The Call to Lead: New City Music

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MOSES. For most the name conjures up thoughts of this great leader who lead God’s people out of an enslaving nation. Some thoughts may even harken back to the bearded Charlton Heston. Moses, a guy who fearfully obeyed God’s calling to stand before the Pharaoh and brazenly ask to let his people go, his entire workforce mind you! The guy who lead people through dry land through what I can only imagine the most magnificent hallway made of ocean water anyone could ever imagine, escaping the Pharaohs pursuit. The one who's face was glowing after conversing with God Almighty and brought down the ten commandment written on stone tablets. Talk about some HUGE mile”stones” to tell your kids and grandkids!! (See what I did there?)

There’s one accomplishment of his that I have overlooked: Making disciples. As great as Moses was, he was finite. Life would end eventually. The people would still need a leader. “He understood that leadership is always a temporary assignment—always.” In Exodus we read as Moses was carrying on his duties and his life in general, Joshua was there by his side. He personally invited and invested in Joshua. Joshua was by his side on Mt. Sinai when God gave Moses the ten commandments, when Moses smashed the Ten Commandment tablets with a righteous anger, when Moses communed with the Father in the Tent of Meetings. When the time came for Moses to pass on, Joshua was ready to lead the people. 

In recent weeks the staff and elders have been going through Designed to Lead. The book urges for leaders to be raised up in the church. The motivation here is not to have others do the work. Rather, the motivation is to see God’s work continue on and be done well as well as to see God’s work in the hearts of His people. How irresponsible it is to think that the entirety of going and making disciples and reaching the community is left up to one or a few on staff! 

The leadership at New City has been planning and discussing how to best disciple others. How do we go about this? What is the best system for this? We have been working on leadership pipelines in our respective areas of ministry. There’s still a lot of tweaking and fine tuning but we believe it is going to be great for the future of New City and ultimately for the future of God’s work here in Macon, GA. 

WORSHIP PIPELINE

Each of the pipelines are based on this flow chart: 

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In the area of Music/Worship, here are the levels of leadership:

Lead Self: Musician | Talented and gifted with the ability to play instruments or sing and are willing to serve and lead through music on Sunday mornings
Lead Others: Liturgist | Writes, plans, and leads through the gospel-centered liturgy on Sunday morning
Lead Leaders: Music Director | Organizes and leads musicians in band practice who is well-acquainted with song structure and music theory
Lead Ministry: Worship Director | Guides the mission and vision of the ministry and supports the leaders

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 
— Joshua 1:1-2

Though the transition of leadership from Moses to Joshua was smooth, natural, and well thought out, Joshua’s leadership tells a completely different story. Nowhere do we see Joshua actively raising and discipling others. The tragic conclusion of his leadership was that the next generation did not know the Lord or His works. (Judg. 2:8,10) This is a sobering warning to the church and it’s leaders. We need to be continually discipling leaders more and more leaders. Our desire is not to simply replace ourselves or lighten the load, but to prepare leaders to go and serve and lead not only within the church body but wherever God has planted us in life. 

If you want to read our previous blogs in this series click here and in the search bar type, “The Call to Lead.”

We Are New City: Leading in the Family

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Over the past four years of Air Force Reserve duty, “I am here for the health insurance” has become my mantra. I served on Active duty for almost five years and felt I had done my time…there was nothing else I needed to prove. During these past four years, I have been asked to put on another rank, move into a supervisory position, help lead in our unit…and my mantra has always been my response. No thanks, I’m just here for the insurance.

I just returned from two weeks in Charleston fulfilling my annual commitment, and again I was asked to lead, and again I said no thanks. Then I was put into a situation where I had to lead, and something changed inside me. With all of its stress and weight, I actually enjoy leading although I’m hesitant to do so. This past weekend I identified some problems and developed a solution and brought it to my leadership for them to correct. I didn’t come in a critical spirit of blaming or accusing, but more of seeing an area that we needed to work on and expecting my leadership to lead us in it. I walked out of that meeting just a little frustrated.

“Airman McConnell, I absolutely agree that is a problem. And I love your solution. Now…you go do it.”

Wait, what!?

“You are a part of this team. You have identified a problem and came up with a solution, and I 100% agree with you on both accounts. I am not the Air Force…WE, are the Air Force. You can’t expect supervisors to fix every problem. I’m empowering you to make changes. Now, go make it happen.”

I had voiced my complaint to a couple of my teammates, and they had concurred. They had encouraged me to go talk to our leadership, and I had done that…and in a moment, I was reminded that it takes a team to lead, make changes, and implement solutions.

As I walked away from that meeting, my frustration turned into an embarrassment. I had made the same mistake so many in the church body make. I had seen problems, and I had even come up with a solution…but I wanted someone else to fix it. I wanted someone else to lead, guide, and implement solutions.

WE are New City.

WE are a priesthood of saints.

WE are a body, perfectly fit together to be the church.

As we continue in our series describing who New City Church is and who we are as individuals, working together corporately, this served as a good reminder for me. We all see things a little different. We notice things that others may not notice. We are all equipped with different gifts, skills, and abilities. When we put our collective experiences together, we benefit, the church benefits, and our community benefits.

We are a family, serving together to see the Gospel advance in the world. If we see a problem or an area that we can grow in, don’t grumble, complain, or leave. Don’t just show up for the insurance. Remember your identity and live it out!

We Are New City: Discipleship like Jesus'

New City is a little different. But different isn't our goal.
Discipleship is.
That's the task Jesus left his original disciples with; that's the task of the church - discipleship.
Just after the resurrection and just before his ascension, Jesus gave the disciples their orders, "18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28

A disciple of Jesus is someone who loves and follows Jesus. That should describe every true believer - we love Jesus and follow him. Following him means that as disciples we are growing in our own knowledge and walk with him, becoming more and more like him (Romans 8:29). Following him also means that we are "making disciples," sharing the good news of Jesus (baptizing them) and helping others grow as his disciples (teaching them to obey his commands).

So - the church is people who love and follow Jesus, disciples. And the mission of the church is to be disciples (growing in our own walk) who are making disciples, helping others come to love and follow Jesus (or, helping others live in light of the gospel). Really that's it.
Love and follow Jesus and help others love and follow Jesus.

While there are many ways for discipleship to take place in and through the local church, here's how New City approaches discipleship following the model we see in the life of Jesus:

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Jesus Discipled the Multitudes
There are many stories in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) of huge crowds gathering to hear Jesus teach. So he taught the multitudes who gathered. 
For us, that's our Sunday morning gatherings. Every Sunday our liturgy, songs, sermons and kid's classes declare the gospel to both believers and unbelievers with the goal of seeing people come to love and follow Jesus. This is discipleship but not all that effective for deep growth.

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Jesus Discipled the Twelve
Jesus didn't spend all of his time with the multitudes. In fact he often tried to escape the multitudes with his disciples. Jesus spent a great deal of time with the twelve. They ate together, ministered together, did mission together. They celebrated weddings together and mourned funerals together. They faced adversity together. In all of that, Jesus was teaching this small group and preparing them to continue as disciples and make other disciples even when he was away.
We do this through our Missional Communities. Missional Communities (MCs) are like small groups but with a heavy focus on discipleship - helping others love and follow Jesus. Our MCs seek to apply each week's sermon to the life of those in the MC, learning to follow Jesus. Each MC is also on mission together, reaching out in a variety of ways to see others come to love Jesus as well.  Here discipleship deepens and becomes much more practical than a Sunday morning sermon. Here we live the "One Anothers" of Scripture which includes, Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. "

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Jesus Discipled a Few
Throughout the ministry of Jesus you find him spending extra time with three of his disciples - Peter, James and John. These three were closer to Jesus than any of the disciples. Jesus was investing more deeply in them and in their discipleship. These men would become primary leaders and evangelists in the first church. Jesus was preparing them to lead.
At New City we call these small groups DNA Groups. "A DNA Group usually consists of three people—men with men, women with women—within a particular (MC), who meet together regularly to be known and to bring the gospel to bear on each other’s lives so that they grow in and live out their gospel identity. DNA Groups are not about self improvement, but God’s unending grace to transform us through the gospel–Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection. (Galatians 1:102 Corinthians 5:21)"  (from www.saturatetheworld.com).  We'll be talking much more in the coming months about DNA Groups and getting more DNA groups started in our MCs.

Jesus made disciples who, by the power of the Spirit, changed the world.
We believe his method is worth repeating - reach the multitudes, disciple small groups, pour your life into a few who will also pour their lives into a few, disciples making disciples.  This is our focus. This is where we invest our time, talents and resources. This is how we make disciples who make disciples.

 

The Call to Lead: New City Kids

This post is part three in our Leadership Development series. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

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When many of us are tasked with developing leaders in our respective areas of influence, we respond with hesitancy. “I don’t have time to train someone else, I can do it faster myself.” “Who would even want to learn this skill or system?” “Where would I even begin?” So we agree that it is a good idea in theory, but never move to practice because it’s just too hard. (Oh, that’s just me, OK)

Leadership as Discipleship

But as followers of Jesus, called to make disciples as we go, we don’t have the luxury of just nodding our heads in agreement and never taking action. For the Christian, leadership development is directly tied up in discipleship because all of life is tied up in discipleship. Whether it’s in our families, our businesses, or our church, investing in the character and abilities of the people in our spheres of influence strengthens and equips the body of Christ for her work. When we teach, train, and develop the people around us to be better leaders, we are equipping them to be better disciples who make disciples. We cannot separate the two.

How does that affect us at New City? We believe the Bible teaches that we are disciples who make disciples wherever we go, and we desire to see the Kingdom of God transform everything in our reach. How does that happen? Through people. You and me. The men and women who fill our building each Sunday. We are called to change the world through the power of the Holy Spirit – right where we are, with the gifts and abilities we have. In school, at work, at home. Developing leaders means we are intentionally investing in people, pointing out their strengths and weaknesses, and helping them to grow in their capacity to reach people. We desire to develop leaders because we desire to see people changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Leadership is synonymous with discipleship.

In recent weeks, our staff and elders have been thinking through how to build this into our systems and processes so that we can’t help but develop leaders. We are working on ways to make this kind of equipping so natural in our church that we are all being discipled and discipling in different areas all the time. We are putting structures in place that will keep us accountable to this goal of growing leaders so that we aren’t able to consign it to a good idea without any real practical application.

Making it Practical

Our "pipeline" for each ministry at New City looks like this:

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In the area for which I am primarily responsible, New City Kids, we see a few levels of leadership opportunities:

  • Lead Self: Volunteer | Loves and cares for our kids and supports the gospel-centered teaching in the classrooms
  • Lead Others: Teacher | Organizes lessons and engages kids with the gospel in a way they can understand
  • Lead Leaders: Class Coaches and Team Leaders | Class Coaches help give direction and support to those teaching each age group, and Team Leaders organize and administer effective systems to welcome people in
  • Lead Ministry: Children’s Director | Guides the mission and vision of the ministry and supports the leaders

Some of these levels of leadership are already in place and just need greater support and direction. Others will be brand new opportunities for our people to stretch themselves, step into new areas of leadership and responsibility, and grow as disciples of Christ. At all of these levels, we desire to see New City Kids team members grow in their understanding and love of the gospel. We want the ministry of our kids classes to serve not only the kids and their parents, but the many faithful volunteers by helping them to live in light of the gospel. The goal is not to move everyone all the way through the pipeline, like finishing a course or training program, but to put concrete systems in place that allow us to disciple our people in every area. Some will move through each level of the pipeline, but the people who don’t are still leading the ministry and growing in Christ.

I’ll be honest. It’s tempting to keep all of the responsibility for myself. To hoard the areas of leadership because I fear letting go of control. But the truth is that this is God’s ministry at New City, I am just a steward. And if I fail to steward well the people in my sphere of influence, I miss the opportunity to make disciples who make disciples. God is not limited by our failures, but he has chosen to advance his kingdom through his people. We get to participate in the amazing work of redemption and restoration that God is doing in the world and in Macon, GA, and he is calling many more to join in that work. The stakes are too high to not develop leaders.

 

Lesson from my garden: The Fruit Comes from The Root

Would you all believe that this year, while I didn’t say anything to Marilyn or anyone else, deep down inside I expected to have a bumper crop from my garden this year?  Really, I had already gotten prepared to brag and boast about the great green thumb that I have (or supposedly have).  Please mind you that all I really know about gardening is that if you plant something in good soil it ought to grow. 

This year I reasoned that if I till my garden early and then wait a few weeks and then till it again I could kill the weeds.  This would be so much easier than pulling up weeds the root by hand. I did that and then waited a few more weeks and tilled the ground a third time supposedly assuring me that there would be few if any weeds. 

As fate would have it, as the months continued I discovered that I had a hernia for which I had to have surgery.  Because of having surgery, I can no longer till the soil or pull weeds.  Over the course of weeks with lots of rain and watering my garden I soon discovered that I had more weeds than I’ve ever had before.  Why did I have all of these weeds?  The real problem was that I never really got rid of the weeds. I merely turned them over in the soil. 

So then what are the lessons that I learned from this disaster of a garden that is inundated with weeds, ugly and out of control?  The writer of Hebrews said this in Hebrews 12:15-16. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” This statement comes in the context of submitting to God’s discipline of us as an expression of His love for us, and His training and correcting process to help us live a life pleasing to Him and for our good. 

·       Sometimes it seems easier to bury things, leave them alone, or simply turn them over as opposed to getting them out in the open.  It would have been better if I had taken the time to pull the weeds out of my garden as they appeared and doing away with them permanently as opposed to just turning them over and hoping that they would go away for good. 
Sometimes we experience problems with others, difficulty in living, and other real issues because we have sin in our lives that are rooted in our pride, selfishness, lack of forgiveness, covetousness, lust, or whatever.  Those problems, difficulties, and issues are the fruit that comes from the root of our sins.  Rather than truly acknowledge our sins to Jesus and follow God’s instructions for true cleansing, repentance, and making things right, we find easier ways to turn them over or get busy enough to forget them.
Sooner or later they spring up again. We are unable to experience real victory in areas of our issues, problems, & difficulties, because most of the sinful issues with which we struggle are the fruit of something deeper. Sometimes our deep rooted sins that we just turn over can lead to anger and bitterness which we can’t seem to overcome.  Often these things lead to broken relationships, anger, bitterness, and a host of other undesirable fruit.

·       Just like the weeds in my garden have to be pulled up from the root, so also we have to deal with the real sins that are the root of our sinful fruit.  God extends His grace to us to obey Him and submit to His will and His ways in all things. That is why the writer of Hebrews stated that we should, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.”
The way we obtain God’s grace in all matters is to confess our sins because He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  In doing so we obtain His grace in the matters with which we hurt or struggle.   What’s really exciting about getting to the root of our issues is that, “… no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”  In other words when we deal with the root we avoid the fruit that causes us so much trouble.  

So then what is this great lesson for life that I learned from the weeds in my garden?  Look inside yourself for the root.  The psalmist said in Ps 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"

With a sincere and upright heart ask Jesus to reveal your sins.  Then you can confess them and forsake them.  Prov 28:13 states, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who  confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”  The problems, issues, and difficulties brought on by sin will surely pass away if you realize that the fruit comes from the root.

Lesson from My Garden: Faithfully Witnessing Is the Right Thing to Keep Doing

Every year I try to have a garden.  I don’t really know why I like having a garden, but I do.  Two years ago, we moved into another house and I planted a garden the very first year.  My back yard is characterized by that good old Georgia red clay in which I started my garden.  First I had to till that red clay.  What I found in tilling the red clay was that underneath it was some better soil.  When the better soil mixed with the red clay it provided a better environment for which to plant vegetables. 

In addition to tilling the soil, I added fertilizer to the soil to better nourish the plants and to hopefully give the plants a better opportunity to bear fruit.  Of course, I had to water the garden consistently so that the plants could absorb the nutrients from the ground and produce fruit.  Ultimately, I had no idea how my garden would turn out.  I had to wait on mother nature to work underneath the ground in order to see the fruit.  The garden did okay.  I got sweet potatoes, peppers, collard and turnip greens, and cucumbers. 

So what are the lessons that I learned from my garden about being a faithful witness for Jesus?

·       Whenever we tell people about Jesus we do so by faith. We witness in faith not knowing what God is doing or what He has already done in the heart of that person. Just like the soil in my garden, people’s hearts have to be prepared to receive the gospel. When we witness we may be JUST tilling the soil.

·       God’s word and the work of the Holy Spirit are the ingredients that when mixed with a person’s heart makes the person susceptible to the gospel. So whenever we take steps of faith to tell people about Jesus and how they can know Him or when we invite them to church to hear the message of Jesus, we are either planting which may include tilling or we are watering their hearts with the fertilizer of God’s word or the witness of His people living in fellowship with each other.

·       Ultimately, just like I never have any idea how my garden will turn out, so we have no idea what is going on in the hearts of the people to whom we witness or bring to church.  The Holy Spirit and God’s word work together in people’s hearts & spirits just like the fertilizer works in ways unknowingly to us to produce fruit, i.e. salvation.  Therefore we must be persistent in praying for the salvation of people, sharing the gospel, or inviting people to church and other fellowships because in doing so we are either tilling, planting or watering.

·       Paul said this in 1 Cor 3:6-9  -  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers.

So then what is the overriding but simple lesson that I got from my garden?  Be persistent in praying for the salvation of others, witnessing to others, and inviting them to church by faith.

The Call to Lead: Missional Communities

This post is Part 2 of our The Call to Lead series. You can find Part 1 here.

Over the past couple of months, the staff and elders have been going through the book, Designed to Lead, by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck. We have been talking and brainstorming lots about developing leaders within our church; for our church and for our city. We have been creating leadership development "pipelines" for each of our ministry areas.

Leadership Development

Todd Adkins, in reference to leadership development, says "a critical part of leadership is recognizing that your fruit grows on other people's trees." We hold this true, but we're not talking about harvesting where you haven't planted or some kind of winner-takes-all leadership model. I am talking about a style of leadership reproduction as the primary way to cultivate multiplication.

Every role in leadership is a temporary role, and every leader is not successful until they have developed at least one successor. In the Great Commission, Jesus calls us to "make disciples," not just to grow and develop ourselves. Paul also challenges church leaders not to do all the ministry themselves but to train and “equip the saints for the work of the ministry" (Eph. 4:12). Far too often in our society and sometimes in our churches, leadership is seen more as a position of power than a position of responsibility. Development takes time and effort. It must occur up close. Jesus rarely did the work of the ministry by Himself. Sure, He spent time alone, but when He ministered to people, His disciples were always nearby. He even gave them responsibility and space to lead. He shared responsibility.

Our "pipeline" for each ministry at New City looks like this:

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Why Do MC's Need a Pipeline?

By God's grace, New City is growing! This is great news. We have welcomed so many new people into our family this summer (a time of the year that is slow for most churches). Most of our MC's are exploding in size; many of which have 30-40 people attending their gatherings each week. The intended size for an MC is 12-15 adults with room to welcome in outsiders. Long story short: we need to plant more MC's. To plant more MC's we need more leaders. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

As an MC leader, it is easy to take on the most responsibility and do everything yourself. This is painful and counterintuitive for everyone involved. We need to constantly be training and equipping others to lead and progress in their giftings. This requires us relinquishing control and stepping into life-on-life discipleship.

Our "pipeline" for Missional Communities is a plan of action for developing everyone into the person God has designed them to be. It is a plan to help everyone live their lives fully in light of the gospel. Our Missional Community pipeline looks like this:

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This will look different for every person and not everyone will go through every level of the pipeline. We are simply wanting to create a model and plan to help us equip and develop everyone at New City into all God has created them to be. There is overlap in some of these pipeline levels; for example, an MC Host (Lead Servant) doesn't have to be equipped to facilitate sermon discussion time to host an MC gathering, but they certainly could be. So, don't feel limited within these categories. This is simply a way to streamline leadership development.

Implementing Pipelines and Leadership Development

The defining legacy of any leader is the quality of those you develop and your ability to transition out of your role -- at any time and for any reason. Whether sacred or secular, organizational leadership matters. We are called to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. If we do so, we will see unity in the body (Philippians 2), maturity measured in the fullness of Christ (Colossians 2) and a multiplication of disciples making disciples (Matt. 28:18-20) that hasn't been seen since the early church.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me and I will be happy to answer any questions or provide any help that I can.

To the Ends of the Earth...through college students

photo from mercer.edu

photo from mercer.edu

I get really excited about this time of year. I mean REALLLLLLY excited.
Colleges are starting up their Fall semesters and its Mercer's move-in weekend!  #gobears

I love seeing the new faces on Sunday mornings - all smiles and laughs as the new year starts. I love hearing the voices of students who love Jesus loudly singing with us. I love how so many of the students who come jump into serving roles with kids, students, the band and all sorts of places. I can't wait to get our students back and meet our new students!
BUT
There is something more than just students at New City that excites me as I think about this weekend and this Fall - it is how those students will go places and reach people that most of us will have no access to, it is how they will travel to the ends of the earth as both students and graduates... and we have an opportunity through them to see eternity changed.

It is true that some students come and go and never connect. But it is equally true that many students come and stay connect deeply with New City. I remember when we were starting New City - we held an informational meeting at a small cafe downtown. A handful of people showed up to hear more. Two of them were Mercer students - Meredith and Catfish. They were dating at the time. They came to help us start New City. They connected. They served. They joined a missional community. They married. They had a son. And Catfish became a doctor. Just this summer they accepted a position close to home and 11 years later, they left us. But they leave taking a bit of us with them. They leave with a deeper love for Jesus and greater understanding of what it means to be His family. They take that to South Georgia.

Zac and Mia Rice come to mind.  They served us so well. They also were served well as Arthur coached and discipled Zac because Zac served in our student ministry. They recently moved to  California and take with them a greater gospel depth. 

Jessica Encalrd. Goodness. New City was the first protestant church Jessica had ever been to. She knew about Jesus but she didn't really know Him. Jessica became a believer. She was baptized at New City. She and Sam were our first wedding at the Cherry Street building. Jessica and Sam live in the Atlanta area. She's a doctor now. They have a beautiful family and serve in their church.

In the last month or so I received a message from Davis Lacey. Davis was a part of New City during his Mercer years. He contacted me to let me know he was gearing up to plant a church and he wanted me to know that New City had a great influence in his decision to plant.

I remember meeting, talking with and praying for a Mercer couple - Dan and Alex. Alex was a newer believer and Dan was a not yet believer. They joined an MC who loved them and prayed for them. I counseled them and married them. I watch them now, mostly from a distance - Dan supporting and loving his growing family well it seems, Alex serving in Young Life and pointing so many to Jesus.  Aiken, SC doesn't know how blessed they are to Have Dan and Alex.

I could go on and on. New City has influenced countless students through years who are now all over the country and even the world. So often they leave us changed forever by God's grace. When they do, they take that with them, wherever they go.  This morning I have shed a few tears thinking about them and how amazing God has been through these years at New City. They are all evidences of God's grace!

This weekend a whole new batch of students will likely be with us.
Where will they go?  Who will they touch?  Will they marry? Have children? Raise families? Will they plant churches? Will they travel to distant places?
YES they will. They will do all of that and more.
And we have an opportunity to send them well prepared - to send them loved - to send them saturated in the beautiful news of Jesus - to send them changed by the gospel.

New City, please don't miss this.
Please don't overlook what God is doing here.
Please don't miss our opportunity to reach the ends of the earth....through college students.

Lesson from Old Concrete Workers: I Got It!

About this Series:  One of the characteristics of my personality is that I love to tell stories (not lies).  I think I acquired this from the way that I grew up.  In my childhood days we use to sit around and listen to my father, mother, uncles, aunts, and other adults tell about various events from their day. Those stories were often true, sometimes exaggerated, exciting, funny, sometimes sad and would you believe that many of those stories and the practice of telling these stories are still inside me.  

What’s interesting about these stories is that most all of them always had some sort of lesson for life in them.  Over the years as I unconsciously picked up this practice of telling stories based on things that happened no matter how insignificant they seemed at the time.  I found that there are so many lessons for life just in the simple things of life.  These lessons can drive into our hearts biblical truths that enable us to better live our lives for Jesus.  I thought that it might be encouraging for some to get some spiritual insight for living just from the simple things in life.   So here we go!

Lesson Learned From Some Old Concrete Workers: I Got It!  

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Way back in June 1978 I finished my enlistment in the Marine Corps.  After I got home I needed to work so I went to work with a man from my neighborhood who was a concrete finisher.  He was up in age and so were some of the men that worked with him.  My first day on the job he had the contract to pour the concrete floor for a large building.  On the way to the job I very distinctly remembered going over in my mind that I would never allow an old man to out work me. I determined on the way to work to be the very best worker on the job.  

Once we got to the job they explained to me what I had to do.  Since I have no experience with concrete I was the laborer. My job was to haul concrete in a wheelbarrow from one side of the building to the other.  As soon as the first truck arrived and was prepared to unload the concrete I stood by the concrete chute ready to take the concrete across the building to the finishers.  The truck poured out this heavy substance. It filled the wheel barrow and away I went across the floor, holding the wheelbarrow high because I was a young strong man and able to work at an unprecedented pace, or so I thought.  

The old concrete worker who hired me, Herman Stone said to me.  “Don’t walk so fast with that concrete!  I said to him, “I got it!”  Then he said to me, “You are holding that wheelbarrow too high.” I said to him, “I got it!”  Next he said, “you’re not going to be able to work all day moving that fast!”  I said to him, “I got it!”  
Then another worker said, “Leave him alone.  He’s got it!”
Then another worker asked the others, “do you all think he’s got it?”  
They all said, “yeah!  He’s got it!”  

At the time they were working kind of slow.  Little did I know that as they worked they would pick up the pace.  Now they had two wheelbarrows on the job.  One stayed with the truck and the other one was the one that I carried across the floor.  As soon as I got back with the empty wheelbarrow the other was already full so there was no rest in between carrying loads.  This took place in the middle of July.  
Those skilled professional workers who had been utilizing their skills for their entire lives were about to teach me a lesson that is still with me today.  They began working faster.  
As they worked they talked and laughed.  Interesting is that their conversation was all about me.  They began to have fun at my expense.  Here is sort of how their conversation went.  
Do you all think he’s going to work out?  Yeah! He’s got it!  Look like he’s slowing down.  Is he giving out of gas?  No! He’s got it!  Look at him go. He’s still going.  He’s got it!
By this time I had been working only about an hour.  I looked up and there were two or three more concrete trucks in line waiting to empty their load of concrete into my wheel barrow.  

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I wasn’t saved then but I called on the Lord. I said Oh Lord I’m in trouble.  Now remember that Mr. Stone told me to quit lifting the wheelbarrow so high. Well I was wearing down fast. My clothes were soaking wet with sweat. My eyes had turned red. I soon stumbled over the wire on the floor and wasted a load of concrete.  One of the men shouted, Are you all right?  Before I could answer another one said, “Yeah!  He’s alright!” “He’s got it!”
Another one said it doesn’t look he’s got it.  Another one said, Yeah he’s got it!  He’s a good worker!  Don’t Y’all see he’s got it. They were laughing their tails off at my expense.  

Now the real problem that I had was that I was too prideful to say that I needed help.  In addition, when they were first trying to show me how to use a wheelbarrow and pace myself I wouldn’t listen.  I had no idea that there was a method to using a wheelbarrow that would prevent me from getting tired and worn out.  Right after that I was standing at the concrete truck and holding the wheelbarrow as the concrete was being poured out and the wheelbarrow and I fell over right at the truck.  This started another round of conversation and laughter with the men talking loud enough for me to hear with all of the conversation leading to the one statement.  He’s got it!

I was getting weaker, slower, and felt like I was going to pass out.  
By God’s grace (whom I didn’t know at the time) I managed to make it to lunch.  
For maybe the first time in my life I chose to sleep during lunch instead of eating.  

While I was lying down Mr. Stone set beside me and he said these words.  Now you can listen to me if you want but working the way you are you won’t last long.  You have to work the work instead of letting the work work you.  One thing you are doing wrong is that you are lifting the wheelbarrow.  We don’t lift the wheel barrow. We hold it and push it with our legs.  Next you’re trying to move too fast.  Just keep a steady pace.  By then I was embarrassed and broken but I listened.  When it was time to go back to work I allowed him to show me how to work and I listened.  

God has so wonderfully given us instructions for life and godliness.  Often our pride gets in the way and we refuse to listen to Him or follow His instructions by faith in obedience. This causes great pain and difficulty in living even for some to the point of giving up on life.  

You see when it comes to living none of us have it.  I didn’t have it hauling concrete nor do I have it living life. What I do know is that Jesus Christ has it all and knows all.  Isn’t it wonderful that we have a loving, merciful, and compassionate Savior who still reaches out to us and desires to show us the way.  Proverbs 29:1 states,  He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.  I remember that day as if it was yesterday.  I had no regard for the skill that those men possessed.  I assume that by my youth and strength and power that I could do better than they.  I thought that I had it.  

By the end of the day one thing that I learned was that I needed to learn from men who have been that way before. Jesus lived the life that we couldn’t live and showed us how to live, love, and serve one another.  Pride is that thing in us that elevates us over Jesus and says, “I got it!”  We must willingly and eagerly submit to His will so that as we go through life we do so in a way that makes it easier to live and glorify Him.  

It took a group of old concrete workers to teach me lessons that would later benefit me as a Christian.   I learned to esteem others more highly than myself.  I learned that pride indeed comes before a fall.  The most humble lesson that I learned is that I don’t have it.  All I have is Jesus and in Him I have everything pertaining to life and godliness.   
 

The Call to Lead

For the last couple of months, New City staff and elders have been reading the book Designed to Lead by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck. The book begins with the premise that the Church should be a locus, or center point, for leadership development. One reason for this is that “leadership, apart from the work of God, cannot produce true flourishing or eternal results.” (p. 2)

And we aren’t just talking about leadership within the Church, though that is certainly a need. The leaders that are developed within the Church can impact our culture on a much larger scale, as they become leaders in many areas of life. In other words, “If we believe, as William Temple stated, ‘The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members,’ then all of humanity benefits from the leaders created and formed in the church.” (p.3, emphasis added)

Why We Need Leaders

We are at an amazing place now at New City. We have grown so much, and God continues to bring new people through our doors just about every week! As attendance increases, the need for volunteers does as well. It’s a really great problem to have! We are so thankful.

As we have grown, we have also begun to feel the need for more leaders acutely and in every area. Sometimes the easiest thing for those leading is to just do everything themselves. However, by doing so, they wear themselves out, and, even worse, do a disservice to those they lead by failing to disciple and develop leadership skills.

The challenge in leadership development is that it takes WORK! It isn’t random. Leaders don’t just spring up out of nowhere. There has to be a plan, a strategy for development and training. It is an investment of time, energy and other resources. The cost can be great, but we believe the reward is even greater as we begin to see our culture changed and the gospel advanced.

What now?

For that reason, we have begun developing leadership “pipelines” in each of our ministry areas. A pipeline is a clear and concise plan. Leadership pipelines name the different levels of leadership and define the character qualities, skills and responsibilities corresponding with each level. Most simply, the pipeline shows the “goal” and how to get there.

Some of you may not see yourselves at leaders. You read all this about development and pipelines, and maybe you’ve already dismissed yourself as a candidate. DON’T DO THAT! We are all called to bring others around us to Jesus. We are all called to play a role in shaping our culture, at home, work, and play. That’s leadership! You are called whether you feel like a leader or not. And God is faithful to equip the ones He has called.

It will look different for everyone. Not everyone will move through the pipelines, and that’s ok. Our hope is to provide the framework and plan, to help others identify potential leaders in every area of ministry, and to help all of you develop the gifts God has given you.

The Goal

As with everything we do at New City, the ultimate goal is to see lives transformed as people begin living in light of the gospel. We don’t just want to develop leaders for the ministry’s sake, or to make our jobs easier. We don’t want to develop leaders just so we can say we did and check it off the list. It is so much bigger than that. There is a whole world of people who need to hear the good news of Jesus. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few (Matt. 8:37). The goal is to raise up leaders who will labor for the sake of the gospel. Won’t you join us?

In the coming weeks, you will be introduced to pipelines in our different ministry areas. If you have questions, please feel free to contact an elder or staff member, and we will be glad to answer!

Back to School and Back to Church: 5 Ways to be Missional on Sunday Morning this Fall

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Summer! So many plans. So much fun.
Trips.
Vacation.
The lake.
The pool.
Cookouts.
No school.
No homework.
Playing till dark.
No real schedule.
It really is a great time. And it's hard to believe that another summer has come and gone.

This week many schools start the new school year. As trips come to an end and homework and sports practice take the place of schedule-less nights and playing till dark, we'll settle back into routines and rhythms. This provides us with a great opportunity as a church!

Fall is typically one of the biggest times of growth in churches. As families who have been scattered begin to settle into their new school routines many find it a great time to add new routines or re-establish the long lost routine of church. 

So here are a few ways that we can make the most of this opportunity as a church:

  1. INVITE
    There is really no bad time to invite someone to join you at church, but a great time to invite someone is when they are more likely to say yes. Fall is one of those times - a new day, a new start and new routines. Even if you have invited someone in the past, Fall provides a great opportunity for a re-invite. So look for an opportunity, make an opportunity and invite someone to join you at our Sunday gathering.
     
  2. COME EARLY
    Visitors are almost always early! They arrive 15 minutes early so that they can easily find their way to the building, find parking and get to a seat. Statistically, visitors decide in their first 6 minutes whether or not they will return. That means their first minutes are crucial. When they arrive they should find friendly faces and welcoming friends. They should be cared for and made to feel like family. If no one is here to welcome them and care for them because we arrive 15 minutes late, that will never happen. So get up, get moving and as part of God's mission, come early.
     
  3. STICK AROUND
    Instead of rushing out after our last song on Sunday, take a minute to speak to people you don't know. This has to be an intentional thought and plan. If its not, we are prone to rush to lunch or check in with the friends we haven't see since last Sunday. Make it a goal to meet someone you don't know. If you think they may be visiting, ask, "Hey, I don't think we've met before. Are you new to New City?" The end of the service is not too late to help someone feel at home with us.
     
  4. ASK ABOUT MCs
    When you do meet someone new, even if they aren't a first time visitor, ask if they are involved in an MC. If they aren't, invite them to your MC. Everyone is looking for a place to belong, a family to be a part of. We were created with that need. Invite them to join you at your next MC gathering.
     
  5. FOLLOW UP
    How you follow up depends on what you talked about. If they agreed to check out your MC, plan to follow up with them so you can give directions - maybe by phone, email or social media. If your conversation didn't get to that point, then look for them in the coming weeks on Sunday and make sure you speak to them if they return. This goes a long way in making visitors feel like they are known and welcomed.

Our mission at New City is to help others live in light of the gospel. Doing that takes time with people, time in our worship gatherings, time in our MCs and often time one on one. We will only get that time as people feel welcomed enough to return. That's where you come in.

In Colossians 4:5 Paul urges the church to make the most of every opportunity that they had with those not a part of the church. Let's make the most of the opportunity that this Fall brings.

The Missionary God and His Missionary People

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Last week our New City students had the opportunity to go to Radius Camp in Auburn, AL. I want to say a huge thank you to our leaders that went as well as the staff of Radius Camp for serving and putting on these camps. It was such an awesome week of learning and growing for all of us, leaders included! Relationships were strengthened between our students. We saw many of the students getting out of their comfort zone and opening up. I’ve heard more than once, “Wow! I didn’t know he/she was so fun and bubbly!.” 

The theme of the week was “The Missionary God and His Missionary People.” From the very beginning of time, God was missional. Though we turn from Him, He pursued us and our hearts. That pursuit was ultimately exemplified through Christ taking on flesh and stepping down into creation. He lived a perfect life and bore our punishment on the cross. He rose victoriously from the grave. He did all that to save those who would believe. He was missional. 

Each day we had the privilege of serving different local ministries in the area. Part of our team served at New Birth ministries and the others served at Big House ministry. New Birth ministries helped those who were coming out of substance abuse and addiction, providing housing and programs to help. Our students helped organize piles of donated clothes as well as do yard work. They were able to sit and listen to their testimonies of God’s faithfulness and missionary heart. Some of our students even shared their testimonies as well. Big House ministry helps provide clothing, toys, and school supplies to foster families. Although stipends are given to foster families, often times it isn’t enough. Big House serves by receiving donations from the community and providing for the needs of children in foster care. We were able to organize tons of clothes they had as well as do some much needed yard work. 

I was so encouraged by everyone’s attitudes and willingness to serve. It was extremely hot, yet our students continued to step in and serve without the slightest complaint…well, maybe a little bit…but not much! :) I’m very proud of our students and the work that was done. 

Our students’ eyes were opened to the fact that we are disciples called to make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). If you are a Christian, being a missionary is not an option. As school starts back up with different clubs, classes, and sports, each student picked one person in mind they were going to share the gospel with. Would you pray for our students? Pray that God would continue to grow them in seeing what it means to be a missionary right where they are. Pray that they would be continually reminded of God’s love and His missionary character. Pray that our students’ eyes would be open to the opportunities to share the gospel with their friends. 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
— Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)
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New Kids Classes for Fall

A new school year brings lots of changes for our families, and also for our New City Kids classes! Beginning the first Sunday in August - 8/5/18 - we will launch a new set of classes on Sunday mornings. 

The following classes will be offered during both the 9:00 and 11:00 services:

Nursery: infants to 2 years old
New City Zoo: 2 and 3 years old
City Park: 4 and 5 years old (including kindergarten)
Theater: 1st & 2nd grade
New City Cafe: 3rd, 4th, & 5th grade

This is also the week that our grade school kids will move up to their new class (even if they haven't started school just yet). 

Why make changes? 

At New City, we believe everything we do is part of our mission - and God's mission in the world: to see the gospel of Jesus Christ transform everything within our reach. That means we use every opportunity and every tool we have to tell the good news! As we continue to grow and see more kids come through our doors, we want to make sure we have the space to welcome them in so they can hear the good news too. Our building and our kids classes are just some of the resources God has entrusted us with to share in his mission. We want to steward them well!

Our younger classes are our largest age groups, so we are rearranging to make more room! This change will help keep each class balanced and below capacity so we have plenty of room to grow. 

What are they learning?

We have two curricula running simultaneously in our kids classes, but the goal of each is the same: to teach kids the gospel by showing them how the whole Bible points to one big story! The 4K and K class just restarted the Jesus Storybook Bible, while the 1st-5th graders are working through The Gospel Project. We also recently added videos to both programs to enhance engagement and retention of the stories!

What should I do now?

Celebrate with us! Our classes are growing, which means more people are hearing the good news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection week after week.

Prep your kids! If they will be moving to a new class soon, try to get there early and show them around. Talk about the theme of their new class in advance and help get them excited!

Jump in! Will you join us in the mission? Our fantastic team of volunteers participates in making disciples and advancing God's kingdom by faithfully presenting the gospel each week, modeling Christ's love to their classes, and welcoming new families. We would love to have you join us!

Thank you to the many people who make the ministry of New City Kids possible!

 

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.