Guarding Our Children

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Since stepping into the role of Student Director at New City, I have had a number of conversations and overheard many parents talking about keeping their students safe and well guarded when it comes to the internet. Becoming a father recently has caused me to think even more about guarding young eyes. Here is an article by Tim Challies with helpful tips, resources, and thoughts about how to protect your family. 


"I am a father of three children who are fully part of the digital generation. They are as comfortable with iPods as I am with a paperback and have only ever known a world where almost all of us have cell phones with us at all times, where Facebook is a teenager’s rite-of-passage, where every home has five or ten or twenty devices that can access the rest of the world through the Internet. Yet I know of the dangers that are lurking out there, waiting to draw them in.

I want to protect my children in a world like this, but I want to do more than that. I want to disciple my children to live virtuously, to use these new technologies for good purposes instead of bad ones. I believe this is a crucial part of my calling as a parent. To address this great need, I have put together what I call The Porn-Free Family Plan. It is a plan designed to protect my children from online dangers so that I can train them to use their devices and technologies well.

The Porn-Free Family Plan

A thorough plan needs to account for three types of device:

  • Fixed devices. These are the devices will only ever be used in the home. Here we have desktop computers in the home office or Internet-enabled televisions and gaming consoles. Parents can have a significant level of control over these devices.
  • Mobile devices. These are the laptops, tablets, smart phones and other devices that can be used in the home but also carried out of the home and used elsewhere. Parents can have as lesser degree of control over these devices.
  • Other people’s devices. These are the computers children may use at another person’s home or the tablets other children may show to their friends. Parents can have no control over these devices.

In all of this there are two broad goals: To prevent those who want to find pornography and to protect those who do not want to find it but who may otherwise find themselves exposed to it, to confound those who want to see porn and to shield those who don’t. And while the plan is geared specifically to combat pornography, it will also help battle other online dangers.

The Porn Free Family Plan has four steps: Plan, Prepare, Meet and Monitor.

Plan

You’ve heard the old maxim: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The maxim applies well to what we are attempting to accomplish here. A successful plan will need to account for every device in your home that combines an Internet connection with a screen. So let’s get to work.

Step 1: Inventory
You need to know exactly how many Internet-enabled devices you have in your home. To do this, you will need to take an inventory. Make a list of all your Internet-enabled devices: desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Don’t forget the Playstation 3, Xbox, smart televisions, Apple TVs, iPods, and e-reader tablets. Even a Kindle reading device has basic web-browsing capabilities. A family recently reported that after doing this they were shocked to learn they had 22 devices to account for!

Step 2: Budget
Decide whether you are able to make Internet security a regular and recurring monthly expense. Where it used to cost money to access pornography, today it often costs money to avoid it. While there are free options available, the best services have a cost associated with them. A budget of $20-$25 per month will allow a family to take advantage of the premier options.

Step 3: Learn
Now that you have taken your inventory and have a better grasp of the devices your plan needs to account for, it is time to learn about the options available to protect those who use them. There are four broad categories of protection we have available:

  • Filtering. Filtering proactively detects and blocks objectionable content. (Examples: If your child does an Internet search for “naked girls,” it will block the search; If your child mistakenly clicks a link to a pornographic web site, it will block access to the site.)
  • Accountability. Accountability software tracks web sites visited from different devices and then prepares and delivers regular reports. (Example: If your child visits a pornographic web site or performs a search for “naked girls,” the accountability software will note it and include it in a report emailed to you.)
  • Parental controls. Parental controls block certain functions of modern devices (Examples: Preventing the use of the Internet browser on an iPod Touch; preventing the use of the Facebook app on a tablet).
  • Communication. We cannot rely on technology to solve all of our problems, so the plan must also involve regular, deliberate and open communication.

Because none of these offers complete protection, the wise plan must use some combination of all four. The Porn-Free Family plan uses the following tools:

  • OpenDNS. OpenDNS uses filtering to automatically block objectionable web sites for every device connected to your home network. It is activated by making a small change to the settings on your existing router. 
  • Covenant Eyes. Covenant Eyes tracks the web sites visited by your computers and mobile devices and sends regular email reports; it also offers optional filtering that can be configured specifically for each member of your family.
  • Parental Controls. Parental controls allow parents to disable certain functions on devices.
  • Meetings. The most indispensable tool is regular, open, deliberate communication between parents and their children.

Step 4: Discuss
Before you begin to implement the plan, it may be a good idea to meet with your family to explain what you are about to do and what you hope to accomplish by it. You will be inconveniencing your family and putting rules in place that will impact them, so it may be wise to discuss these things with them.

 

Prepare

Let’s get started in putting that plan in place. This will take a couple of hours, so set aside the time, brew yourself a coffee, and get to it!

Step 1: Create Passwords
Master password. At the very top of the list is creating your master password. Your whole plan may fail if you choose a bad password or fail to protect it. Make it good (something that is difficult to guess and combines letters with numbers) and make sure you store it somewhere safe if you are not certain you will remember it. You may also need to create a 4-digit master password for mobile devices.

Family passwords. You also need to create a password for every other person in your home. Create passwords that will be easy for them to remember, but hard for others to guess. Every child needs to know his own password and only his own password. Make sure you record these passwords somewhere safe. If your children use mobile devices, you may also need to create mobile passwords for your children—usually 4-digit codes. Once again, make sure you know these codes and make sure you store them somewhere safe.

Step 2: Sign Up & Create Accounts
With your passwords in place, it is time to sign up for the services you will be using.

OpenDNS. We will begin by signing up for OpenDNS.

  • Visit OpenDNS (www.opendns.com) and look for their Parental Control Solution. OpenDNS Family Shield is a great place to begin (Alternatively, OpenDNS Home VIP is the optional, premier solution and costs $19.95 per year). 
  • Create a user account for yourself using your master password.
  • Take a look at the different filtering options and set the ones appropriate for your family. Whatever you set here will apply to every device that accesses the Internet through your home network.
  • Note: It would be best to set the filter to block more rather than less, and to loosen it if and when you find that it is blocking too many sites.

Covenant Eyes. You have signed up for your filtering; now it’s time to sign up for the accountability software.

  • Visit Covenant Eyes (www.covenanteyes.com) and create an account using your master password.
  • Add each member of your family as a user and assign the password you created for each of them.
  • Sign up each user for accountability monitoring and have the reports sent to your email address every 3 to 7 days. Choose an accountability level appropriate to their age and maturity.
  • If you would like to have user-specific filtering in addition to the general filtering with OpenDNS, configure that as well. Choose a filtering level appropriate to each person’s age and maturity. It may also be wise to disable Internet access during certain times (Example: Disable all Internet access for your children after 9 PM and before 7 AM).
  • Note: It is best to set the filter and accountability to block and report more and to relax the filtering levels only if and when it is proving cumbersome.

Computers. Now you need to create user accounts on each of your computers and laptops (and tablets if they allow multiple users).

  • For every computer in your home you will need to create an account for each person who uses it. This means that if there are five people in your family and they each use the family computer, you will need to create five accounts—one for each of them.
  • Create an account for yourself using your master password and ensure that you have administrator privileges.
  • Then create a user account for each family member using the password you created for them; make sure that they do not have administrator privileges.

Let me offer a warning: This step can be laborious, especially if you have multiple computers. Persevere!

Step 3: Install Software
Now that we have created our accounts, we can install and activate OpenDNS and Covenant Eyes.

Install OpenDNS on your router. OpenDNS is activated with a simple change on your home router and managed through an online interface at www.opendns.com. You will need to refer to OpenDNS to learn how to change the appropriate settings. As soon as you do this, your filtering will be activated. Just like that, you are already beginning to protect your family.

Install Covenant Eyes on every laptop and desktop computer in your home. Visit www.covenanteyes.com, log in to your account, download the appropriate software, and install it. Log in to each account on each computer and ensure that the Covenant Eyes software is running properly (look for the “open eye” icon).

Mobile Devices. If you have decided to allow browser access on your mobile devices, install the Covenant Eyes browser on those devices (typically by visiting an app store and downloading the app). Note: If you wish to have Covenant Eyes on your mobile devices, you will also need to use parental controls (see below) to block access to any other browser on those devices.

Gaming Consoles. Remove Internet browser access on all gaming consoles. Also consider removing access to YouTube, Netflix and other video sites.

Other Devices. Return to your inventory list and see what other devices you need to account for. Your plan will only be as strong its weakest point.

Step 4: Apply Parental Controls
Set parental controls on all mobile devices. To make this effective on devices owned by your children, you will need to set a parental control password and use this password to ensure only you have access to the parental controls. Here are the settings I recommend for devices used by children:

  • Ensure devices lock as soon as they are no longer in use.
  • Turn off web browsing. If your children need web browsing, install the Covenant Eyes browser and use parental controls to block access to all other browsers.
  • Turn off the ability to install new apps without inputting your password.
  • Turn off the ability to change their own password or account information.
  • Consider turning off Facebook, Twitter and other social media apps (since these apps often have a built-in browser that will allow them to visit web sites while bypassing all accountability software).
  • Consider turning off the camera access if you are concerned that your child may misuse. Be especially cautious with applications that combine social media with a camera (Snapchat, Instagram, etc).

Congratulations! You made it through. You know what devices are in the home, and you have accounted for each one by installing filtering and accountability software. There is just one problem: Everyone in your family is upset with you! So now it is time for that family meeting.

Meet

We tend to believe that problems caused by technology can be solved by more technology. However, what is stronger, better, and longer-lasting than even the best technology, is character. The family meeting is where you discuss and emphasize the importance and the growth of character.

I suggest having an occasional family-wide meeting to discuss the system, and regular one-on-one meetings with your children to ask them specific questions and ask for specific feedback.

Step 1: The Family Meeting
The actual content of the family meeting will depend to some degree on the age of your children. Here are some ideas for talking points:

  • Concern. Because of your concern for their well-being, you have taken actions to protect them as they use the Internet. Explain that you do not view your children as criminals or porn addicts, but that you do wish to protect them from online dangers. Depending on the age of your children, this may be a good time to explain that there are so many people who struggle with pornography that they may need to expect that some day they will face the temptation as well.
  • Privacy. Your children—and especially young children—should have no expectation of privacy when they use their devices. They should know that you will have liberty to check their devices without their permission and that their online actions will generate reports that you intend to monitor. You are doing this in order to love and protect them.
  • Passwords. Everyone needs to know the importance of passwords and that you expect them to protect theirs. They may not share their passwords with their siblings or their friends.
  • Readiness. You need to speak to your children about Internet safety outside the home. Talk to them about what to do if they are accessing devices in other people’s homes. Explain to them what they should do if someone shows them pornographic or otherwise inappropriate material.
  • Mom and Dad. If you have decided to hold yourself to the same standards—to use filtering and accountability software (something I recommend!)—this is a good time to explain that to the children.

Step 2: One-on-One Meetings
Parents and their children will benefit tremendously from having regular discussions about online dangers and concerns. The conversations will vary a great deal depending on the age and maturity level of the child. Here are some questions you may consider asking:

  • Are you able to access everything you need to access online?
  • Are you feeling tempted to look for things online that you know you shouldn’t look for?
  • Do you know if your friends are looking at pornography and talking about it?
  • Have you looked at pornography since the last time we met?

I trust you have prepared yourself for some push-back and some frustration, especially at the beginning. Your children will probably find that they cannot access certain sites or that they need to input passwords where before they did not. Your spouse may find that she cannot access certain sites she wants to. Persevere, and address each issue as it arises.

Monitor

The plan is in place, and your family is now benefiting from some level of protection. But this not a plan you can set in place and simply leave to run its course. It requires monitoring and maintenance.

  • Covenant Eyes Reports. Covenant Eyes will send you regular reports. Do not expect these reports to be as helpful as you want them to be. You will need to take some time—two or three minutes—to look carefully over the report looking for anything that seems amiss. Follow-up with any of your children whose report shows a red flag.
  • OpenDNS Reports. OpenDNS also collects reports, including pages and searches it has blocked. While you will not know who is responsible for these blocks, you would do well to keep an eye on them, to look for patterns, and so on.
  • Adjust. As your children grow older you may find that you need to adjust their privileges. You may also find that as they grow older they face greater temptations which will require fewer privileges. Be willing to adjust accordingly.
  • Maintain. Covenant Eyes updates their software on a regular basis. As they do this, you will want to install the new updates.

Conclusion

And that’s the Porn-Free Family Plan. It takes a couple of hours of hard work to set up, but it is time well-invested. Even then, this plan is not fool-proof—no plan is completely fool-proof. There will be ways around it for those committed to finding those ways. Covenant Eyes will occasionally block something harmless; OpenDNS will sometimes fail to filter something that obviously ought to be filtered. Yet the plan will suffice for most families in most circumstances. You are well on your way to training and protecting your children."

Racism: How Do We Change Things?

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I see a lot on social media, blogs and in the news describing the depth of racism's roots in our country. I read and see a lot of anger and hostility over racism. Statues are being torn down, removed, or moved. There are protests and counter-protests. Much of what I see and read is ugly and quite discouraging. Worse, there is little offered as a solution to the problem of racism.

At New City, we have begun a series of discussions on race. DISCUSSIONS. We have set up a time that we can talk and listen - learn from one another - share experiences. The reality is, that these discussions won't change our nation. Our hope is that they begin a process of change in the hearts and minds of some... a few... maybe a church and a larger community.

I am thankful for the willingness of our New City people to be a part of these discussions and their willingness to invite our city to be a part as well. I am thankful to those brave enough to share their stories last month.

We aren't completely sure HOW to bring about change, but we know we can't take steps forward without trying, without talking, without listening. And we also know this, the Gospel of Jesus Christ not only reconciles us to our Father, it reconciles us with one another. Jesus lived and died and was raised to bring about our racial reconciliation.

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.   Ephesians 2:13-15

Here is a link for some of the discussion.  We'll have another open discussion soon.  Pray with me that the body of Christ would live in light of the good news of Jesus, and in us the world would see a people reconciled.
Pastor Keith

Dear Church: Be a Foster Parent or Be the Village

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Many times we struggle with living out what we know. As a church, we tend to gravitate to 'knowing' more but flounder when it comes to transferring our knowledge to action. I mentioned adoption and fostering in last week's sermon in connection to living as a community, a family. As a foster/adoption parent, I can tell you from experience that the following post is a simple, but powerful way to reflect that you not only understand the gospel, but you are choosing to live it out.

- Patrick

 

(The following post by Katie from Loving Well Living Well is a practical, tangible way to live out the gospel in the specific area of fostering/adoption.)

Two years ago I ran into a friend who I hadn’t seen in weeks. “How are you?” I asked.  She had just started fostering a sibling group of three kids about two months earlier. Tears formed in her eyes and she began to weep. “You are the first person in weeks to ask how I have been,” she said.  I was stunned; partially because this woman was clearly struggling and isolated, but even more so because this woman was an active member of her church and lead bible studies. She was plugged into her church community and it was no secret to anyone she was fostering.

“Has anyone brought you a meal or asked to watch the kids to give you a break?”  “No”, she said. “But plenty of people tell me they are praying for me. “

Where was the church body in this? The body of Christ?  The Village?  Why was it in a church full of young families, constant play dates, and VBS, this family was receiving no support from the church body?

Unfortunately, this family is no longer fostering and joined the staggering statistic of 50% of foster families who stop fostering after their first year.

Two months later I attended a national adoption/foster care conference. Clones of my friend’s story were told over and over by various women from across the country.  While they are actively living out James 1:27 in every moment of their life, their church family was playing a meager role in supporting them outside of a flippant “I’ll pray for ya.”

Fast forward two years and my husband and I began fostering.  It wasn’t long before we took in 10 different placements at various times, over a 2 month period.  Our first placement was a little boy, and the second another sweet boy, and the third placement was a sibling set of two boys and a girl.  The flood gates opened and we were on the front line living life with these kids; all precious and all traumatized.  With each placement, we found a member of our church at our door, bringing meals, boy clothes, pull ups, and formula.  A friend brought over her therapy dog and bubbles to keep the kids occupied one afternoon, and another friend showed up with a crate of fresh eggs from her coop.  Teenagers from the youth group came over and handed my husband Josh and me iced coffee (my personal love language) then stayed for hours playing with the kids to give us a breather.  Josh and I were running a marathon and this love and support gave us the continuous cup of cold water needed to keep running the race.  Our experience is rare; embarrassingly rare, especially when other foster families catch wind of our support that they have been so desperate for.

Is the church filled with terrible and apathetic people? No. But perhaps the church has blinders on and doesn’t realize their role in foster care.  Not everyone is supposed to be a foster parent, but every Christian is supposed to play an active role in orphan care.

What actions can the church body do to live out James 1:27?  First, recognition must take place that taking care of orphans is a commandment, not a calling.  James 1:27 uses the word   “visiting” when describing orphans.  The word visiting is an ongoing word of action, not simply a one-time event.  Within this commandment of “visiting orphans” are individual callings.  Some people are called to be foster parents and others have a place to support those families.

Here are some specific yet simple ways to be the village and the body of Christ, to foster families in your church.

Create a Meal Calendar- A one-time meal is nice, but this foster family is running a continual race.  If you have more than 10 families in your church, each family can sign up to bring a meal once a month.

Free Babysitting- In most states, there is a “normalcy” clause when it comes to foster children. That means, if you would allow a babysitter to come over to watch your kids for a couple hours, then that is also appropriate for foster kids.  Offer free babysitting to the foster family.

Clean the foster family’s home for an hour– Tell the family you are coming over for an hour to clean/organize, or do their laundry.

Give Care packages– Diapers, food, formula, kids clothes, car seats.  These kids are dropped off at this family’s house at a moment’s notice with typically nothing besides the clothes on their back.

Send members of the Youth Group over to play with the kids on Saturdays- These foster children will be blessed by the love and the fun with the teens, and this is also a great experience for teenagers to see their important impact.

This is not an exhaustive list but is a good start.  These meals, these acts of love are the game changer which keeps foster parents in the game verses throwing in the towel. My hope is that this list is shared and then implemented in churches around the country.  It will change and refresh foster families and will also change churches.  It’s time for the Church to play their part, to be the village and the body of Christ which is so clearly articulated in the Word.

Should Parents Lay Down The Law Or Give Grace?

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Register today to learn more about gospel-centered parenting from Paul Tripp through his live stream event! Space will fill up quickly at New City Milledgeville, so register today!

Parenting Conference Sept. 29-30

I have parents who talk to me all the time about their struggle with the question, "When should I enforce law and when should I give grace?" The problem with the question is that it treats God’s law and God’s grace as two opposing forces. 

Think of biblical history, when the law was given: God had redeemed his children out of captivity, but they didn’t know how to be the children of God. They didn’t know how to walk with God and they didn’t know how to live this new life of freedom that they were given, so God gave them his law. 

Think about this: his law was grace. It was an act of beautiful, gorgeous, loving grace that God would give his law to his children. So grace is a way of bringing the guidance and regulating authority of God’s wisdom to my children. Grace is not suspending the law. Grace is not rejecting authority. Grace is not walking away from the need of my children to have boundaries in their life—grace is about the way that I do that. 

So, as I know my children need the awareness of God’s law, they also need the self-awareness that law gives them. They need the guidance of God’s law. I also know that I need to bring that in a spirit of tender, patient, kind, loving, and forgiving grace. 

Parenting needs to include a law/grace balance because they are not opposing forces.

The Gospel is for Kids

The Gospel is for Kids

At New City, we desire to see the gospel change everything within our reach - ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world. We believe that the good news of Jesus changes us, and that it is the answer to all of our questions, hurts, joys, and longings. Because we are committed to the gospel, we teach it to our children every week.

Singing Truth

I absolutely LOVE the songs we sing at New City Church. Here are just two of the songs we will be singing this Sunday. Listen, learn, and be encouraged by these gospel truths set to song. To listen to and learn the rest of the songs we we will sing this Sunday, check out our Spotify playlist entitled, "New City Sunday Morning." Join us this Sunday!

Death Has Lost Its Sting

Words by Isaac Watts, Adapted by Rebecca Dennison, Arranged by Mike Cosper
CCLI Song# 5939116
© 2011 Sojourn Community Church

Amanda Christopher - Vocals
Adam Crosby - Vocals
Arthur Lin - Guitar
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Video by Andy Carter Photography
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My God, how many are my fears
How fast my foes increase
Conspiring my eternal death
They break my fleeting peace

The lying tempter would persuade
My heart to doubt your aid
And all my swelling sins appear
Much greater than your grace

Arise, Oh Lord, fulfill your grace
While I your glory sing;
My God has broke the serpent’s teeth
And death has lost his sting

But you my glory and my strength
Will on my tempter tread
Will silence all my threatening guilt
And raise my drooping head.

Arise, Oh Lord, fulfill your grace
While I your glory sing;
My God has broke the serpent’s teeth
And death has lost his sting

And though the hosts of death and hell
All armed against me stand
No more will terrors shake my soul;
Secure within your hand.

Arise, Oh Lord, fulfill your grace
While I your glory sing;
My God has broke the serpent’s teeth
And death has lost his sting

 

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!

CCLI Song # 7036096
Jonny Robinson  |  Rich Thompson
© 2016 CityAlight Music
For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.
All rights reserved. www.ccli.com
CCLI License # 3181384

 

The Gospel & Social Media

In a 20-mile radius of Milledgeville, Facebook has the potential of connecting with 45,000 people and the same distance in Macon has the potential to reach 190,000 people. A recent study showed that the average time spent per day on social media is 116 minutes, that’s a day. This is a powerful tool that businesses, non-profits, and affinity groups use to reach our cities with their messages. Think of the reach that a simple click of a button has in our cities!

I was thinking about the power of social media and the gospel this morning and just wanted to encourage you. As God’s people, we can accept, reject, or redeem our culture. Facebook has become one of the most important ways for people to find information about others and organizations. As much as we may not like it, it’s the reality in our day and age. It is worth redeeming.

Let’s be a church that is known for our deep love of Jesus and the community He has called us to reach.

As a church, this is actually a huge advantage for us because people who are moving into the area or checking out churches, inevitably turn to social media to research churches. A simple way to promote the church is to like and share whenever something is made public on the New City Milledgeville or New City Macon Facebook pages. As an example, when Chris or Arthur shares a Spotify playlist for us to prepare for Sunday morning, like it and share it. Maybe even place a comment if there is a specific song that you like in the list.

By liking, sharing, and commenting, this does two things. First, it helps with curb appeal. When someone visits our page, it shows activity. It’s like driving by a house that you are interested in buying. If the grass is cut, the bushes are trimmed, the paint is fresh, you are more likely to stop by and take a look.

Second, it directly affects the Facebook algorithm. This is the formula that Facebook uses to automatically have the post pop up in others Facebook feed. We aren’t trying to become the church with the most ‘likes’, but we are trying to be a church that is known in Milledgeville and Macon. This is a quick and simple way to help support the mission.

So, keep an eye on the Facebook pages (and Instagram if you use that app), and like, comment, and share! Let’s be a people who are so passionate about the Gospel that we choose to take every advantage to make Jesus known in our cities.

With and For Our City. Local Mission(al Communities) Part 2

Last week I shared with you a post on our approach to local mission - through our Missional Communities and about how one MC was reaching out through Tattnall Square Park. This week I wanted to share with you another great outreach - teachers in a local school.

One of the members of the Brewer MC was a teacher last year at Burdell-Hunt Elementary School in Fort Hill. Teaching is a tough task. Teaching in one of Macon's poorest neighborhoods is often even tougher. So the Brewer MC adopted the teachers of Burdell-Hunt. When the Principal heard New City wanted to partner with teachers, she was thrilled! So last week the Brewer MC kicked off its outreach to Burdell-Hunt and on Thursday took a car load of goodies, school supplies and cards of encouragement for the teachers.

Here are a few of the things the MC is hoping to do over the school year:
* More snacks and goodies for the teachers regularly throughout the year
* More cards of prayers and encouragement for the teachers
* Supplies for students and classrooms throughout the year
* Prayer! At each MC gathering and individually throughout the week

There has even been some talk about a teacher appreciation Sunday, a holiday luncheon provided by us for the school teachers, help for student families at Christmas, and a readiness to help in any way possible.

The Brewer MC wants the teachers to know that they are prayed for, cared for, and appreciated. Our teachers matter and their work is difficult. Their work is significant to the health and well being of our city!
The Brewer MC is hoping that this outreach grows into new relationships with the school and teachers and that maybe through those relationship Jesus would be made known!

That's good stuff!

With and For Our City. Local Mission(al Communities)

The mission of the church, as we understand it, is to help others live in light of the gospel. That means sharing the good news of Jesus with those who don’t know him and helping those who do know him understand how the life, death and resurrection changes everything. This is not an institutional mission, it is actually the life call of every believer.

In most of the churches that I have been a part of or even led, the mission as a church was carried out in a handful of activities that we (the whole church) did together throughout the year. Some of those things included Vacation Bible School, annual Mission Trips in and out of country, and maybe a Fall Festival – all really good things. After years of leading in many of these and participating in others I came to realize that only a small portion of the actual church family were involved in these mission opportunities.

So, with the start of New City we sought to change that, to engage more people in the church’s mission together by pressing local missions primarily through our Missional Communities.  The Crosby MC has recently decided to engage with one of Macon’s greatest parks, Tattnall Square Park, downtown.  I asked one of the Crosby MC folks to tell us a little more about what they are doing.

Emily: 
“We chose Tattnall park as our missional focus for the year.
A. It was a convenient location for our group- which includes families from Macon and Warner Robins.  it's easily accessible from the interstate and most of anywhere in Macon.
B. It was a place that any of our families could go to alone, or at their convenience, as well as together.
C. Given we have lots of families with kids, the park is a natural environment for us to hang out.  We said kids attract kids - we knew we would already have something in common with some of the people we would meet there.

Tattnall also provides opportunity to interact with Mercer students and the families in the neighborhoods surrounding the park. We liked that with church being downtown.  New City would also be easily accessible for the people we meet at the park.

We want to be present often in the park - Lunches, play dates etc. We will also have some kind of group presence two Fridays a month, which may include food- grill in the park/ pizza once a month… something like that.  We will advertise the events in the park as well as the Tattnall Square Park Facebook page, just to let people know.  We will also try and stock the little library in the park with appropriate and fun books
We want to build relationships with the people we meet and that will only happen if we continue to go back.

Our first group event there was in July. With the hype lately about the rock painting and hiding- we thought that would be a fun way to interact with people, and leave some "happy" around the park after we left.  
We created a facebook event, shared with friends and shared to the Friends of Tatttnall Park Facebook page. Had a great turnout. People brought picnic dinners for their families. We had tables set up with paint supplies and rocks. Kids and adults alike painted and hung out together.  We had friends and walk-ups join us. Then we dispersed in groups and hid the rocks around the park.
It was a great night of fun and fellowship.

The kids and I were at the park the following week and we ran into Isaac- one of the first men we met at the park a few weeks ago.  Isaac lives somewhere downtown, is not employed and seems to frequent the park during the day. He was thrilled we remembered his name and he had one of the rocks we painted in his pocket. The kids and I were able to hang out with him for a while- we learned he loves Mountain Dew and cookies- so I'll be sure to have those again next time we head down.

That day was a reminder for me of why we need to keep going back - It's relationships - and we can't build those if we don't keep interacting with the same people- we have to keep going back. I can't wait to see what the next year holds. I think we have a huge opportunity to love on that community and to show them what gospel-centered community really looks like.”

Imagine… 10 Missional Communities with similar commitments – to parks, schools, neighborhoods.
Imagine the whole church engaging with its city and communities over and over throughout the year.
Yeah.
That.
Won’t it be beautiful?
Through those new relationships we will have the opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus for the people and places of our city and to tell them.

Praying by Faith

This Sunday in Macon, our first "official" Prayer Team will be eagerly waiting to pray with and for our attendees. We're excited to add the team but even more excited about what God may do through our prayers.

We gathered last Sunday afternoon to talk about expectations, some practical "how-to's" an of course pray. I shared with the team some helpful and encouraging words from Sam Storms on "Faith and Healing" from his book, The Beginner's Guide to Spiritual Gifts.  Whether you are on the official Prayer Team or not, I think you will find Sam's teaching on the kinds of faith for healing a challenge and encouragement.

First there is "the faith that God is your sole source for blessing, that He is your hope, and He alone." "Faith turns us away from our own power and resources to His. Faith says, 'Lord, I am nothing and You are everything. I entrust myself to Your care. I cling to You alone. My confidence is in Your word and character no matter what happens.'"
Pray with a faith that recognizes God is God and you are not.

"Second, there is faith in God's ability to heal."  He is able!  He spoke into existence the universe. There is nothing that is beyond His ability.  Pray, knowing that He can.

"Third, there is faith in God's heart for healing. This is faith in God's goodness and His desire to bless His children."  God is good. Even in our pain and suffering this is true. His heart is indeed BIG for his children and for our healing. This doesn't mean that we will always receive the healing that we desire now. But that doesn't change His goodness. We know that His heart for healing and for us is enormous when we consider the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. In His life, death and resurrection, the Father lovingly provided for our eventual healing and restoration. I don't say it that way to dappen hope for healing, now. Rather I share that so that we can know that God is concerned with our pain and promises that we will be healed! God is good and Jesus is evidence of that goodness.  God will heal, and Jesus is evidence of that as well. So pray with great faith in God's heart for healing!

Fourth, "there is the faith not simply that God can heal, not simply that God delights to heal, but faith that God does heal." That's right - God DOES heal.  Healing isn't just a thing of the past!  God heals now, today! 

"Fifth and finally," Storms writes, "there is the faith that it is His will to heal right now."  This isn't a prayer "that we pray whenever we want to," he adds. "It is a unique prayer, divinely energized only on those occasions when it is God's sovereign purpose to impart a gift for healing."  "...this appears to be faith that He, in this particular case, is not only willing to heal, but is also willing to heal right now."  This fifth prayer of faith is described by Storms as unusual and occasional.

God heals when God desires.
That doesn't change our charge to pray for healing and to pray with faith and expectancy -
faith that God is the source of our blessing, faith that God is able to heal, faith that God is good and has a heart for healing, faith that God still heals today, and expectancy that God will do great things.

This is how we will pray for you. 
This is how we should pray for one another.

If you would like prayer with one of our Prayer Team members, we'll be waiting to pray with you during communion and our final song(s) of worship each Sunday.

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.