community

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.