A Place to Belong... and Chili

chili bowl.jpg

Everyone is seeking it, a place to belong, a place where we are known and accepted and even loved. We were created for that, not only finding it with God but with one another.
What’s that got to do with chili?
I’m glad you asked, it’s why we have a chili cook off every year.

I’ve lost count now of how many chili cook offs we have had through our 11 years together but the goal in each is the same - win the chili cook off!! Nooooooooo. The goal is creating a place to belong - a place for our New City people to connect with friends and MC leaders, maybe to meet people they don’t know.

But more than that, our goal is to create a place where those who don’t belong in a gospel-centered family can. Our hope is to create an event that our New City family (that’s you if this is your church home) can not only come and enjoy, but an event that you can invite others to enjoy with you. Our hope is to provide a place where your unconnected friends can connect with your church family. The chili cook off is an opportunity to be missional through relationship.

Many people have given up on church, not because they don’t believe in God or even the work of Jesus, but because they have been hurt by people in the church. The chili cook off is an opportunity to reintroduce those people to your family.

Perhaps for others, their only experience with church is through the many stereotypes they’ve seen and heard about (imagine the strangest of those!). The chili cook off is a great opportunity for those friends to see and experience the truth about our family. Yes we may have a crazy uncle or two, but for the most part we’re just regular people.

In either case, the chili cook off, like our summer lake day, is a fun way to introduce unconnected friends to your family. Its an easy, non-threatening way to give others a place to belong.


Here are 5 ways you should approach November 17’s Chili Cook off
1) Talk about the missional aspect of the event with your spouse and MC.
It’s easy to think of this as “just a church event,” but it should be more than that!

2) Pray and think about who you know that may need a church family to belong with.

3) Invite someone to join you.
Ride together, make chili together or just meet here but take advantage of the opportunity.

4) Come as an MC.
The mission was never meant to be engaged on by individuals. This is a family effort! If your whole MC is gathered, cooking s’mores over a fire and sampling everyone’s chili and hanging out, you provide a natural place for your unconnected friends to connect!

5) After the event pray for God to use the time to connect your friends to your family. Pray as well that they join you at a New City gathering or at your MC.

The Call to Lead: Connect Team

This is Part 5 of our The Call to Lead series. You can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.

Over the past couple of months, the staff and elders have been working hard to develop leadership pipelines for all of our areas of ministry at New City Church. In case you aren’t aware of what I am talking about, go back and read through the previous blog posts in this series (links above). Essentially, leadership pipelines are the systems in place where disciples are developed for various levels of leadership within and outside of the church. The goal is to develop Christian leaders, not only for the church, but also for the world who are equipped and capable to lead as Jesus would lead in all of life.

Leadership Development

We believe that every leadership position should be a temporary role. Leaders should always be looking for and developing future successors. Jesus calls us to “make disciples”, to help other grow and mature to be more like Jesus in all of life. For the Connect Team, as we think about leadership development, our development of people will be equipping them to be Christ-like servant-leaders wherever they are. We want to help develop people to be like Christ in the workplace, in their schools, at home as a spouse or parent, or as a single person. Wherever God has placed our people we want them to live the servant led lifestyle that Jesus modeled.

Our pipeline for all of our ministries at New City looks like this:


As we develop people into Christ-like leaders, it will be a progression that models this pipeline.

Connect Team Pipeline

For the Connect Team, we already have many people who are helping to lead in so many ways. We want to formalize our leadership process in a way that everyone can see the natural progression for leadership. We desire for every Connect Team member to know what it would look like for them to move into a new leadership role within their team; along with that, we want them to be receiving training to be ready to move into a new role.

Our Connect Team Pipeline looks like this:

Connect Leadership Pipeline.jpg

We already have Volunteers, Team Leaders, and a Ministry Leader but we will be introducing Area Leaders over the next few months. There will be three Area Leaders for each team: 1) a Parking Lead, 2) a Greeting Lead, and 3) a Coffee Bar Lead. These positions will be for people who want to lead a few people in a specific area. They will be helping to teach the roles and responsibilities within a particular area as well as train them how to see and develop new leaders. Our goal here is not to create great leaders so our ministries look great and function well (though we believe our teams are great!), our goal is to train and equip Godly disciple-makers who will be great leaders in all of life.

Imagine what it would be like if every believer modeled the life of Christ wherever they eat, work, and play. How amazing would it be for the outside world if we all lived a servant-led life where we truly desired to see others succeed and grow more than we desire our own promotions and gratifications? What a great apologetic for the gospel it would be if we were excited when others succeeded or when others received promotions or raises. I believe this is the life of servant-leadership that Christ has called us to, within and outside of the church. I am so excited for what is happening in and through New City and we are expecting God to do great things in the coming days! If you have any questions or are interested in serving with us or stepping into a leadership role within the Connect Team, please contact me by email. I cannot wait to hear from you and to see what God is going to do through you in the coming days!

25 Simple Ways To Be Missional in Your Neighborhood

We are often thinking through how to be more involved in our community for the sake of the gospel, but at times we can over complicate the simple act of being neighborly and showing hospitality. We can quickly get into a rut of returning home from work, barricading ourselves in our homes until we have to leave for work the next day. This is a challenge that I struggle with, and maybe you do as well.  The following is a post from Josh Reeves posted at Verge that outlines 25 practical ways that we can build relationships with folks right in our own neighborhoods. 

There is nothing mind blowing or earth shattering in this list, but simple ways to be intentional with the rhythms of life you are already living out. As Josh points out, every one of these ideas will not fit your context, but you may find some that work perfectly. Use these ideas as a way to begin brainstorming simple ways to be missional.

I have found that it is often helpful to have practical ideas to start engaging the people around me. Most of the things on this list are normal, everyday things that many people are already doing. The hope is that we would do these things with Gospel intentionality. This means we do them:

  • In the normal rhythms of life pursuing to meet and engage new people. 

  • Prayerfully watching and listening to the Holy Spirit to discern where God is working. 

  • Looking to boldly, humbly, and contextually proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.

Below is a list of my top 25. Not all of these are for everyone, but hopefully there will be several ideas on the list that God uses to help you engage your neighbors. Would love to hear stories of how you have lived some of these out or other ways you have engaged your neighbors.

1. Stay outside in the front yard longer while watering the yard

2. Walk your dog regularly around the same time in your neighborhood

3. Sit on the front porch and letting kids play in the front yard

4. Pass out baked goods (fresh bread, cookies, brownies, etc.)

5. Invite neighbors over for dinner

6. Attend and participate in HOA functions

7. Attend the parties invited to by neighbors

8. Do a food drive or coat drive in winter and get neighbors involved

9. Have a game night (yard games outside, or board games inside)

10. Art swap night – bring out what you’re tired of and trade with neighbors

11. Grow a garden and give out extra produce to neighbors

12. Have an Easter egg hunt on your block and invite neighbors use their front yards

13. Start a weekly open meal night in your home

14. Do a summer BBQ every Friday night and invite others to contribute

15. Create a block/ street email and phone contact list for safety

16. Host a sports game watching party

17. Host a coffee and dessert night

18. Organize and host a ladies artistic creation night

19. Organize a tasting tour on your street (everyone sets up food and table on front porch)

20. Host a movie night and discussion afterwards

21. Start a walking/running group in the neighborhood

22. Start hosting a play date weekly for other stay at home parents

23. Organize a carpool for your neighborhood to help save gas

24. Volunteer to coach a local little league sports team

25. Have a front yard ice cream party in the summer

Do you have some other ideas or ways that you or your Missional Community have engaged your neighborhood? Let us know below in the Comments section!

Missional Tip: Pick one of these ideas and act on it this week.


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!


Five Simple Ways to Serve on Easter

Easter weekend is one of the highest attended church gatherings of the year. This weekend is the celebration of salvation, the death and resurrection of Jesus. Times of worship and celebration at New City includes a Good Friday Service, an Easter Picnic and Egg Hunt, and of course two Easter services on Sunday.

At each of these gatherings, there will be unfamiliar faces, some infrequent attenders and some will be first time guests. We have an opportunity to make a Gospel impression on these folks by loving and serving well.

 Here are 5 ways that you can make an eternal difference this weekend.

  1.  Pray. Pray that the Spirit will give life to dead hearts. Pray for Pastors Andy and Keith as they prepare Good Friday and Easter sermons. Pray for those serving on Sunday as they give of their time. Pray that the Spirit will help you serve others as Jesus has served you.

  2.  Invite. Invite family, friends and co-workers to attend the events this weekend. Invite the coworker or client you have been developing a relationship with for the sake of the Gospel. Invite a neighbor who you have been developing a friendship with. Invite the family member who has drifted away from church. Invite your fellow college student who is still looking for a church home.

  3.  Connect. Arrive 30 minutes before the service starts so that you have time to get your family situated and be available to greet new visitors. Look for people that you may not know, unfamiliar faces. They may have been a part of New City for years, or they may have come for the first time, that’s ok. Introduce yourself and if they are new, invite them to sit with you, walk them over to the Connect Table to get information on New City or introduce them to your MC Leader.

  4.  Accommodate. Park at the most distant spot to free up parking for visitors. Sit towards the front of the Service and towards the middle of the row in order to free up the more easily accessible seats on the ends of the row and in the back. Don’t leave any open seats between your family members or friends, sit close in order to free up seats.

  5. Follow Up. After meeting a visitor, invite them to your MC, exchange information and follow up with them during the week. Facebook is an easy way to get connected with someone, so send them a friend request. Show them that you care by moving beyond the “Welcome to New City” greeting and invite them into the life of New City Church. 

Remember that our vision is to see the gospel transform everything within our reach - ourselves, our church, our city and the world. Remember that our mission is to help people live in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe that we will best fulfill this mission and see this vision come to be as we live as a family of missionary servants, disciples of Jesus making disciples of Jesus.

These are five easy ways to make a difference in the lives of others this weekend. These are simple but powerful ways of serving others, so consider adopting these acts of service as a normal part of your Sunday morning.