A Story of Multiplication

When my wife and I lived in the Dominican Republic we developed relationships with several long-term missionaries there. In many places, missionaries come and go often; sometimes only for a couple of months at a time. This takes a toll on the long-term missionaries there because they develop family and share life with people only to see them leave months/years later. Even though people are leaving to go where God leads them, it is still difficult to see them go.

Multiplication within missional communities, much like relationships within foreign missions, is difficult and messy on nearly every level. It takes energy, emotion, and relationship. Ultimately, it means some of your dearest friends and those you have invested in the most leave you for something else. Despite this, we step into multiplication because the gospel is worth it and Jesus commands us to go and make disciples. For all of its difficulty, the sending of new communities is an incredible apologetic for the gospel to others. Brad Watson, equipping leader with Saturate, says in regards to planting new MC's that, "sending new people out means an increase in gospel demonstration and proclamation."

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Multiplying missional communities requires multiplying leaders. The process of new MC's beginning in new neighborhoods begins with two or three leaders with a deep love for Jesus (who He is and what He has done) and a track record and/or desire for service (people who are leveraging their lives for others and the gospel).

Let me share a story with you. The Crosby MC began in 2016 with a small group of people willing to step into leadership and a vision for reaching the lost. With around 20 people in their community, they began to share life together; eat together, play together, and love together. This group began to grow and see more and more people come into their family. This meant more and more people were learning the truth of the gospel and seeing that truth transform their lives. This group grew to around 40 people within a years time. The Peek MC was planted from this group. Then, not long after, the Warner Robins MC and the Tattnall Square Park MC were planted. This month, the Peek MC has planted another MC. 

From that seemingly small beginning, we have seen five Missional Communities planted. Think about it this way: in 2016 there were 10 people in one MC and now in 2018 there are roughly 100 people in five separate but still connected MC's. This is now five groups doing mission in different places throughout Macon rather than only one group. Some are in their neighborhoods, others are in parks, while others are on mission to the businesses of downtown Macon. This is now five MC's who have space to invite outsiders into their homes, lives, and families rather than one. This is multiplication. This is gospel advancement. This is Kingdom work.

People are encountering Jesus for the first time. God is bringing His people back to Himself. He is redeeming and restoring what has been broken. Now is the time. Let's embrace our God-given identity and live as a family of missionary servants making disciples. Put your "yes" on the table and let's plant more Missional Communities and reach more people with the gospel of Jesus. Would you be willing to lead or host an MC? If so, let us know here. Do you want to go through our training this Fall to get a better idea of what it would look like for you to help lead? Email me. Multiplication is hard and messy at times but the reward is great!

Its Time to End Our Double Lives

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I don't know when or where it happened, what led to the place we find ourselves now. We are tired, stretched thin and always busy with stuff...
Our life is full - dating, school, spouse, children, sports, hobbies, WORK.
There is hardly enough time for it all. It is really exhausting. By the end of the week we just really need some rest - some "me" time, some family time.
Still we find time for our religious life - we carve out time - a Sunday morning here and there, a week night for our "small group," some occasional reading. It is tough to balance our religious life when there is so much of the rest of our lives.

Life was never meant to be like this and yet it is. We find ourselves exhausted and we struggle to find the time to "do" the Christian life. 
We want to.  We hear the call to serve, the call to be a part of God's great mission.
We feel certain that we should.
But when?  How? We can't possibly add another thing to our already chaotic life.
We find ourselves divided. And this is no small divide, the sacred and the secular.
The sacred is our religious life, the secular is everything else - work, school, friends, kids...

Somewhere along the way of Christianity we lost our way. The problem isn't that we somewhere got too busy. It isn't that we necessarily do too much. In fact we were meant to work hard, play hard and enjoy much! We were meant to live full lives - the kind of life that calls for rest. That's not the problem.
No, the problem is not the busyness. The problem is the divide.  God never intended for our lives to be divided. He never intended us to have sacred lives disconnected from our secular lives. We are meant for both - not individually - but inseparably, both as one.

In practice, we have divided life into all sorts of segments - our 9 to 5 job, our home life with spouse and kids, our "me" time, and Sunday is for our Christian life. This is the problem! We are not doctors who are Christian or mechanics who are Christian or moms and dads who are Christian, as though we are first and foremost something plus Christian.
No, we are Christians who are doctors, mechanics, moms, dads, students... We don't stop being Christian when we go to our job or gather with friends - we are Christians, if we are followers of Christ, always. In fact, the apostle Paul says in II Corinthians 5 that when we come to believe in Jesus, we are not just forgiven of sin, we are made new creations - the old is gone and we are new. He calls us, in this new life, Ambassadors of Christ.  An Ambassador is someone who represents another person. We represent Jesus. So we are Ambassadors of Christ as we go to work or to school or play ball with the kids. We are ambassadors of Christ when we hang out with friends or serve in the community.
This new identity isn't simply something that we add to our already busy (secular) life - it is who we are in Christ (sacred). 

The truth is that there is no divide for us as followers of Christ. All of our life is meant to be sacred. This means we don't add religious things to an already busy life, but that all of our busy life is religious. Sunday is really no more sacred than Monday!  And Monday through Friday are equally sacred as we live like Christ in the places we work, study and play. We don't add mission to our life, mission is the life we are called to "as we go" about our sacred everyday life. We don't add religious works and duties to our post-work life; they are every part of our everyday life as we do all things for the glory of God and work as unto the Lord.

This is freeing, if you stop for a moment to think about it.
Its freeing in the sense that God isn't expecting me to add a bunch of stuff to my life. God isn't requiring me to give up all of my kids' sporting activities nor is He angry because I play golf every now and then. Its freeing because I don't have to try to balance life - the sacred and the secular. I'm free to live - to work, to play, to enjoy life to its fullest - only with intention. I live it all as an ambassador of Christ. I live it all as a missionary. I live it all for His glory.
No more confusion.
No more double life.
I am a Christian pastor, a Christian crossfitter, a Christian biker, a Christian friend, a Christian community leader, a Christian dad, a Christian husband - for the glory of God and the good of people, always.

You Are Sent

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If you have been with us these past few Sundays, you may have noticed something different at the end of our gathered worship. Instead of saying “You are dismissed” we began saying, “You are sent.” Why the change? Does that even matter? Should I really read this blog over this tiny change where in which I’m usually just focused on what I’m going to eat for lunch? The answer is a resounding Yes! It does matter!

Every Sunday at New City we gather with our church family to be reminded and encouraged by the Gospel. We sing the gospel. We hear the gospel. We preach the gospel. This is a gloriously crucial time in our week. It opens our eyes to God’s big story and how our lives, our stories, are part of that story. 

Let’s face it, we are a forgetful people. I’m lucky if I remember what I did yesterday! We need to be continually reminded of the saving grace of Jesus that impacts every area of our lives. God in His sovereignty created all things and called it good. We rebelled and sought our own glory. Because of this rebellion we deserved punishment, we deserved death. Yet, in love and kindness Jesus took on flesh and lived the perfect life we never could, died and took the punishment of the cross and God’s wrath we so rightly deserved, and rose to life so we could be transformed and made right with the Father. Now, He calls us His own.Think about it: we were sworn enemies, deserving of God’s wrath, and He extends His hand of grace and mercy through Jesus to be called sons and daughters. He gives us a completely new identity, calling us to go and spread this good news.

“You are sent” is said at the end of service as reminder that in Christ we are a new creations and in Christ we are transformed and given the identity of missionary. If you are a believer, you are called to spread the gospel in every part of your life…when your at home with the family, when your at work, when your out with friends. There is no part of your life that isn’t affected by the gospel. Remember, you are completely, fully transformed. You are an ambassador for Christ. You are sent. 

 - inspired by Designed to Lead by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck

Same Message, Different Methods

I grew up in a family of six and my older brother and I were only two years apart from each other. We are very close now but growing up we fought like cats and dogs. Sometimes my parents would disciple us separate from each other and I remember getting upset because it seemed like I got punished differently than my brother. I would complain that it wasn’t fair and that they loved my brother more than me. As I’ve grown older, I’ve began to see that my parents weren’t showing favoritism but rather they were disciplining us with the same goal in mind, just with different means because my brother and I have unique personalities that receive discipline in different ways.

This truth applies well to the work of evangelism. As Christians, we must affirm the message of the gospel and that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation is true and unchanging. As for methods of evangelism, they can be fluid and change over time. For example, there is the confrontational type where the individual is forthright and urgent in sharing the message of the gospel. There is also the relational type in which someone wants to be hospitable and warm and build a relationship prior to sharing the gospel. Maybe consider the service style of evangelism where someone sees a felt lead and enters in empathetically, meets that need, and then proceeds to share the gospel message. All of these are right and true and appropriate because in all three cases they are trying to emulate Christ in all they do and proclaim the gospel message to a lost and dying world.

So for us, we must be genuinely interested in our neighbors, co-workers, classmates, roommates, friends, and family members to get to know them, their stories, their personalities and then adapt our method of sharing to that individual situation. For example, if your neighbor is an astrophysicist you know that she is highly intelligent and you may want to approach your evangelistic efforts with more of an intellectual approach. What about your co-worker who comes from a Middle Eastern country that is very big on hospitality? What you can do is invite him into your home, around your table, to eat with your family because it is through that that he will be open to receive the gospel message you have to proclaim to him.

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Again, let me affirm that the message of the gospel is never-changing but the method of sharing the gospel is ever-changing. The reality is this, as Tim Keller said, “there are some needs only you can see. There are some hands only you can hold. There are some people only you can reach.” The command, privilege, and joy of sharing the gospel is yours and mine. You can reach different people with the gospel than I would ever be able to reach. How amazing is it that God has invited all of us into His Story to play a part in redemption and restoration? It truly is a great joy to play a part in God’s Story! Are you sharing the gospel with those around you? Do you need help learning how to share the gospel? I’ve tagged some resources below to help you get started.

Change the World With Me

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It only takes 6 weeks to form a new habit. Some say it only takes 21 days.
There may not be agreement on how long it takes to form a new habit, but there is agreement that habits can be formed in a relatively short period of time. The same is true for breaking old habits.

I am being challenged.
I recently picked up a copy of The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life. I haven’t been able to put it down. Clearly from the title, the book is a call for followers of Christ to practice biblical hospitality for the sake of the gospel. The authors define biblical hospitality in this way:
“At its core, the practice of biblical hospitality is obeying the command in Romans 15:7 to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.” It’s receiving others into our lives—into relationship and, yes, even into our homes. It welcomes Christians as a way to walk in the truth that we’ve been made family through the gospel, and it welcomes non-Christians in an attempt to model and extend the gracious invitation we’ve received from God in Christ.”

I have believed that the gospel is best communicated through ongoing relationships. That seems to be one of the primary means that the gospel spread so quickly in Christianity’s infancy. It is in keeping, I believe with Jesus’s teaching of the disciples in Matthew 28, “As you go, make disciples.” As you go about life, as you go to work, as you go to school, as you go to your child’s ball game, as you go about the normal rhythms of your life, make disciples. New City Church has preached this from our first days. I’ve practiced it, to some degree. But not so much at home.

Home has been my sanctuary – my place of safety and a refuge. Apparently, I am not alone in this view of home. In chapter 3 the authors list 4 “cultural currents” (trends) that describe our view of home:
isolation – our home is our private get away. It is where we go to separate from people;
relaxation – our home is a place for us to kick back, veg out, unwind and recharge;
entertainment – our home is a place to binge watch Netflix, scroll through social media and play games;
busyness – life is filled with work and play and children causing us to constantly be on the go, so much so that there is no time for home and certainly not for hospitality.
Do any (or all) of those describe you? This isn’t how it was meant to be, how it should be, and thus my being challenged.

This isn’t just a fad, “everyone’s doing hospitality now.” It isn’t just a rule, “thou shalt have people over.” It is a picture of the hospitality that God has shown to us from the garden to this day. In the garden, God not only provided a beautiful place for Adam and Eve to be and amazing food for them to eat, but He came to them in the cool of the day, spending time with them. With Israel He was with them in the cloud and fire, eventually making His home with them in the temple. Jesus is God with us! He came in the flesh to serve His people, to walk with them, care for them and provide for them – for us. Even now He provides for us in His indwelling Spirit – God is still with us! The gospel itself is God providing hospitality - all that we need to be with Him; it is Him providing, caring for and loving us. The authors wrote of this connection, “When we invite into our homes and lives those who are far from God, essentially we say to them, God loves you and He hasn’t given up on you. We present that message with our actions before we even get a chance to share the gospel with our words. If we are truly God’s ambassadors, as Paul called us in 2 Corinthians 5:20,2 then when we open our doors to a non-Christian, it is as if God Himself is opening His door. When Christians practice this simple action repeatedly, it changes the world.”

I like that – the idea that you and I can be a part of changing the world. I like the thought of my home and life at home pointing people to a God who loves them deeply and to His Son who has given so much for them. I want that.
But it is not my habit.
My habit is to see my home as a private get away from the world and people, a place for me to relax, recharge and be entertained. My habit is a busy life with little room for hospitality. I am confessing.

They say it only takes 6 weeks to form a habit.
So I will see. Maybe it will only take 21 days. I’m going to try.
“You won’t accidentally fall or stumble into changing the world through biblical hospitality… If you do nothing, you will continue to think the same way you always have and do the same things you’ve always done. Maybe a simple movement against the current becomes a way of life that leads to seeing lives and neighborhoods transformed.”

First I’m going to finish this amazing book!  You can pick up a copy and join me. It is a great read and incredibly practical.

I’m going to get a copy for Amy and get her reading.

I’m going to schedule with her a night – maybe just twice a month for now (it’s a start!) to open our home for hospitality.

I’m going to invite people around me to dinner. I’m going to be a friend. I’m going to listen. And when I am able I will share with them how good Jesus has been to me, how he has loved me and how he loves them.

I’m praying now for those who might come. I’m praying that this will become a beautiful habit for me. And I praying that maybe it would become a habit for you as well.

Our Growing Student Ministry!

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Upcoming 6th Graders, you are invited to join the Student MC this Summer! Here are the dates that we will meet: 

June 10 - Student MC 5:30-7:00
June 24/25 - Sermon Notebook Decorating Girl’s Night/Guys Night
July 7 - Pool Party 11:00-2:00
July 8 - Student MC 5:30-7:00
July 29 - Student MC

We are very excited about this next year in New City’s Student Ministry. A number of 5th graders will be moving up to 6th grade. We will just about double the number of students we have now. Guys, that’s a lot!!! What an awesome opportunity to partner with parents in helping raise their students into the men and women God created them to be. 

With that being said, We Need HELP!!! With the increased number of students, we need more leaders to serve our students and invest in this next generation. The role is not just for college students, it is for the church too! They need leaders of all ages who model faith in a variety of life stages. Take a few minutes to read the article below. If you have a heart for students and seeing lives changed by the gospel, would you pray and consider serving our students??

Please email Arthur Lin at arthur@newcitymacon.org if you are at all interested! 


Most of us have an image in our minds of the ideal youth leader. Maybe when you think about youth ministry in your church, you imagine the cool college student or the attractive young married couple as best suited to spend time with teenagers. But raising our young people in the faith is meant to be a shared calling among all of God’s people.

If younger Christians are to imitate the faith of their leaders, they will need more than one type of adult in their lives to model faith in a range of callings. This means we may need to re-envision our ideas about what constitutes the ideal youth leader.

Here are five leaders I’m always hoping to recruit for our youth ministry team

1. The Parent of a Current Student

It’s difficult to imagine youth leaders with more skin in the game than parents of current students. Parents are already the most significant spiritual influence in their children’s lives. They have ready access to their children’s peers, making them effective at contact work. They’re also able to identify immediate needs, since their children are personally affected.

Youth workers should ensure that parental participation will be a good fit for the parents’ own teenagers. I always ask those interested in serving with youth to find out how their children feel before signing on. At the middle-school level, it often works well to have parents serve with their own kids. In high school, though, consider how to give older students space to be vulnerable and to wrestle with big faith questions. If your church is large enough to have small groups for different ages and genders, a parent might lead a group other than their child’s. The parent will then be able to come alongside other youth while still participating in their own child’s world.

Several dads at my church have opted to keep serving with middle schoolers once their children have moved up. They minister beautifully to many students while staying connected to the broader ministry.

2. The Stay-at-Home Parent

Parents who stay at home with their kids make some of the best, most nurturing youth leaders. If their children are school-aged, they may also have capacity to help with administrative tasks, event planning, and contact work with students. Those with younger children often relish the opportunity to interact with a different age group.

One young mom in our church serves on our high-school team. Sometimes she brings her preschoolers along to special events, allowing students to see what it looks like to honor Christ as a busy mom. Other parents have given 10 or more hours per week just to help me—a huge gift of time.

3. The Recent Empty-Nester

The recent empty-nester can be one of the most high-capacity youth leaders. These are the movers and shakers in our ministry. They’ve “launched” their own kids, giving them loads of parenting wisdom from which to draw. Because they tend to be busy professionals and even leaders in their organizations, a youth worker might have to meet with them at 6 a.m., but those early-morning breakfast meetings are well worth the investment.

The recent empty-nester might require a little extra wooing. This age group is sometimes the most intimidated by teenagers, imagining that students won’t relate to them. Youth workers will have to be especially winsome in their assurances that “warm is the new cool.” The recent empty-nester can provide invaluable vision and experience.

4. The Grandparent Figure

Older adults are often overlooked as potential youth leaders, but this shouldn’t be. Deuteronomy 32:7 urges younger people to seek the wisdom and experience of older generations in the community. Older adults generally have time to give—in addition to wisdom. If they have grandkids (or nieces and nephews), they may already be pros at relating to younger people. Certain youth group games may not be up their alley, but their capacity to love and care for students is always a win.

We have a grandparent figure on our middle-school team who often plans hiking and bike outings for students, sharing his love for the outdoors. He has mentored one student well beyond middle school, teaching him important life skills and talking about the faith. An older married couple on our high-school team has shared vulnerably with students about recent health struggles. Our high schoolers adore this precious couple and frequently list them first when we ask for prayer concerns.

5. The Single Person

It’s tempting to fill our teams with married couples or individuals with parenting experience, but don’t neglect single people in your church. Whether young professionals or older adults, singles often have time, energy, and care to give. Their independence often makes it simpler for them to spend time with students outside of youth ministry programs, and they can demonstrate the familial nature of the church in beautiful ways.

Our students are single, and they need to see others walking with Christ in the calling to be single. By actively recruiting singles to serve, we show students that both marriage and singleness are good gifts from God (1 Cor. 7).

Youth workers should note that single people in your ministry will often appreciate time to process their experiences with you. They will likely expend significant energy on behalf of students, and they may need more support from a youth worker. These relationships are among the most life-giving for me, since single leaders are often more available to spend time praying for our students and discussing ministry needs.

The call to befriend and instruct younger people is clear throughout Scripture, and we need the whole congregation—men and women of all stages and walks of life—to be passionately involved in this pursuit. So as you look for those fun college students and newly married couples, be sure to prioritize other godly examples, too. Thinking outside the box helps youth ministries to flourish; your students, after all, need the whole body of Christ.

Article by: Chelsea Kingston Erickson, 5 Leaders Every Youth Ministry Needs

Motivated for Mission

The call to share the gospel is often an intimidating, unsettling thing--even for the most seasoned believers. We know that we should, we know Jesus' words in the Great Commission to "go, make disciples," and yet we still don't. We let fear rule our lives, worrying that we will say something wrong, we won't know the answers, or the listener will respond poorly. We don't want to be pushy, we don't want to make someone uncomfortable. We don't know how to bring it up, we don't feel equipped. The excuses can go on for miles, and I have felt or said every one of them.

(For a reminder of who needs to hear the gospel, read Pastor Keith's recent post: Good People Don't Go to Heaven)

The gospel gives us answers to every one of these excuses, but more than that, the gospel gives us powerful motivation to share the gospel. Jesus shows us the motivation for mission, because it is after all his mission.

Motivated by Compassion

A few weeks ago, Pastor Keith shared a quote from Darrin Patrick's book, Church Planter:

The motive for mission is compassion. We join Jesus on his mission not because we want to grow our church or because we like to dispense apologetic insights to skeptics or even because we like to hang out with unbelievers. We go on the mission of the Savior because we share the compassionate heart of the one who sees people as sheep without a shepherd.

Patrick states that the #1 reason we share the gospel is compassion: "sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others." Where do we find the perfect model of compassion? In Jesus.

It is impossible to read the Gospels without noticing Jesus' care and concern for people. Everywhere he went he met the needs of people around him, healing them, caring for them, raising their loved ones from the dead, providing food when they were hungry. But before he met their needs, he saw their needs. He looked at people cared about what he saw:

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matt 9:35-36)

Over and over again people came to Jesus, broken, hurting, sick, dying, and he felt compassion for them. Not only were they in need of physical healing, Jesus saw that they were slaves to sin, unable to have fellowship with the Father, and far from him. He healed their physical afflictions, but he also healed their spiritual sickness. 

When Jesus began his ministry, Luke recounts Jesus essentially giving a summary of his mission on earth:

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  Luke 4:18-21

The prophet Isaiah wrote about a coming savior who would heal all of our brokenness and give us freedom from sin and death. As Jesus reads this aloud, he says, "Look! This is why I am here. I have come to meet broken people where they are and give them new life." Jesus' earthly ministry and his work on the cross were driven by his care for the broken condition of his people.

So how does this motivate you and me to join him on his mission? Sure, Jesus was compassionate, but what do I do when I realize I'm not?

Compassion for others begins to well up in our hearts when we remember the compassion Jesus showed to us. The gospel shows us that on our own we are hopelessly, helplessly sinful, enemies with God, unable to save ourselves (Romans 3:10-12, Ephesians 2:1-3). But God does not leave us there. Instead he sends Jesus to live a perfect life, die a horrible death, and raise to life again, defeating the power of sin and death in our lives (Ephesians 2:4-8). When we can do nothing to get to him, he comes all the way to us--doing all of the work and giving us new life.

The gospel frees us to look at the world around us and see their deep need for Jesus. Because we were once far from God and he pursued us, we know what it is to be in need of a savior. When we rehearse the truth of the gospel regularly (I was far from God and he rescued me), we are reminded of how incredible his grace is and how undeserving we are of it. This frees us to look at the people we interact with (at work, school, the grocery store, down the street) and care that they are far from God. That they are without hope and slaves to sin. That without the good news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, they are hopelessly lost. When we remind ourselves and one another of the need Jesus has met in redeeming us and bringing us back to the Father, we can join him on his mission to rescue and redeem the world. 

There is no compassion without action. We can't see the lostness in our city and choose to be silent. We can't believe that we care for people and never tell them about the God who loves them and desires to forgive their sin. Compassion will impel us to bring the good news we have to them, not just treat them well or be nicer to them. We have incredibly good news to share. 

Lord, you are indescribably good and merciful. You give grace upon grace to people like me who could never deserve it. Open my eyes to see the incredible grace you have given me, and to see the people around me who still need to know you. Help me to see the truth of the gospel more clearly so that I grow in my care and compassion for the people around me.

3 Circles: A Gospel Presentation

Recently, I wrote a blog post about how the gospel advances through everyday believers and how we should all be eager to share the gospel with everyone we come in contact with. You can read it here. If you go out and begin having conversations with people, you will begin realizing that people are all broken. Regardless of whether people have a church background, whether they believe in God, whether they know what sin is, people do understand brokenness because they’ve been hurt. They understand what it means to feel cheap and empty and used. They understand what it means to have no sense of purpose. They understand what it means to be confused about gender, sexuality, and family structure.

Christians have a unique opportunity to speak the gospel into people's brokenness in a way that no one else can. At our most recent Quarterly Training, we discussed a tool for sharing the gospel called the 3 Circles. A good opportunity for sharing the 3 Circles is when someone mentions a problem or something painful going on in their life. That usually doesn’t take very long. It’s truly amazing how quickly our conversations move toward these kinds of experiences. The person’s difficulty, pain, or disappointment gives us the opportunity to say, ‘I’ve had experiences like that too. I’ve had experiences that made me feel similar to the way you’re feeling now. Could I just show you something that gave me a tremendous amount hope during my time of struggle?" Then you just draw the three circles and walk the person through the gospel, God's plan to redeem and restore broken sinners.

The tool helps people use three simple circles that represent God's Design (Creation), Brokenness (Fall) and the Gospel (Redemption & Restoration) -- which can be drawn, for example, on a napkin during lunch -- to communicate the Gospel. This is simply a tool. It is not magic. It does not save people. But this is a simple, reproducible tool that can be a great way to share the gospel with a neighbor, co-worker, friend, or acquaintance.

Watch this video below and learn to tell God's Story in a simple way. More importantly, learn to train others to tell God's Story, getting His message out until there is no place left for it to go. Practice the 3 Circles and become comfortable sharing it. Then, go out and share the gospel using this simple tool.

*Thoughts gathered from Ray Vaughn and Jimmy Scroggins*

When Mother’s Day Hurts

"There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” 1 Samuel‬ ‭2:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This verse will be our call to worship Sunday. It comes from a prayer of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, a prophet of Israel. If you’re not familiar with her story, Hannah was a woman who knew grief. She experienced infertility for a number of years (the Bible doesn’t specify how long, just that it went on year by year), and finally gave birth to a son, whom she gave in service to the Lord at the temple once he was weaned. You can read more in I Samuel 1-2.

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and while it is a wonderful day to show appreciation for the moms in our lives, for many it is a day of grieving. Many women feel the ache of infertility, secondary infertility, or pregnancy loss. Others have experienced the tragedy of losing a child. Others still have lost their own mothers, are estranged from her, or perhaps never had the loving relationship with their mom that everyone else seems to have. There are even moms who, for various reasons, believe they have utterly failed at motherhood and feel no hope for forgiveness or reconciliation with their children.

Even though that prayer of Hannah was after she had given birth to Samuel, it still came from a heart that knew deep longing and anguish. She knew the pain of years of seemingly unheard prayers, of longing for a child whom she may never be given. Anyone who has experienced suffering knows that although the suffering may end, it’s effect on our soul can linger for years. 

What Hannah also knew was that the Lord was her rock. She kept praying for years because she knew God DID hear. She believed, even in sorrow, even though God may have seemed silent and distant.

You may be feeling deep sorrow this Mother’s Day. We want to acknowledge your pain and say that you are loved and valued.

Your identity and worth are not defined by your ability to have children, the number of miscarriages you’ve had, your strained relationship with your mom or children, the loss you’ve experienced, or the countless things you have filled your life with in hopes of dulling the pain. If you’re a mom, your identity and worth are not even defined by how great of a mom you are. 

Your value is found in Jesus. Because he became flesh, experienced pain and suffering, and bore it all even to death on a cross, you have a Savior who knows your hurt. Because he rose again and overcame sin and death, you have a new and living hope and can trust that your pain will not last forever. In Him, you are a loved, accepted and cherished child of God, who loves to do good toward you. Believe that. Let your grieving and sorrow bring you to the feet of Jesus and the hope found only in the gospel.

Yes, our world and our bodies are broken, and the pain can seem unbearable. But in Christ we can trust that our pain will not be wasted- he will always use it for our good and His own glory- and that one day Jesus will come back, wipe away every tear from every eye, and mend all our brokenness.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:18-19

Anonymous

Good People Don't Go to Heaven

You believe they do, and, very practically thinking, so do I.
Most of us spend our time with people who are like us. They enjoy the things that we enjoy. They speak our language. They watch our television shows. They have jobs or go to class. They pay their bills. They dress decently. They are nice. They are like us.
And we are believers - Christians.
They live in our neighborhood.
They work with us.
They look like us.
They act like us.
They talk like us.
If we are Christians, they must be Christians too.

We give it little thought. We assume.  We assume that because they are "good" to us, they must be "good" with God. Honestly, we probably don't even give conscious thought to this because they are so good, so much like us. But the truth is, no matter how good they are to us, good people don't go to heaven.

The Bible is clear that we are all sinners: we have all failed to love and follow God, and there are no "good people." The Bible is also clear that sin separates us from God. Our separation from God is unending apart from forgiveness of our sin. At the very least, this separation means that we won't be with him in "heaven." Worse, the Bible teaches that there is unending condemnation and even suffering when we die separated from God. Those forgiven will spend forevermore with him in a world free from sin and the consequences of sin. Those not forgiven will not.

The difference between those two groups - those who will be forevermore with him and those who will suffer unending condemnation - isn't measured by behavior, but belief. It won't depend on whether or not a person was "good," nice, hard working, a great dad or mom, neighborly, honest, dependable... but on whether or not they believed the good news of Jesus.  The good news of Jesus is a proclamation that by trusting in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we are forgiven of sin, made right in God's eyes and restored to a right relationship with him. By faith in his good work for us, we are made truly good in God's eyes (righteous and holy).

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 10:8 "But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Paul is explaining that forgiveness and restoration with God comes through faith, faith that is centered on the work of Jesus!  This faith is very specific. It isn't faith that God is good. It isn't faith that God is loving. It isn't faith that all roads lead to one great God. It is faith that God has provided for us, in Christ, a way of forgiveness - salvation. 
There is no other way of forgiveness, no other way of salvation, no other way of being good. It only comes by faith in the work of Jesus.

Then Paul adds this...
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone proclaiming to them? 
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be forgiven and saved.
But how can they call on him if they haven't believed?
And how can they believe in him when they haven't heard?
And how can they hear without someone proclaiming the good news to them?

The "good" people around us don't go to heaven- only the forgiven who trust in the good news of Jesus. And our niceness, service in the community and church attendance isn't the gospel. The gospel is the good news of his life, death and resurrection proclaimed. Our good neighbors, good co-workers and good friends need to hear about Jesus, and they need to hear from us.
My friends need to hear it from me.
Your friends? They need to hear from you.
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

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Women of the Word Book Review

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Studying the Bible can be hard.

The language can be difficult to understand. The cultural context is so different from ours. Some chapters or books seem irrelevant to us now. The timeline can be confusing. There are so many books, chapters and pages that even figuring out how or where to start can be overwhelming.

With so many bible studies, books and sermons so easily accessed these days, it can be tempting for us to rely on second-hand bible knowledge. To let someone else do the work and tell us what we need to know or believe. But as children of God, we should seek to know our Father personally, not simply to know what others know about Him, and He has given us his word as a means to know Him.

Another temptation can be to use the Bible as a type of therapy. By that I mean, you have an issue in your life- a worry, a sin, a conflict- and we turn to the Bible to find an answer, or to make us feel better. This is not to say that the Bible doesn’t have answers or won’t be comforting. But if that is our sole use and main purpose for reading our bible, then we are missing the point.

Our families, churches, cities and the world need women who are firmly grounded in the good news found in scripture. In Women of the Word, Jen Wilkin encourages women to know the word personally and to seek out the “big story” of God’s redemptive plan throughout. Her plan for studying your Bible is challenging, but one that anyone can do. After studying a passage, her application questions are: 1) What does this passage teach me about God? 2) How does this aspect of God’s character change my view of self? and 3) What should I do in response?

(Do those sound familiar? They are a lot like our four questions! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, find them here.)

Women of the Word will encourage and excite you about studying your Bible, knowing God better and more personally, and learning to see how everything in the Bible points to Jesus and our need for him. It is an enjoyable read and well worth your time!

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

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Hymns have a special place in the hearts of many. The unique melodies, the artfully crafted words, the rich theology…oh so good! We love the old hymns at New City. There’s a sense of encouragement and humility knowing that we sing the same hymns that generations before us sang. It gives me a sense that this Christianity thing is way bigger than me. These songs have helped people worship our God for generations and generations, before we even set foot on this earth. 

For some many of the hymns harken back to stories of faith and they know every word of every verse. For others these songs are brand new. No matter which side you fall on,I want to encourage you to sing these words loudly. As you sing, really listen and think about what you’re singing.

His word shall not fail you He promised
Believe Him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell.

Here we sing of the inerrant Word of God that never fails us. God uses Scripture to communicate the awe-inspiring message of Jesus Christ. It carries God’s promise to those who place their faith in Him. It provides hope to the dying world around us. We sing of the cruel effects of sin and the need for a Savior. In this last part we have a call to us as Christ-followers to share this perfect Savior to the world. What a powerful way to remember these truths! 

This Sunday we will be introducing a new arrangement of this old hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” that was written in 1922. Be sure to join us and come ready to sing!!

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu’rors we are

His word shall not fail you He promised
Believe Him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell

“Turn Your Eyes”  words by Helen H. Lemmel
arrangement by Joesph Tracy, 2017
© Public Domain
CCLI Song # 15960

It May Be Biblical, But It Isn't Christian

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"If your preaching never gets to Jesus, and particularly to his life, death and resurrection, then no matter how good it is, it isn't Christian."  I don't remember who said it, but it has greatly impacted my life. What makes Christianity unique is Jesus, the gospel. No matter how good our teaching may be, no matter how helpful it is with life's problems or how morally good it is, if Jesus makes no difference in the sermon or teaching then it simply is not Christian. Christianity is about the Christ.
Take a minute on that one.

I was reminded of that this week as our staff talked about an article by Tony Merida featured on The Gospel Coalition website.  Read the article below.  We say the word "gospel" a lot at New City, but does that make us gospel-centered?  We preach the Bible at New City, but does that mean we are gospel-centered?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Where would you see yourself in Merida's explanation of churches and the gospel?


Your Church May Not Be as Gospel-Centered as You Think

APRIL 10, 2018  | Tony Merida

"The book of Romans is about more than the “Romans Road.” It’s not just a book about individual salvation (though it certainly communicates this glorious message). It’s also about gospel-centered community and gospel-centered mission.

Michael Bird says Paul is “gospelizing” the believers in Rome. He wants every aspect of their lives to be shaped and empowered by the gospel. This is reflected especially in the latter half of the book. Therefore, Romans stands as a great book to consider, not only for theological clarity, but also for insights on gospel-centered leadership.

Before discussing the benefits of gospel-centrality, it’s important to understand how it differs from other approaches:

Gospel-Denying Churches

These shouldn’t be called churches. Various cults and extreme brands of liberalism would fit this category. They deny the essential truths of the gospel.

Gospel-Redefining Churches

Related to the previous category, these add to or subtract from the gospel. Examples include the prosperity gospel and the social gospel.

Gospel-Assuming Churches

These churches say they believe the gospel, but they rarely preach it plainly and deeply. It’s “Christianity-lite.” Leadership talks, therapeutic sermons, and practical-improvement messages fill the air.

Gospel-Affirming Churches

Like the previous group, these churches believe the gospel doctrinally, but the gospel is only meant for evangelism, and it is segmented out of the life of the church.

Gospel-Proclaiming Churches

These churches are known for preaching the gospel every week in corporate worship. But the gospel is still viewed as simply evangelistic. The gospel tips people into the kingdom, but it isn’t taught as that which also shapes and empowers Christian living. Often what is communicated to believers is some form of post-conversion moralism.

Gospel-Centered Churches

These churches preach the gospel every week explicitly—but not just to the unbeliever. They also preach and apply the gospel to Christians, as Paul did for the Romans (Rom. 1:15). It shapes and empowers Christian ethics and the life of the Christian community.

For example, marriage is taught by looking at Christ’s love for the church (Eph. 5:25); generosity is viewed through the lens of Christ’s generosity (2 Cor. 8:9); the call to forgive is rooted in Christ’s forgiveness of us (Col. 3:13); hospitality reflects the welcome of Christ (Rom. 15:7). Calls to social action—like caring for the orphan, the widow, the refugee, and the poor—are also made to believers with reference to their own identity in Christ.

Gospel Implications

We could give many reasons to pursue gospel centrality, but I’ll limit it to five.

1. The gospel changes lives

If you are a church planter, pastor, missionary, or ministry leader of any kind, it’s imperative that you have an unshakable confidence in the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). God loves to save sinners, and he does so when the gospel is proclaimed. Further, God loves to sanctify his people, and he does this as the gospel is applied.

If you are a church planter, pastor, missionary, or ministry leader of any kind, it’s imperative that you have an unshakable confidence in the gospel.

2. The gospel leads us to worship

The gospel transforms us from the inside out. And when affections change, everything changes. If a person loves Jesus deeply, it will change his or her behavior dramatically. Paul’s theology regularly leads him to doxology (Rom. 8:31–3911:33–36).

3. The gospel lifts us from despair

Sin, suffering, and death cause us to despair. The gospel lifts the saints from dark nights of the soul by reminding us that God’s verdict has already been pronounced; that though we suffer now, we’re still in the grip of the Father’s grace. Even death cannot separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:31–39).

4. The gospel unites diverse believers in community

In Romans 8, Paul is exulting in glorious gospel promises. It’s important to see the plural language Paul uses: “us,” “we,” “brothers/sisters,” and so on. Paul is seeking to unite both Jews and Gentiles in Christ, so he labors over the beauty of the gospel for several chapters in Romans. He wants to help them pursue unity in the gospel, and to consider how they should love one another practically (Rom. 12–14).

When we get to chapter 15, Paul’s appeal to unity climaxes with this prayer: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 15:5–6). Paul is applying his theology to build a unified, diverse people.

5. The gospel fuels our mission

You can endure opposition when you have promises like those in Romans 8. When you have a gospel this big, you’ll want to take it to the nations. Many don’t have a passion for the nations precisely because they don’t have a gospel worth preaching.

When you have a gospel as big as the one in Romans, you’ll want to take it to the nations. Many don’t have a passion for the nations precisely because they don’t have a gospel worth preaching."


Our desire at New City is to be gospel-centered in everything that we do, every ministry, every outreach, every service opportunity, every Missional Community and MC discussion. We pray that we might become gospel-centered in every area of life - where we live, work, play and worship.  We know that we can't be that church if we aren't those people - gospel-centered leaders, worshipers, church-goers, parents, children, students, employers, employees and friends. 

It isn't enough to use the word "gospel" a lot. It isn't enough that we are "biblical."  There are many religions and plenty of people who are morally good and who serve their communities. We must be wholly Christian.  We must learn to see all of life through the lens of the gospel - the life, death and resurrection of Jesus - how we work, how we parent, how we relate to others, Christian and non-Christian... we must be truly gospel-centered.

How did you evaluate yourself?

Gospel-Denying?  Gospel-Redefining?  Gospel-Assuming?  Gospel-Affirming?  Gospel-Proclaiming?  Gospel-Centered?

 

The Gospel Advances Through Everyday Believers

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What comes to your mind when you think of the word missionary? Do you think of goals being accomplished? Do you think of the Great Commission? Do you think of people selling everything and living in a remote village in Africa? When you think of missionaries, do you think it's reserved only for the Elite or Top-Tier Christians? Do you think of yourself when you hear the word missionary?

The reality is this: most Christians do not live their everyday lives as missionaries. Barna Group says this:

  • 84% of Protestant churchgoers affirm that they have a personal responsibility to share the gospel with the lost.
  • 75% feel comfortable sharing their faith with the lost.
  • Only 35% of those actually share the gospel with the lost.

State of Modern Evangelism According to Barna Group

The final command that Jesus gave before ascending into heaven was what we call the “Great Commission” (Matt. 28:18-20). Mark Dever said in his book, Understanding the Great Commission, “During his ministry before the crucifixion, Jesus had said that his mission was only to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 15:24). But now, after the resurrection…Jesus’ rule extends beyond Israel to all nations. He asserted his authority, then told his disciples to make disciples.” Then in Acts 1:8, believers are given the promised Holy Spirit and commanded to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Six chapters passed in Acts and the gospel still had not gone outside of Jerusalem. Then in chapter 7, Stephen was stoned which began persecution in the church on a large scale and caused the believers to be scattered all throughout the regions.

The interesting thing that we see in Acts 8, according to verse 1, is that those who were being scattered were all the believers except the apostles. It wasn’t the church leaders or elders taking the gospel to new places. It was the normal, everyday believers spreading the gospel into new regions. Verse 4 tells us that wherever they went, they were preaching the Word. Don’t see the word “preaching” and assume it is talking about a pastor in a service, the word preach here simply means “to proclaim.” It was normal, everyday believers proclaiming the gospel in word and deed.

This is the picture we see in Acts 8—God’s saved people proclaiming the gospel to people who did not know Jesus. God certainly used church leaders and preachers in the New Testament, and still does today, but the gospel first spread out of Jerusalem through normal, everyday believers.

What about the church today? We gather every Sunday to worship God, hear the preaching of the Word, fellowship, pray, take communion, and sing the gospel. Then we scatter. Week after week we scatter into different communities, into different offices, into different jobs, into different families, and occasionally into different parts of the world. This is what the church does. We gather and scatter. The challenge is this: as we scatter, preach the gospel. God is working behind the scenes in all of our scattering to ordain relationships, conversations, interactions, and even tragedies—may it be so that we see these as opportunities to proclaim his gospel.

I want to, but I'm just not sure how.

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For years I wanted to tell more people about Jesus, but I lacked the “know-how” and the confidence so I rarely actually did. I read the evangelism tracts and even took classes for programmed methods to share my faith… but I felt a little like a used car salesman (no offense to the used car salesman reading this). “What would I have to offer you for you to say yes to driving home in this car this afternoon?”  The “canned” gospel presentations felt so cold and impersonal, like being in a “time-share” sales meeting. I know that a lot of people still use those and I am sure that there are countless thousands who have found grace and forgiveness in Jesus through them – they just never felt comfortable to me.

I know I’m not alone. Most professing Christians never lead someone to Christ. They never share their faith and see someone become a follower of Jesus. Statistics vary, but according to many, somewhere between 48% and 62% of Christians who say they have a responsibility to share the gospel simply don’t.

Why? Why do so few share the good news of grace and forgiveness in Jesus?
I don’t think that it is for lack of caring. New City has recently begun praying together for people that we know who need Jesus – friends, co-workers, children, family.  HUNDREDS of names have been shared and thousands of prayers prayed. Clearly our people care.

If not a lack of caring, could it be a lack of know-how and confidence?
Could it be the same aversion that I have for “canned” gospel presentations?
Maybe.  Maybe that’s it.  Maybe that’s you.

For the past several months, the elders and staff have been talking about this. How do we become better at telling our own friends and family about Jesus?  How do we do so relationally?  How do we help one another and how do we help New City?

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Well, we’ve been praying. You’ve been praying. Now let’s talk about turning everyday conversations into gospel conversations!  That’s the subject of our next Quarterly Training – May 5. This should be a really great day of practical help with relationally sharing the good news of the gospel in everyday life.  We’d love to have you!  Jump over to the Facebook Event for more information. Let us know you’re coming.

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone proclaiming? 15 And how are they to proclaim unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  Romans 10

50 Years Later

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I turned 50 a few months ago. The older I get, the younger that seems. So much of my life "seems like yesterday." 50 years ago, months after my birth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Instead of feeling like yesterday for me, it might as well have been centuries ago. That's how it feels- so, so long ago. 

I think that the reason so much of my life "seems like yesterday," is because it is mine - my life, my memories, my sadness, my joy. It's mine. 50 years of life shaped by all the things that have impacted me, personally, deeply.

The reason the death of Dr. King, and ultimately the fight that killed him, seems so distant to me is that it hasn't really been mine. It is so difficult to believe that there was a time when people of color couldn't vote, couldn't eat in restaurants, watch movies and were required to ride in the back of the bus (just to name a few). I have no memories of those days and yet they were in my lifetime. Because they didn't negatively impact me or my family, because they were not injustices toward us, they don't "seem like yesterday."

A lot has changed in 50 years, voting, marriage, sharing space, admittance to schools and universities... but a lot remains the same.  

Like most of my life the impact of what hasn't changed escapes, or I escape it because I am white, because I am a part of what always has been the majority and the power. I don't see the same wrongs, the same prejudices. I don't experience them. They are rarely my life experiences.  But that isn't the case for everyone, even 50 years later.  

For a moment, watch the video below and imagine this being you. This isn't 50 years ago and it is a very small glimpse at the reality of life that still exists for people of color...

50 years later much has changed. But much has not.

I am thankful that God raises up men and women like Dr. King and the thousands who joined him to call for justice. I am thankful for the resilience, persistence and bravery of those who took stands and those who still do. But there is still work to do.

I am a very, very small fish with a very, very small sphere of influence. I can't do much to change much. But I can do something:

  • I can be honest and open my eyes to the world around me. Rather than excuse or making excuses, I can simply acknowledge that there is a lot of life that I have never experienced, but it is real. Racism is real. Prejudice is real. And these truths have not only divided us, they have shaped us in one way or another and they continue to shape us and the world we live in.
  • I can stop being indifferent.  Indifference is never truly indifference. Indifference allows and even feeds continued racism, prejudice and injustice. I can speak to my children, to my family, to my small group, to my church. I can stop being indifferent and use the voice I have in the places it can be heard.
  • I can be the one who tries. Let's be honest - there is fear in change and fear in trying. What if I fail? What if I try and am met with resentment? What if? What if? What if?
    There is fear and uncertainty and distrust deep within and it isn't limited to any color. Some is reasonable fear and some is not. I can face the fear. I can take the chance. I can move toward genuine friendship and understanding. I can be the one who tries, the one who not only tries to understand but who tries to wade through the awkward unknown and be a true friend. I can take the first steps. I can open my heart. I can open my home.

At New City Church we are committed to trying, to doing what we can do. We are committed, not because it is trending and popular but because we deeply believe it is connected to the gospel. Racism, prejudice, injustices, they are all sins. Jesus has come not only to forgive sin, but to empower us to break sin's curse and overcome it. The gospel also fixes what has been broken and unites what sin has divided. In Christ there is no divide; there is only one new people - His people.  If there is anywhere that love and unity should be brilliantly seen, it is His church.

"Father, I plead that your Spirit would be mighty to do what Jesus said He would do. Convict us of our deep and dark sins. Remind us of the work of Jesus that leads us to love and unity. Move in your people to be just that- your people- holy, different, set apart. Help us to be the Kingdom present here and now for your great glory and for the good of your people. Father, may our children and our children's children have no understanding of the division that we live in. In Jesus' name we pray this together. Amen."

New City Student Fundraisers!

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This Summer our Student MC (youth group) will be taking our 1st youth trip! We will be heading to Auburn, AL to be a part of Radius Camp. The dates will be July 16-20. The theme of this years camp will be, “ The Missionary God and His Missionary People.” Here is an excerpt from their website:

God is a missionary God. All of history, right up to this moment, he has been on a mission to reclaim the entire world for himself, to save people from all tribes, all tongues, all nations. When we read the Bible, we hear this reality proclaimed through a grand story that is not so much about man trying to find God, but of God coming to man. How amazing is it that this glorious God comes to seek and save the lost. Because of the missional pursuit of Jesus, we are now ‘the people whom God has loved, chosen, redeemed, shaped, and sent into the world in the name of Christ.’ We are his missionary people, and we must live out this mission with urgency, as we await the day when Jesus will return to make all things right and complete the mission to the glory of his Father.

Our days will be filled with gospel teaching, discussion times, activities, and opportunities to serve and be missional. We are so looking forward to this!!

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          There are a couple of fundraisers that I wanted to share with you that will help raise funds for camp. Many of our families have multiple students involved in our Student MC who desire to go. For some families it would cost a small fortune to send all of their students to camp. We wanted to help lift that financial burden so that these students have the opportunity to go to camp. Here are the fundraisers we have planned:

 

 

Boston Butt Fundraiser - April 28, 2018  

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          We will be holding Boston Butt Fundraiser and the proceeds will go toward helping our students go to camp. Our very own Grill Master Jeff Adams will be cooking on the pit and trust me…it’s going to be DELICIOUS! Boston Butts will be $35 each and can be picked up later in the day from 5:00pm-7:00pm. There will also be a sign up sheet at the bar in our main lobby. After Easter, Students will have sign up sheets as well as tickets for those who purchase from them.
          If you want to go ahead and purchase one now, you can make a payment to our PayPal account: nccbostonbutt@gmail.com

Macon Bacon Game - June 26, 2018

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          Students will also be selling tickets to a Macon Bacon game. Tickets will be $15 and includes a Macon Bacon ball cap and all you can eat concessions during the game. Seriously…ALL YOU CAN EAT!!!  MC’s what a great way to spend time together this summer at the baseball game and what an awesome opportunity to invite friends, neighbors, and co-workers who may not go to church or don’t know Jesus! Use this opportunity to reach out to them while helping raise funds for our students to go to camp. Win, win!!
          You can go ahead and purchase tickets here: 
https://NCC2017.eventbee.com/event?eid=105861873

          One other way you can help our Student MC is through prayer. We have both believers and non-believers that make up our Student MC. They need your prayers as they are trying to navigate the difficulties and challenges of school and the pressures of culture. They need your prayers for the Holy Spirit to lead and convict them of the truths of Jesus. Pray that we would get the funds raised so that all of our students and maybe their friends can join us at camp. Pray that each would continue to grow in Christ and they would know the love of Jesus. Pray that lives would be changed and hearts would be made new by the Gospel. 

A Call for Punctuality

You may or may not have noticed this before, but the trend at New City is to be late. Events almost always start on time, but our people are usually trickling in up to 20 minutes after the service starts. And hey, I get it. Sunday mornings can be crazy, especially if you’ve got kids. Stuff happens that is out of your control. I understand. However, there’s one really good reason why it’s worth the effort to make being on time, or even early to church the rule, rather than the exception. Are you ready?

It’s missional!

Have you thought of it that way? Missional means “of or relating to a mission.” What’s our mission? To help people live in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The first step toward that mission is for people to hear the gospel. And they will hear it every single week at New City. So here’s how it’s missional to be on time to church.

Do you know who is almost always going to show up on time or early? A first-time visitor. They don’t know exactly what to expect, so they will usually want to show up a few minutes early, to make sure they can figure out where to go and find somewhere to sit. How will you be able to greet those new people if you’re not here? Maybe you’ll have a chance after church, but maybe not.

Visitors often have kids, too. The check-in process takes a little bit longer the first time. Our kids area can get pretty chaotic when everyone shows up right at or before the service time. If you’re able to come a little early, get your kids checked in and move on upstairs, that makes check-in smoother and less overwhelming for new families.

Usually visitors will be early, but not always As you’re moving upstairs, they’re usually easy to spot. They often look a little unsure. Sometimes they’re stand-offish, waiting for someone to approach them. And they’re not wrong to do that! We should each be keeping our eyes open for new faces and intentionally reaching out to them. Yes, we have a Connect team who greet and almost always catch new people. But, truly, we are all responsible for making newcomers feel welcome. If you’re always running late to church, rushing upstairs to the service, you likely won’t even notice the first-time visitors who might be standing there wondering where to go.

Here’s the point: When you come early, get your kids checked in (if you have them), get upstairs and help make visitors feel welcome, you’re removing barriers to the gospel being heard, and increasing the likelihood that those visitors will come back and hear it again. You're being missional!

So come early, be friendly, and welcome others as Christ has so lovingly welcomed us into his family.
And remember, prelude starts at 8:55 and 10:55!

Changes in New City Kids!

This week brings two exciting changes in our New City Kids program! The mission of New City Kids is to partner with parents to build a firm gospel-centered spiritual foundation for their children. As we continue to grow, we want to keep our methods flexible but our mission the same, so we have a couple of changes to help us to do that.

1. 9:00 AM Classes

With our recent move to two services, we've seen a shift in class attendance and want to make sure we are making the best use of our available resources! To open our classes to as many kids as we can, our 9:00 AM service will offer these four classes beginning March 25:

  • Nursery/Toddlers (anyone in diapers) will meet in the "Hot Air Balloon Field"
  • Pre-K & Kindergarten (potty trained through K) will meet in the "City Park"
  • 1st & 2nd grade will meet in the "New City Zoo"
  • 3rd, 4th, & 5th grade will meet in the "City Theater" or "New City Cafe" (depending on size)

Our 11:00 AM service will remain the same as it has been:

  • Nursery/Toddlers (anyone in diapers) will meet in the "Hot Air Balloon Field"
  • Pre-K will meet in the "City Park"
  • Kindergarten & 1st grade will meet in the "New City Zoo"
  • 2nd & 3rd grade will meet in the "City Theater"
  • 4th & 5th grade will meet in the "New City Cafe"

We will continue to keep this model flexible as New City grows and we welcome more families each week! 

2. Classroom Curriculum: The Gospel Project

This Sunday also launches a series in a new curriculum in all of our classes (except the nursery). We have been using the Jesus Storybook Bible for some time and love it's focus on Jesus throughout all of Scripture. However, it is just shorter than a calendar year, and that has us teaching important lessons like Christmas and Easter at odd times! We want to incorporate these church-wide celebrations in to our lessons and reinforce what our kids are learning at home, so we are taking a break from the JSB to get back on track. In the meantime, we are going to teach Lifeway's The Gospel Project.

From Lifeway's website:

Every story casts His shadow.

66 books. Dozens of authors. A holy canon thousands of years in the making. Every word, every verse, bears His testimony. Of the Holy Messiah. Jesus Christ. Eternal King.

The Gospel Project® is a chronological, Christ-centered Bible study for Kids, Students, and Adults that examines how all Scripture gives testimony to Jesus Christ. Over the course of three years, participants will journey from Genesis to Revelation and discover how God’s plan of redemption unfolds throughout Scripture and still today, compelling them to join the mission of God.

We are excited to teach through a portion of this program on the New Testament letters this Spring, showing our kids how all of Scripture points to God's ultimate redemptive plan in Jesus. This week's lesson will focus on Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and next week will take us to the crucifixion and resurrection as we celebrate Easter. I encourage you to read more about the Gospel Project, and talk with your kids about what they're learning in class!

"Getting children to meet in the morning and the afternoon is a waste of their steps and yours if you do not set before them soul-saving, soul-sustaining truth." -Charles Spurgeon

At New City, we want to use every opportunity to help others live in light of the gospel, and our kids are no exception. Pray with me that these changes serve our families well and open doors for the gospel to be proclaimed - with kids, parents, visitors, and friends. Thank you to our faithful volunteers who love and serve our kids and their families week after week!

Gratefully,

Heather

 

Preparing for Easter with Kids

At times it can be hard for us to slow down long enough to ponder and be amazed by the jaw-dropping truth that Easter represents. It is another day, another family function, another event to plan around, and we can lose our sense of awe at the magnitude of what we're celebrating. So how are we supposed to share the awe and wonder of Easter with our kids?

From the beginning of time, our all-knowing God has been preparing a plan to save and restore a broken and sinful world to himself. His design for us is to live in relationship with him, but our selfish and sinful hearts forbid it. There is nothing we can do to repair that relationship on our own, so he made a way. He sent his perfect, holy, divine Son into our brokenness to take the punishment we deserve and give us his righteousness. Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and was raised on the third day, forever defeating death and sin on our behalf. What an incredible, glorious day to celebrate. 

But what practical things can we do to teach our kids of the big picture of Easter - not just the springtime fun, but the culmination of God's redemptive plan for the world?

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This Easter I want to encourage you with some resources that can help you communicate the mind-boggling, beautiful truths of the holiday with your family. One of these resources is a sweet little book called, The Garden, The Curtain, and the Cross. Drawing kids into God's big story - creation, fall, redemption, and restoration - this book beautifully depicts the heart of the gospel. 

The book traces God's story from creation, through the fall and our separation from God, and finally Jesus' triumphant sacrifice on the cross. As it describes the effects of the fall and our separation from God, the book repeats the refrain, "because of your sin, you can't come in." But at the end of the book (spoiler alert) Jesus beautifully says, "God says it is wonderful to live with him. Because of your sin, you can't come in. BUT I died on the cross to take your sin, so all my friends CAN now come in!" This sweet rhyme reminds us all - adults and kids alike - that we were hopeless and desperate, unable to come to God. But because of Jesus, we are welcomed and loved. Incredible.

We will have a few copies of The Garden, The Curtain, and the Cross available at the Connect Bar this Easter season if you'd like to purchase one to read with your family.

If you want to read along with what your kids are learning in their classes this season, we will have a two-week unit on Easter beginning March 25th. Our first series in the Gospel Project curriculum, week 1 will focus on Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem in Matthew 21:1-17;
Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19. Week 2 will turn to the crucifixion and resurrection in Matthew 26:36–28:10; and John 18:1–20:18. Read these passages with your kids beforehand and talk with them about it!

I also wanted to share some other resources that one of my new favorite podcasts, Risen Motherhood, put together about celebrating Easter with your little ones. There are lots of great books to read, both for you and your kids, and some fun activities to do together to talk more about what Easter means.

And of course, don't forget that we have several events centered around Easter coming up! The goal for each of these events is not just to put something on the calendar, but to joyfully celebrate the most amazing thing that has ever happened: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Don't miss the opportunity to invite someone in to hear this incredible truth!