the Spirit of God was going to come upon them and empower them for the work (Acts 1:8). The disciples were sent out with God’s power and presence with and by His Spirit. They faced persecution. Many died for their faith. They lost possessions and family members. Many messed up and grew in the grace of Jesus as a result. And they grew in their love for one another, their devotion to obey God’s Word, their prayerful dependence on God, and the powerful proclamation of the gospel. They all grew while on mission (Acts 2:42–47).

The mission revealed their need and required God’s help!

I’m amazed at how often Christians want to experience the presence and power of God apart from the mission of God. I’m also surprised at how many people believe they can grow people up toward maturity in Christ apart from getting them involved in the mission of making disciples.

This stuff can’t happen in a classroom. It does not happen in one-on-one meetings. And it does not happen if we just hang out together as Christians all the time. We have to get out on mission to fulfill the mission of being disciples who make disciples.

I used to think we should take people out on mission trips once or twice a year. Now I’m convinced we need to help people see they are on mission all the time.

Unfortunately, many disciples of Jesus don’t get beyond seeing church as just attending an event on Sunday or Wednesday or doing a Bible study together. They are not experiencing what it means to be on mission together in the everyday stuff of life. So they live with the facade that everything is OK. On the surface, they look as if they are all in for Jesus. But brokenness, pride, insecurity, and selfishness are all there under the surface.

(taken from Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life.)

 

New Address, Same Mission

In the next couple of weeks we will be holding the first service in our new space.  The building is shaping up to be quite beautiful and really amazing. It is the start of a new chapter for New City. We will no longer be sharing our space with various businesses and other organizations. It's ours.

With the move comes a great danger. The danger is that we settle into our beautiful new building and become comfortable. I am praying even as I type that this doesn't happen. I am praying that we not forget the great task that the church has been called to and the great joy that comes in working to fulfill it. God has called us to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel in every area of life - proclaim it to ourselves, to our church, to our city and to the world.  This is why we are here.

This week our new doors were installed on the church's main level. Many, many people will hopefully walk through those doors. As I considered what we might do with the space above the doors it hit me, that blank space could serve as a reminder to us - a reminder that there is much to be done. So, I gathered scraps of woods, measured, cut and began installing the Jerusalem Cross. The Jerusalem Cross is made up of five crosses. The center and largest cross represents the Good News of Jesus Christ. The four crosses surrounding it represent the four corners of the world. The Jerusalem cross is a reminder that we have been called to herald the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the world.

I am praying that more than ever New City Church proclaims the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I am praying that God would do far more than we have imagined in and through New City Church - that we would be influencers on our city and beyond. I am praying that God would raise up and send out missionaries and church planters and pastors. And I am praying that we might all see as we enter and leave, that the mission of Jesus isn't just for "specialists" and the ordained, but for everyone who believes.

May we more mindful now than ever before of the great mission of the cross, and may we be ever more involved in the gospel reaching the ends of the earth!

Pop Culture Catechism, (Part 1)

Recently, I have been having conversations with one of my children about the differences between fiction and reality. This has led to poignant conversations about themes from a cartoon called Max Steel. Our conversations have spanned topics such as fostering/adoption, morality, and Jesus. I've used some of the direction in our conversations from the following article. As we head into the Christmas season, our kids will most likely be bombarded with Christmas-themed stories. Take a moment to read Derek Heibert's article below and don't let an easy opportunity to shape your children's thinking pass you by.

Patrick

Your kids need to see how the story of Jesus’s redemption is distinct, unique, better, and greater.

Taking stories from popular culture—especially movies—and relating them to the story of the gospel is one of the best forms of catechism. (By catechism, I mean that process of training a young person in the biblical story and core truths of the gospel.) Here is why pop culture stories are helpful in this process:

First, the entertainment industry is delivering stories to us by the truckloads. Unless you live in an Amish community, chances are your children and those in your church are engaging these stories on film at least on a weekly basis, or they are hearing about them from their peers. As parents, we should be intentional about how we use these pop-culture stories to train our kids in the Christian faith.

Second, we might as well enjoy the fact that we have such a thing as stories and appreciate them as the natural outgrowth of humanity and culture. The human ability to create stories is one of the benefits of being created in the image of the storyteller God, who invented the whole idea of story. Every human being, young and old, naturally loves stories. In light of this, we should not dismiss or escape them but engage them well for the sake of discipleship.

Third, stories from pop culture are always exploring important questions and ideas. Most good stories, whether a movie, TV show, or book, are created not merely for entertainment but for teaching. They are telling their story to say something meaningful and significant about life, about the world. Much like Jesus’s parables, the authors of these stories have an agenda: They are telling their stories in such a way to ask thought-provoking questions and offer ideas to those questions. In light of this, it is important to become skillful in understanding how stories work, what to look for in their question-asking and ideas, and how to compare and contrast them best with the biblical story.

Here is a three-step method I seek to practice in our household:

Step 1: Before the Movie

First, ensure you know the essential storyline of the Bible: Creation—Fall—Redemption—New Creation. This storyline is found more or less in every story common to humanity. Others may use different words, but the core movement of this plot is the foundation of every story.

Creation (beginning): God creates a perfect humanity and world to be in close relationship with him.

Fall (problem/conflict): Humans do not trust God’s goodness and love. As a result, they rebel and set into motion a death-curse of decay and brokenness that affects every human and all of creation. Death, not good and perfect everlasting life, is now the reality.

Redemption (solution): God in Christ comes to redeem and forgive, reversing the curse and recreating a new humanity. As the hero, he achieves this victory at great cost to Himself and by the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. Those who believe this story are brought into this new life and future.

New Creation (“happily ever after”): God recreates the entire universe into a “new heavens and new earth” that can never die. He and his new humanity are united forever in perfect relationship.

Prepare your kids for the conversation before the movie starts. Let your kids know you’d like to have a short conversation with them after the movie. Encourage them to look for, if possible, these main parts of the story:

Creation: The beginning of the story. What does life look like in terms of the characters’ family and community? What does the story say, if anything, about the origins of life?

Fall: What the main problem is in the story. With what do the characters come into conflict?

Redemption: The hero’s solution to the main problem in the story. Who is the main hero, and how does he or she solve the problem?

New Creation: What everyone experiences now because of the hero’s solution. What is the “happily-ever-after” ending of the story? (“Happily-ever-after” may be more useful language to use with children, depending on their ages.)

 

Step 2: During the Movie

As you watch the story unfold in the movie, be on the lookout for the Creation—Fall—Redemption—New Creation themes played out through the main character—who typically is the hero—and the situations in which he or she finds himself or herself. The most important themes in every story are the main problem, the hero, and their solution to the problem. No good story exists without a clear picture of these themes. Then think through how this compares and contrasts to God’s storyline in the Bible.

Step 3: After the Movie

Ask your kids what they thought was the Creation—Fall—Redemption—New Creation themes in the story. Then do step two with them, helping them connect the biblical storyline with specific details of the movie storyline. Help them to contrast the story of the movie with the Story of God, pinpointing the difference between Jesus as our true Hero with His solution to our problem of sin, and the hero and solution offered in the movie’s story.

Comparing and contrasting the Hero Jesus with the hero of the movie’s story is the most powerful part of this process. Your kids need to see how distinct, unique, better, and greater the story of Jesus’s redemption is compared to pop cultural stories. When lining up any story with the true Story of the Bible culminating in our redemption, that story is ultimately shown to pale in comparison because it fails to solve the most universal problem of humanity and the whole world: sin and its brokenness. Furthermore, most stories will tell of a hero who saves the day through personal strength, ingenuity, or some kind of magic. The biblical story, however, is unique and compelling because it offers us an upside-down example of a hero, one that is so counter-intuitive to what we usually imagine in this world: a hero who wins through weakness, self-giving love, suffering, and ultimately death. The Hero Jesus then achieves total victory over sin and death through His resurrection by the power of God.

In part two of this series, I will provide an example of how to do this engaging a recent family movie.