Church

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!

Enjoying God's Mission For You This Summer

photo by Carlos Flores

photo by Carlos Flores

As children, summertime was always a time of playful anticipation, dreams of family vacations, and the relief of no more homework. Children love the summer because there is no schedule and they get to take a break from school. The problem we face at times as parents is preparing them to return to school at the end of summer. Granted, some children look forward to returning to school, but my experience is those children are the rare exception.

Parents usually have the opposite experience of summertime. The children are now home, and those well-oiled schedules have been thrown out of the window. Every summer I get phone calls or requests for lists of free camps in the local area with the hopeful plea of providing activities for their children to engage in during the summer. A recent conversation made me think about another break that we are often tempted to take…that is a break from our church family.

Over the next couple of months, we will begin a series that will assist us in staying on the mission that God has called us. As you consider your summer plans, take a moment and keep up with this series in order to enjoy one of the best seasons of the year to live as a family of missionary servants.

(The following is a post from Todd Engstrom on Verge)

We are family.

Summertime always prompts images of grilling in the backyard, vacation road trips, watching baseball, and adventures in the neighborhood.

In the church, it’s often a season where we “take a break” from ministry and community. I’ve always found that idea somewhat odd when I consider my identity in Christ. I don’t really ever “take a break” for an entire season from my earthly family, so why would I skip out on my spiritual family for three months?

My family rhythm certainly changes in the summer, but it doesn’t disappear entirely. The kids are out of school, and we’re on the go more, but we don’t stop teaching our kids about Jesus and His Word. We certainly don’t cease to be brothers and sisters in Christ with our church family during the summer either.

What if your community continued striving to be a spiritual family this summer, rather than pushing pause?

In my experience, there are a few things that will help a community thrive in a season where many fade away. Here are three ideas to consider implementing:

Gather in new ways.

Because summer is a new season where rhythms change, take the opportunity to change up your gathering. Instead of the regular weekly routine, try gathering on Friday evenings for a BBQ on the deck and some low-key conversation. If you have younger kids, let them have a sleepover and stay up way too late, while the adults enjoy some conversation outside.

Summer is also a great time to connect your community with those who don’t know Jesus. Try gathering at the park or the pool, and intentionally have folks invite their neighbors. We call this a “Third Place” at The Austin Stone, and it’s our primary way of engaging in God’s mission with our community.

Share the facilitation of MC conversations.

Because of vacation schedules and other events, most people will end up attending a group, on average, six times over the summer. The flow of a group will inevitably be interrupted. Create a schedule with your MC members for different conversation leaders to create the questions you work through and guide the discussion.

Change the way you ask questions within the conversation time. Utilize questions like “what was the most helpful thing you learned?” and “how did this change the way you interacted with your family/friends/neighbors this week?”

Summer is also a great time to incorporate the use of digital technology to help foster conversation. Rather than depending entirely on the face-to-face gathering, try having an ongoing discussion through email, a Facebook group, or even offering vacationing families to Skype into the conversation.

Vacation together.

This one requires planning, but it’s the best thing my community does – we enjoy a vacation with one another. We’ve done it a number of ways – going to a lake house, road tripping to the mountains, and going to family camp together.

Having our entire families interacting and creating memories with one another fosters such unique and authentic community that it’s compelling for our neighbors who don’t know Jesus.

A week of community vacation also presents an opportunity for more intentional time for discussion, as well as much more informal time for sharing life and dreaming about the future of your community. You can do so much more in one focused week than you can in an entire semester’s worth of group gatherings!

Enjoy your summer to the glory of God.

Summer is a hard time to start new things, but it’s a great time to adapt a lot of your existing practices to the challenges of a summer rhythm. Most importantly, though, is to rejoice in this season that God has graciously given for His glory and our good. Summer is a blessing to be enjoyed, and an opportunity to change up your normal rhythms.

Enjoy it!

 

Monica Lewinsky breaks her silence and admits thoughts of suicide. Are you thinking about suicide? If you're not, chances are someone you know is. This story will blow every circuit in your brain!

depressed-man
depressed-man

Years ago my wife and I rented a house out in the country in Manassas, VA.  It was our first house together.  We lived on a commuter road, which means that there was heavy traffic in the morning as folks drove to work and heavy traffic in the evening as folks went home from work. One day shortly after we moved in as I was watching all the cars drive by our house, I felt a strong conviction to put a sign out by the road that said something about God.  Then I thought, that’s crazy.  I prayed about it for a couple days and said, “Lord are you wanting me to put a sign out by the road about you?”  I told the Lord, “I tell you what, if you want me to put a sign out by the road about you I need you to provide a sheet of plywood and the paint.”

Later that week as I was push mowing the tall grass in my new back yard, I heard a thump sound as the mower went over the grass.  I backed up the mower to see what made the sound and it was half a sheet of plywood.  I thought well that’s funny.  All I need now is some paint.

I picked up the half sheet of plywood and decided it to put it in the unfinished basement of our new rental home.  This would be the first time I went to the basement.  As I began to walk downstairs with the plywood, I noticed several shelves of paint.  What?!

Well Lord in just a few short days you provided the wood and the paint.  What message do you want me to write?  The only message that kept coming to mind was simple.  The message was, “Jesus Loves You!”

I painted it that night and put it out by our mailbox late on a Sunday night.  As I stood back to read it I noticed I had painted the letters too small to read if cars went flying by.  I said, “Lord, the only way people are going to be able to read this sign is if they are driving very slowly.

The next morning I woke up and there was about six inches of snow on the ground.  A surprise snowstorm hit our area.  Cars were driving very slowly past our house and more importantly past the sign.  I could not believe it.  There was no snow in the forecast.

I decided every Sunday night I would repaint the sign white and put a new message on it.

About six months after the first sign went out I received a note on my car windshield in my church’s parking lot one Sunday after church.  Our church was about thirty to forty minutes away from our house.

The note was from a man who attended our church.  He wrote about how six months ago his world was turned upside down.  His wife left him and he lost his job all in the same week.  He felt depressed and worthless.  He decided he was going to end it all and take his life.  As he left his house one morning, he told God that he did not want to live any more and he blamed God for all his trouble.  He did not believe God loved him.  He prayed and said, “God if you are real and if you love me and don’t want to take my life, please give me a sign.”

As he turned down my road, moments later, he saw a sign that read, “JESUS LOVES YOU!”  He burst into tears.  He prayed for a sign and he got a literal sign.  He decided because of that sign he was not going to take his life.

As he was going through the church directory one night he saw that a couple from church lived near him.  When he saw the address, he realized that was the address of the house where he saw the sign.

As I read the letter I began to weep.  I could not believe that our little sign was used in such a powerful way.

Are you thinking about suicide?  Have you been asking God for a sign of His love for you?  The Bible says in Romans 5:8, “but God shows His love for us in that while we are still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus Christ is the ultimate sign that God loves you.   One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 John 5:12 which states, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  The life referred to here is eternal life.

Do you have the Son?

Charlie Colgan thumbs up
Charlie Colgan thumbs up

Soap Box Racer Steps Out of Retirement After 22 Years to Race in Magnolia Street Soap Box Derby

  Greg Wood, age 13 in 1992 with his Soap Box Derby Car.

When New City Church’s Community Pastor Charlie Colgan prayed and asked God to provide a Soap Box Derby Car for this year’s Magnolia Street Soap Box Derby he had no idea the answer to his prayers would come from a fellow pastor in the church.  “For a couple months, I had been praying and searching the Internet for a Soap Box Derby Car for us to race in the derby this year for New City Church.” said Pastor Colgan.  Then this past Monday night at a leaders' meeting he shared his prayer request with fellow leaders.  Colgan said, “After I shared my prayer request, one of our pastors, Family Pastor Greg Wood said, ‘I know where we can get one.’”  Wood then explained that he used to race them when he was thirteen years old and his mom saved his car in her shed since his racing days in 1992.  Pastor Wood said, “If you want a car, you can use my old car.”  After praising God for His provision of a car, Pastors Colgan and Wood wasted no time. The very next morning they met in Colgan’s garage in North Macon to begin to transform their 1992 time capsule into their 2014 race car.  Pastor Wood said, “The last time I sat in this car, I was thirteen years old.”  Colgan said, “It was like the car was frozen in time, it was in perfect condition.”   They prayed for a car and now they are praying they can beat reigning champs Bearfoot Tavern.  When asked if they hope to win.  Colgan replied, “Bearfoot Taven as won two years in a row.  They are going to be tough to beat, but it would be a great ending to a great story to win the derby for New City Church.”

The Magnolia Street Soap Box Derby is Saturday, April 12, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at Washington Park on Magnolia St. in Macon, GA.  For more information please visit http://www.maconderby.com.  Members of New City Church will receive a free t-shirt to show their support of the New City Church Race Team on Race Day.

 

Colgan and Wood getting car ready for 2014 Derby

New City Church's Soap Box Car ready for Saturday's race.

 

To follow Pastor Charlie Colgan on Twitter click here. Or on Facebook click here.

 

In its welfare you will find your welfare...

567class Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.  (Jeremiah 29)

Maybe to you this picture doesn't look like much. Maybe you would argue it really isn't city renewal. But I think you'd be wrong. In fact I'd say this is a beautiful picture of our city's renewal in process.

Six years ago New City Church was rushing to get tables and chairs and sound equipment into our first space downtown - 567 Cherry Street, a small storefront several doors down from our current location.  We were trying to be ready for Macon's Cherry Blossom Festival - just to have music playing and offer free coffee during the festival. We dreamed of our "church" space being a community center that served downtown Macon and worked for its good. We dreamed of a space that would be used 7 days a week for the benefit of art and music. We dreamed of having a tangible impact on our city's renewal.

The picture... back to the picture... While it may not look like much, here's what I see:

  • 9 couples gathered in our art gallery to paint together - creating art. 6 years ago you would never see this - there was very little art programming downtown and no space set up up to do this. I remember the weekend nights that you would be hard pressed to find 18 people in all of downtown before the bar crowd rolled in!
  • 17 students - that's the number of Bibb County public school students who are currently displaying their artwork in The 567's gallery. Our art opening has become an annual event for some of the school system's brightest young artists.
  • 13 schools - that's the number of schools participating in this year's art show.
  • 3 new buildings. You can't really see them outside the windows in the picture but they are there - 3 buildings still being renovated right across the street - an art gallery, a restaurant, and loft apartments I believe.
  • 2 conversations that you definitely don't see. The picture reminded me of 2 recent conversations with different individuals a week or so apart. They aren't a part of New City - have never attended a service and don't attend any church. Both said that New City and The 567 have had a huge impact on the changes we see downtown. Both said that they aren't sure how much of this would have happened as it has without us. Both said that they would be terribly sad if we weren't here.

Maybe I see so much in the picture because of the conversation I just had. The 567 has a brand new co-worker. That's another thing we do here - offer space and some help starting a new business - the hope is that the business will take off and when it does, downtown will have another healthy, thriving, permanent business moving into one of these old spaces. Its his first day with us - so I got to tell our New City story and share with him our dream of seeing a city transformed... for the glory of God and the good of His people.

 

Why Is There a Different Preacher This Week?

For those who may visit New City Church Macon or who may be new, what or who you see on Sunday mornings may seem a little... different. You aren't imagining things!  What we do is different and yes there is a very good chance that the preaching pastor this week is different than last week!

This past summer, 2013, an incredible thing happened - Macon Community Baptist Church merged with New City Church (Below is a video describing the merger).  This merger was an answer to much prayer and has been an incredible blessing.  The merger allows both congregations, as one, to better reach a very diverse city and to become a church that better represents the racial diversity of the city. More than that, the merger brought to New City a very able and gifted Pastor and Preacher - Pastor Lawrence Robinson (left in picture).

Having Pastor Lawrence as a member of the New City Elder Team allowed New City Church to quickly take steps toward launching a second Macon site in North Macon, something that we had been pursuing for a couple of years.  North Macon is not a separate church... New City Macon is 1 Church, meeting in 2 locations.  We share staff, we share resources, we share Missional Communities, we labor together to see the gospel transform ourselves, our church, our city, and the world.

We also share preachers.  Rather than having people choose which site they would attend and connect with based on who is preaching (some will like Pastor Lawrence's preaching better, others may like mine), we ask people to choose a location that meets their geographical needs as well as fits their missional context (who are the people in their sphere of influence and where are they more likely to attend?).  Our primary preachers, myself and Pastor Lawrence will rotate between sites. For this month, January 2014, the rotation is weekly - one week I am in North Macon and the next week I am downtown.  After January the rotation will become "random" - there will be no set pattern for who preaches where.  We hope that this will encourage greater diversity at both sites and will help the people of New City better BE New City Church and follow Jesus rather than following a preacher.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuYXLNUYhaY#t=13