Radical Missionality - Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself


“Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 

Maybe you’ve heard or read Penn Jillette’s words about Christians sharing the good news of Jesus. Penn Jillette has a pretty unique perspective on this as an atheist. Take a minute now to play the video.

“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? “ Maybe like me you have never really thought of it as hate. That description stings.
But isn’t it true?
At the very least it is loving yourself more than loving someone else and that might as well be hate.
If my house was on fire and you were aware and I wasn’t and you didn’t tell me because you were worried that you might not have all of the right answers to my questions or you were afraid that I might be upset that you rang the doorbell and made my dog bark then you really don’t care about me or the danger I am in - you care about you. And how you might be perceived. And that is not anything close to loving me as you love yourself.
If your house was on fire you would want to know.
If there was genuine danger, you would want someone to tell you.

And if I loved you more than I loved what you thought of me, or at least the same as I love me, I would tell you.
I’m stopping here… to repent for my own lack of love.
And to pray that God would help me to love my neighbor more and myself less.

** This is part 3 in a series of blog posts on Radical Missionality.
Click here for Part 1, “What’s Missing is Radical Missionality.”
Click here for Part 2, “Restore to Us Our Joy”

Radical Missionality - Restore to Us Our Joy

joy of your salvation.png

Anna’s heart, it seems was bursting with joy.
She couldn’t keep what she had seen to herself.
Her story is in Luke 2:
36 Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37 Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. “

I love this story. Anna had been waiting. She stayed at the temple night and day praying, fasting, seeking God and looking for the Promised One. Then it happened. Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple. Simeon the prophet saw them and recognized Jesus as the Promised One. Anna saw what was happening and she too realized that the one she had prayed for, the one she had been waiting for had come! He was there, the savior of God’s people.

We see then that after meeting the family, she talked about the child to EVERYONE who was looking for God to rescue Jerusalem.
Anna told everyone about what she had seen and heard that day in the temple. She couldn’t wait to tell them that the rescuer had come, salvation was near.

Anna was filled with Joy. That’s why she told everyone she could.
Her joy overflowed into telling anyone who would listen.
She didn’t tell them because she had a duty to tell them.
She didn’t tell them because she wanted to be obedient.
She didn’t tell them because she needed to, was expected to, or had to.
She told them because she couldn’t contain the joy. He was here!

He has come, the savior. And he has saved us, those who trust in his life, death and resurrection.
He has forgiven our sins - past, present and even future.
He has taken the righteous wrath of God that we as sinners deserve. He bore that wrath on the cross.
He has not only forgiven our sins but graciously he has granted to us his holiness. We are not just forgiven, we are made holy and pure, without spot or blemish.
He has made us sons and daughters of God, the King.
He has secured for us a place with our Father, forgiven and free forevermore.
He has promised that he is coming back to gather us, God’s children, and when he does he will right all of the wrongs, defeat all of his enemies, and fix all that is broken.

This is beautiful grace. It is a gift. It isn’t what we deserve.
It isn’t what you deserve for your wrongs.
It isn’t what you deserve for your willful rebellion, for the way that you have treated others, the way you have ignored what is good and shunned the father who loves you.
We don’t deserve forgiveness.
What we deserve is wrath.
What we deserve is sin’s penalty - eternal condemnation and separation from God.
This is beautiful grace… which should bring us great joy.

It did at one time, for me. It still does, but I remember those early days, the weeks and months after first seeing the gospel of Jesus Christ as the incredibly good news that it is. I was changed! I wanted to know more, to do more, to tell more because in the moment I believed, I was filled with joy. I understood for the first time the great depth of the Father’s love and the great grace that was needed for someone as sinful as me. That I could be so loved, so desired, so forgiven - it all filled me with joy, the kind of joy that cannot be contained.
That was Anna’s joy.
I want that joy again.
I want that joy for us, New City.
I am praying for it, that God would restore to us the joy of our salvation.
I’m praying that like Anna we would be so overwhelmed with joy, it could not be contained!
I’m praying that my joy and your joy in all that Jesus has done for us and the beauty of his grace toward us would overflow from us like a river of hope and life to everyone around us.
I’m praying that for you.

I think that is where genuine, radical missionality begins, with our own joy in salvation.
That missionality, like Anna’s doesn’t come from a sense of duty.
It isn’t a matter of working for obedience.
We don’t share because we need to, or it is expected or because we have to.
That missionality naturally happens when our joy cannot be contained.

Lord, Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. (Psalm 51:12-13)

Will you pray this with me? For me? For us?
Pray with me that once more we might be filled with that life giving, overflowing joy - for the good of His people and for His great glory.

** This is part 2 in a series of blog posts on Radical Missionality.
Click here for Part 1, “What’s Missing is Radical Missionality.”

What's Missing is Radical Missionality


Something has been missing.
It has been for a little while, maybe a couple of years.
I don’t think it happened all at once. It was more of a drift. An imbalance.
I spoke recently with a pastor friend who expressed a similar drift… the drift away from radical missional engagement.

When New City Church started our deep desire was to see the gospel radically transform the people around us and even our city. Our passion for mission had an edge to it. We were willing and even excited to involve ourselves in places that churches weren’t typically involved. We were willing and even excited to engage with people that other churches wouldn’t engage with. In fact we started New City for that purpose! We planted ourselves and the gospel in the heart of a broken and broke down city because we believed God wanted to do something radical to rescue fallen people far from Jesus.

Below is a blog post from our first year as a church:

The Power of the Kingdom Present

Acts 26: 28 Agrippa replied to Paul, "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian."
I had a great conversation this morning with a downtown friend. He may or may not be a Christian - though spiritual and having a 'Christian' background, I think C. wrestles with Christianity. He is also intrigued by New City's relationship with downtown. So, in the conversation this came up:
C: So, explain to me your vision for the church and the city?
Me: Well, the short is city renewal - we describe it as transformation. In leadership, we often ask the question, 'If the Kingdom of God were present in the city today, what would it look like?' We believe that the church should be a glimpse of the Kingdom, therefore we should see tangible transformation because of the presence of the church.
C: Like what?
Me: Well, if the Kingdom of God were present in Macon, would there be homeless people?
C: No.
Me: We don't believe that our presence will eliminate homelessness in Macon, just as we can't usher in the true and final Kingdom. However, if the Kingdom is present in and through us, then we should make a positive difference in the homeless community.
If the Kingdom were fully present there would be no crime. So, as a church, we ask, 'How can our presence make a difference in downtown crime?'
If the Kingdom were fully present, would there be ugly, broken buildings?
C: No.
Me: So we desire to see a tangible change to the buildings downtown. We will - through volunteers - help the Facade Squad when they line up facades to be worked on.
We believe that the church, as a glimpse of the Kingdom should be an agent of transformation in our city.
C: Keith, that's why I love you guys. 
Hearing what you say makes me want to believe. I feel like the King that Paul pleaded his case to.

The conversation was soon interrupted and C was out the door. I was awed that such a Kingdom vision would carry such power.
29 And Paul said, "I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains."

I miss those conversations.
I still have them on some level, but I cannot help but feel my own drift from radical missionality - from believing that God was going to do something only he could do to save the people around me.

Worse, I feel that I have contributed, as a leader, to the drift of our church from radical missionality.  For even that possibility, I am repenting!
I’m praying that God would re-ignite that passion for the miraculous salvation of those far, far from Him.
I’m praying that as a church, our hearts would burn for those who don’t love and follow Jesus.
I’m praying that we would engage the people that other churches won’t.
I’m praying that we would be overwhelmingly uncomfortable with the lostness all around us.
I’m praying that we would be willing to cross lines and take chances for the sake of those around us and for the glory of our great God.
I’m praying that for myself, for you.
I’m praying that for us - that we would be a people snatching others from the flames of judgment (Jude 1:23).

Lord, may we never be a church that does nothing more than church stuff for church people.  Help us to once more be radically missional - to believe that you want to do amazing things, miraculous things to bring your children close to you. Set our hearts on fire.

Want More Faith and Less Worry in 2019?

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A Practical Tidbit On How To Trust God In Life For All Of Living Life

Some people are enamored with preaching.  I’m not!  I really and truly love preaching on the one hand but I don’t like it on the other hand.  The reason that I don’t like it is because as I study this wonderful perfect word many of my sins and issues are revealed and in some ways my preaching is a pontification of my hypocrisy.  I do however strive to live life in light of the gospel even though often I fail.  With that said this Sunday’s sermon has prompted me to practice even more what I preach.  I stated in Sunday’s sermon that having a good year is more determined by how we honor and glorify Jesus in all things as we live this life by faith.  Therefore I want to share a few tidbits on some practical ways that we can apply the principles of living all of life by faith to my own life.  We can trust God

I.      Because of who He is -  One of God’s attributes is His sovereignty meaning that God controls everything.  For me I have some concerns and some desires of which I have been petitioning him about.  One concern is the opportunity to advance on my job.  So far that has not happen.  What is my responsibility and course of action where I am right now?  First my attitude is to thank God for the job I have and to truly be grateful. Next to work my job as unto Him. I am to be a faithful witness by what I do and how I go about doing it.  Since He is sovereign, He obviously have a reason for not promoting me right now.  One reason I may not have received that advancement is that I am not adequately prepared.  All throughout scripture before God uses a person, He prepares that person.  Moses spent forty years in the wilderness even though he tried to be a leader earlier and ended up killing a man.  David was a shepherd of sheep before he became a leader of people.  Joseph spent time in prison before he took over fully the control of the palace.  In each of these people’s lives while they were in what seemed to be their lowest position in life God was controlling all things for their good and His glory.  He is sovereign.

II.   Because of what He can do -  As a minister of the gospel, I would be the first to tell you how powerful God is and that He can do anything.  My words are perfectly accurate but my actions may contradict my words which ultimately points to the fact that I am not trusting God in life for all of life. The bible teaches us that the hearts of kings are in the hands of the Lord.  It tells us that He opens doors that no man can shut and He shuts doors that no man can open.  If I am truly trusting Him then my faith is not in my ability or my accomplishments but God’s ability to move me up if that is His will.  I know that networking is important.  What better network can any person have than to be connected to the all powerful God who can open doors?  Therefore I must trust in what God can do.

III. What God has promised -  Is there a promise that God has given me on which I  can hold on to by faith?  Here are a few for my consideration and maybe even yours

Ps 37:23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way;

Prov 16:9 - The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Ps 37:5-6 - Commit your way to the Lord;  trust in him, and he will act.

6  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Prov 16:3-4 -  Commit your  work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.   The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

Once I remind myself of who God is, what God can do and the many promises God has given to me (us) then I (we) must go back to the hammer that drives and solidifies my (our) will to have a deeper faith and trust in Him.  That hammer is Jesus!  All that we know about God and have been given to us by God has all been done because of Jesus.  This is what His word tells us in Rom 8:32. “ He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?   It is because of Jesus that we can see how good it is to place our full faith and trust in Him.  So if (when) I (you) come to a circumstance, situation, or decision in life, the fact that God gave us Jesus should be the hammer that drives our faith and trust in Him in all things in life. 

As we move into the New Year my prayer is that these principles will help guide your (my) practice of living by faith in all of life so that 2019 will be your year to glorify our God and Jesus our Savior!

He Who is Mighty Has Done a Great Thing


Oh, the mercy our God has shown
To those who sit in death’s shadow
The sun on high pierced the night
Born was the Cornerstone

Unto us a Son is given, unto us a Child is born

He Who is mighty has done a great thing
Taken on flesh, conquered death’s sting
Shattered the darkness and lifted our shame
Holy is His name

Oh, the freedom our Savior won
The yoke of sin has been broken
Once a slave, now by grace
No more condemnation

Now my soul magnifies the Lord
I rejoice in the God Who saves
I will trust His unfailing love
I will sing His praises all my days

Words and Music by: Kate DeGraide, Rebecca Elliott
© 2014 Sovereign Grace PraiseSovereign Grace Worship


Waiting for Christmas

I am grateful that at New City we take time to dwell in the season of Advent. Many of us are unfamiliar with the traditional church calendar and the traditions that accompany it, and I’m thankful that we are learning to rehearse some of these rhythms of the faith. Advent in particular has been a sweet season of learning to treasure the coming of Christ and celebrate the miracle it is that God would come to dwell with us. Even the simple practice of talking about and planning for the four weeks preceding Christmas helps me to focus my attention on Immanuel and not the warm fuzzy feelings of the season.

Advent means “arrival.” So in this season we talk about, remember, and point to the arrival of the Messiah. We celebrate all month long that God stepped into human history, took on humanity, and walked among us. He entered into our brokenness, felt pain and want, disappointment and desire, was tempted and did not sin. God - the creator and sustainer of everything that is - humbled himself enough to become a baby. This is truly something to spend time pondering and celebrating.

This year, thinking about Advent has caused me to consider another piece of the story. Advent is certainly about celebrating the arrival of the Messiah, but it is also about waiting for him again. On this side of history, it can be difficult for us to imagine the thousands of years Israel spent waiting for the promised one. After Adam and Eve chose to go their own way and sin entered the world, God made a promise. After he gives his indictment to the serpent for bringing evil into his good world, God tells the serpent,

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

From that day, God’s people would rehearse that promise. As the story of the creation of the world and it’s fall into sin was rehearsed and retold for generations, they would remember that promise. The seed of the woman - a human - would come and put an end to the evil and pain they had entered into and could not escape. It doesn’t take long to look around and see that our world is broken and in need of a savior.

The Bible doesn’t give us many timetables, but I think it is safe to say that Genesis 3 happened a long time before Matthew 1. Thousands of years passed. Abraham was called out by God and given another promise - that the promised One would come from his family (a family that didn’t exist yet) to be a blessing to the whole world:

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” (Genesis 12:1-3)

Abraham’s family would grow and grow until it became the nation of Israel. They would become slaves in Egypt, multiplying even amid suffering and oppression, then be redeemed from their slavery and enter the land God had promised to them. After many years of waiting, the family of Abraham was a nation! God’s promises were coming true. But the world was still broken. The people God chose still hurt one another, hurt themselves, and hurt God’s good world. Evil had not been defeated. The Israelites rehearsed the promise of Genesis 3:15 again.

More years, more waiting, more remembering that God was going to send a human to crush the serpent’s head. A king was anointed - David - but he too gave in to the serpent and chose what was good in his own eyes. He was not the promised one. And yet, God reminded his people:

“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:12-13)

And so Israel waited. And waited. And waited.

Like Adam and Eve, Israel continued to choose their own way and not God’s. God’s judgement on their evil came and foreign nations took God’s people captive. Israel was in exile - strangers in a foreign land, living in the consequences of sin and death, longing for the promises of God to be realized and for healing to come to their land. Prophets called the people to repent, and again reminded them of God’s promise in Genesis 3.

Hundreds and hundreds of years went by. Eventually even the prophets went quiet. Israel waited - would the promised One ever come? Would God ever crush the evil and destruction we see and participate in every day? Or has he left us on our own?

They waited. Rehearsing the promises, telling the stories, singing the songs. Waiting.

And finally, Christmas. When no one saw it coming, a baby was born in Bethlehem. Fulfilling every prophecy more beautifully than they could have imagined, shattering expectations and surpassing them at the same time. Jesus. Immanuel. God with us.

We celebrate that in the season of Advent. But it’s not the end of the story. The story began with a promise, and it ends with one too.

Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are the answer to Israel’s waiting, and the answer to our longings to heal the brokenness we see and feel in our world. But it is also a promise. That one day, the whole world will undergo a resurrection and new creation. God’s promise in Jesus is that he cares for his creation, he has paid the penalty for our destruction, and he will fully and finally redeem and restore his good world. Jesus is the guarantee that God has not left our world to deal with our sin and brokenness alone. His promise to us is that he will come again to make this world new and everyone who calls on his name will be rescued and restored.

So we wait. Advent is a season to remember, to celebrate, and also to practice. To step into the longing Israel felt as they waited for the promised One, and to feel that longing in our hearts. We spend weeks waiting for Christmas, singing the songs, reciting the promises in Scripture, and waiting. Looking back at what he has done and looking forward to what he has yet to do.

Christ has come. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.

The Gift of Disappoinment


Christmas can be a wonderful time of year. Great food, time with family, giving and receiving gifts. As Christians we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus, the greatest gift ever given.

But even for the Christian, Christmas can be a difficult time. Sometimes things don’t go the way we want. Sometimes family relationships are strained, so coming together brings tension. Or sometimes complicated schedules make it impossible for everyone to be together. Maybe a tight budget makes gift buying stressful. Maybe it’s the first Christmas after the loss a loved one, or a divorce. Or maybe you’re single and it’s yet another Christmas spent feeling alone, and though you feel you should be happy, you’re fighting sadness instead. Or the hustle and bustle of the season, which is exciting for some, just causes stress and anxiety for you.  

The fact is we often have high expectations of the way Christmas SHOULD be. In our minds we have an idea of the way things should go, or what would make this time of year perfect and special, but reality can be far from that ideal. And when it is, we are disappointed, depressed even.

Even the beauty and wonder of Christmas is touched by sin. A time when we think everything should be happy and perfect can actually be the most difficult time of year. So how can disappointment be a gift?  

What if it serves to remind us once again of our great need for a savior? What if when things don’t turn out the way we hoped, instead of feeling depressed, we remember that the baby we celebrate grew up to right all that is wrong in this world? We were not created for brokenness, but for wholeness and reconciliation with our Creator. Because of the gospel- Jesus took on flesh, became Emmanuel, lived a life pleasing to the Father, died on the cross in our place and defeated sin and death when he rose from the grave- our hope isn’t in the perfect Christmas experience, but in a perfect Savior.

Even more, what if our feelings cause us to long even more for Jesus’ return? Not only do we hope in what He has already done, but in what He will do when He comes again. The brokenness that we experience now will be no more, our tears will be wiped away and all will be made new. This pain and these difficulties are light and momentary compared to the glory that is to come. What a wonderful promise that is!

So as you go this Christmas season, wherever you go, remember that you take the hope, joy and peace, that our world so desperately needs, and that is only found in Jesus. Merry Christmas!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing


It’s rare when you come across someone who doesn’t like Christmas music. The timeless melodies and tunes always seem to put a smile on my face and give me all the warm and fuzzier inside.  Among the numerous Christmas songs, this is one of my favorites…of course Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” is on up there too but that’s a whole different blog. 

I wanted to take a quick moment to post and allow you to take some time to read through these verses. Often times routines in our lives can become well…routine. They tend to lose their meaning and flair. Before long it becomes more of an obligation than anything. Christmas falls into that category. Year after year it always catches us off guard in the aftermath of our Thanksgiving food-coma. Decorations have to go up in a timely manner. Gifts must be purchased and frantically wrapped because you’ve put it off to the last minute. Plans of getting together with family are stressfully filling the calendar. More layers must be worn in order to survive the cold. Language has to be changed so as to incorporate phrases like “ ’tis the season” and “the reason for the season.” And in the blink of an eye, it’s all over and we’re getting ready to bring in the new year. 

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is a beautifully written Christmas hymn that reminds us of why we really celebrate Christmas. If you’re familiar with the first verse and can sing it in your sleep, then take a closer look at the other verses…

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King:
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!” 
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’angelic hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!” 

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King”

Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord, 
late in time behold him come,
offspring of the virgin’s womb:
veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’incarnate Deity,
please with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel. [Refrain]

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth [Refrain]

WORDS: Charles Wesley, alt. George Whitefield
MUSIC: Felix Mendelssohn

This hymn is so beautifully and poetically written. In just three verses we get a taste of who Jesus is and why Christmas is so important. Christmas is the day we remember “Christ, the everlasting Lord,” who veiled himself in flesh and brings peace between “God and sinners” (that’s us!). Though it doesn’t talk about his death, Christ took our pain and punishment that was reserved for sinners and took it all on Himself so that all who would believe in His life, death, and resurrection would be reconciled. Because of that He brings peace, hope, light, new life, healing, mercy, reconciliation, joy. 

Remember this. Take the time to stop and remember why we are truly celebrating Christmas. Remember what a beautiful and merciful gift of grace it was for our Savior to take on flesh. Remember the peace we have with one another is a grace that reflects the true peace found in Christ. Remember the beautiful lights and decorations that are visual reminders of redemption and the new light and life we find in Jesus. 

Prepare Him Room

With Thanksgiving right around the corner and Christmas music already playing in many of our homes (sorry not sorry), it is time to begin preparing for the most wonderful time of the year: ADVENT.

Meaning “arrival” or “coming,” Advent is the season leading up to Christmas where we remember the longing and expectation for the promised savior and celebrate his coming. We’re all familiar with the “reason for the season” but are we equally versed in why it is so significant? Do we know what the coming of Christ is the answer to? Advent is a beautiful season of remembering God’s promises to Adam, Abraham, David, and the whole world, and celebrating that they find their answer and fulfillment in Jesus. Christmas is a kept promise, and the promise of our future hope!

Prepare Him Room - in the Classroom


This year, our New City kids are going to soak up the promises of this season and spend all of December in an advent curriculum titled Prepare Him Room by Marty Machowski. This 4-week lesson plan guides kids through the promises of the Old Testament and how Jesus is the fulfillment of all of those promises.

The publisher, New Growth Press, describes the book:

Prepare Him Room … takes a biblical, theological approach to the Old Testament promises and New Testament fulfillment in Christ in a way kids can understand. With age-appropriate instruction and activities for three different learning levels—preschool, lower elementary, and upper elementary—Prepare Him Room builds gospel hope and enduring theological depth into each child’s celebration of Christmas.

Machowski is the author of the Gospel Story for Kids series including The Gospel Story Bible, Long Story Short, Old Story New, the Gospel Story Curriculum, as well as several other gospel-centered books and resources for children.

Each week will focus on a piece of the Christmas story and the corresponding prophecies, ultimately pointing our kids to our hope in Jesus to redeem and restore the world.

Prepare Him Room - at Home!

In addition to the classroom curriculum, Machowski has a family devotional that goes right along with the weekly lessons! This is a wonderful way to reinforce what they are learning on Sunday mornings and to celebrate the coming of Christ at home! We will be selling the family devotional companion at the Resources shelf on November 18 and 25 for $10. We have a limited number, so if you want one and they sell out, you can find them here and here.


Finally, if you’re looking for some beautiful, Christ-centered Christmas music, check out Sovereign Grace Music’s “Prepare Him Room.” You’re sure to find many of the songs we’ll be singing on Sundays during the Christmas season!

Christmas is such a sweet time of the year, especially for kids, but it is most special when we realize how God’s promises are fulfilled in an amazing way in the birth of Christ. That’s why I want to take some time out of our normal routines and curriculum to dwell in this season and help our kids understand that Christmas is an amazing answer to all of God’s promises to redeem and restore our world.

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 Tower of Babel is About Jesus

Last Sunday, our elementary age students learned about the Tower of Babel in their classes. A story many of us are familiar with, we can probably recount the message: don’t build yourself up with pride. Ok, good. But is that all we should hear from that story?

Teaching kids about the Bible may not seem terribly difficult. After all, it’s full of good, moral examples of characters who obeyed God perfectly and were rewarded, right? Not really.

It’s difficult for adults to understand many of the stories and how they are relevant to our lives. So how do we teach it to our kids? Should we even try?

The Bible is the sacred text of the Christian faith, the way the Creator of the Universe has chosen to reveal himself to us. It is masterful, beautiful, powerful, and his very word to us. God’s word is powerful, active, and at work in the lives of his people, and he uses it to shape us and transform us (Heb 4:12; 2 Tim 3:16). It is not only worth it to teach the Bible to our kids, it is necessary for them to know and love God.

There is however a danger present whenever we attempt to teach the Bible to our kids. More often than not, we take stories in the Bible and teach our kids to behave in one way or another. We read about heroes of Old Testament stories and teach that we should have faith like Daniel or a heart like David’s. We read about Jesus in the New Testament and teach that we should love others because that is what Jesus did. Are these wrong? No! Of course not. We should desire great faith, a heart after God, and to love one another as Jesus loves us. But are they the whole story?

The danger of teaching kids a moral lesson from each Bible story is that we offer an empty hope. We present to them that faith in Christ is about trying to be good, honest, moral, and loving. We teach them to modify their behavior without ever reaching their hearts. This is a weight too great to bear. If we hope in our ability to obey well or live rightly, we will be disappointed and devastated by our failure over and over and over until we give up or fall into despair.

Again, don’t hear what I’m not saying. We should teach our kids right behavior. We must teach them to love and respect one another. These are good things and part of our job as their family. However, if we stop there, all we will do is raise good, moral children who behave well. We won’t raise Christians.

The hope of the gospel – and of every Bible story – is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. On our own, we will always fall short of perfect behavior, right motives, and good morals. We need a change that runs deeper than our behavior. We need a change of heart.

The story of the Bible is one of a fallen and broken humanity in need of rescue, and that God in his great mercy provided that rescue for us. It tells us that our hearts are broken – we need a repair in order to work properly.

So what do we take away from the Tower of Babel? Our hearts are like the people of Babel’s. We desire our own fame, glory, and recognition. We don’t desire to worship God for who he is. We need someone to change our hearts. The only way we will recognize and honor God rightly is if he changes us. Because of Jesus’s perfect life, his death in our place, and his resurrection and defeat of death, we can change. He gives us his power to live well and obey God when we trust in him. And when we fail, he forgives us again and again.

The Bible tells one big story – that God created everything to be good, and we have broken it. But he doesn’t leave us in our brokenness and promises to redeem and restore everything in his good world again. He does that by sending his son – God as a human – to be the perfect human and take our place. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible tells this story. Of God rescuing and redeeming the world he created through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son.

This is more difficult than teaching kids that they should change their behavior. It is harder to understand, and there are fewer quick takeaways they can color on a craft and take home. But it is necessary and so so important. There are lots of resources for teaching kids the Bible, and we’re grateful for the two we use now and the way they help us tell this story: The Jesus Storybook Bible for Pre-K ages, and the Gospel Project for elementary ages. Adults and kids alike, Jesus is our only hope.

Comfort When You're At Your Wits' End

We live in a day and age where it is not normal to tell people how hard life really is at times. We tend to cover up our difficulties from fear of judgement or rejection. We don’t share our suffering with others from fear of overburdening. We often don’t share the realities of how hard life really can be because we don’t want to give up the facade that we actually have our lives all together. We often feel we have to downplay our difficulties because we don’t have it near as bad as others; so words like “suffering,” “depression,” or “despair” are words we would never imagine using for our own circumstances.

My wife, Hanna, and I have been in the middle of a very difficult season over the past few months. At times we’ve felt alone, anxious, angry, and fearful. We know we are not alone in our suffering, but often times in the middle of it we can feel very alone. Our church family, friends, and blood family have been surrounding us with love and comfort but even so, there are times where life has you feeling out of options, pressed deep into a corner, without hope and in the dark—at your wits' end.

When we look to Psalm 107:23-27 we see a group of sailors in an equally dark situation:

Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.

The sea strengthens, the winds lift, and the men become incredibly fearful. They’re scrambling in their ship, searching for an escape, with nowhere to go but down. You’ve been there, too, pacing the halls of your home without answer. If there is relief, you certainly don’t see it. The cancer hasn’t left, you’ve lost your unborn child, your family is on the verge of meltdown, your spouse wants nothing but divorce. In these moments, we become desperate.

The sailors were there, too. They realized they were not able to create their own way out and “they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress” (Ps. 107:28).

Believe me when I say this: even when the days are dark, God hears and answers the cries of desperate people. Sometimes we become so enslaved to our depression or suffering that we cannot even believe there is hope. If you’ve never been there, you will be. When you are at your wits’ end, know and believe that God is not at His. He is near and He has not left you alone. Cry out to him. He loves His children and He will answer their cries for help.

Jesus has been there too, crying out to his Father is his despair searching for a way out. He wept in the garden and he will wipe your tears away. He’s felt the pain of being turned on by his closest friends. He’s suffered through the loss of loved ones. When you’re at your wits’ end, He has already been there. He suffered alone, so that we never have to. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The Call to Lead: Student Ministry


Part 6 of our The Call to Lead series pertains to Student Ministry. 

Student Ministry. Jr. High and High School. I know what you’re thinking…”Oh man, working with Jr. High and High School students? I just don’t have the patience.” Sadly this is a common response I’ve heard over the past few years. 

As we have been talking about leadership this past month, Student Ministry is an area where leaders are desperately needed. We don’t just need the “ideal” leaders like college students and young married couples. We need leaders in every stage of life so our students can witness what it is like to follow Christ in other stages of life. 

Teenagers are a part of the church. This is so true at New City Church. Many of our students serve regularly whether its in New City Kids or at our MC’s. They need leaders to come alongside them and their parents to help train and disciple them in the gospel just like we ALL do. 

Our desire at New City is to train and disciple leaders so they are equipped to lead well in every area of life. The hope is to share the gospel with others. Whether its Team Lead on Connect Team or a Teacher in Kid’s Ministry, we want you to grow and take those skills to the world. Student Ministry is no different. Here is the Pipeline structure that New City has adopted:


Leaders in Student Ministry don’t just hang out and babysit but they lead and serve. They setup food and clean but also have the opportunity to lead students into thinking about the gospel and applying it to their lives. Over the past month I have been working on a pipeline structure to develop leaders in our Student Ministry. Here is the Student Ministry Leadership Pipeline: 

  • Lead Self: Helper | Setup and clean up for MC gatherings along with any other needed tasks as well as support other leaders

  • Lead Others: Discussion Leader | Guide the conversations in our small groups to the Gospel

  • Lead Leaders: Speaker | Prepare and contextualize a message from the sermon

  • Lead Ministry: Student Director | Supports leaders and guides the overall mission and vision of the Student Ministry

We need leaders who are willing to love and invest in our students. We need leaders who are willing to grow in their leadership and set an example for our students. We need leaders to share the gospel with our students. We need leaders to invest in and disciple other leaders. Our mission is to love and serve these students and help them find their identity in Christ and to live in light of the gospel. 

Check out the other blogs in our The Call to Lead series. 

3 Ways to Engage the Bible from The Bible Project

I have recently been greatly encouraged by the work of a nonprofit based in Portland called The Bible Project. It’s an animation studio that makes short, beautiful videos about biblical themes, words, and how to read and interpret Scripture. In addition to these super helpful videos, they produce a podcast, print resources, and an app that guides readers through the Bible in a daily reading plan. They have a great respect for the Bible and believe it is one unified story that points to Jesus, and they want to help people all over the world engage with it. What an awesome project!

But they also recognize what many of us don’t: the Bible is not always easy to read. It is a beautiful and complex collection of books written in multiple languages and cultural contexts over hundreds of years. We believe it is God’s word to us and has implications for our everyday lives, but it’s not always readily apparent exactly how. Most of us haven’t been taught how to be good students of the Bible, so we are confused by what we read and give up too quickly. But if this is God’s word to us, shouldn’t we learn how to read it?

That is why I am so excited about the work of this group. They are combining deep biblical scholarship with beautiful visual storytelling to help all of us better understand how to read the Bible for ourselves. It is accessible, easy to understand, and inspiring.

God’s word is powerful, active, and at work in the lives of his people, and he uses it to shape us and transform us (Heb 4:12; 2 Tim 3:16). There are TONS of resources we can consume about God and his word, but if we never engage with his actual word we are missing out on his divinely inspired message. So I hope the videos produced by The Bible Project help equip you and encourage you to engage with the Bible. It takes work on our part to be good students, but God is faithful and is accomplishing his purposes through his word (Isaiah 55:11). We can trust him as we learn.

The following post was published by The Bible Project.

Here at The Bible Project we love the Bible. But you probably know that by now. We believe it's a divine-human book that speaks God's Word to his people and ultimately leads us to Jesus, the one who has power to change lives. Amazing, right? Through the Bible, Jesus transforms us.

Yet, most of us struggle to engage the Bible. For some, it feels like an oppressive book of outdated rules. For others, golden tablets that dropped out of the sky, offering no wisdom for the modern world. Then there's those who love the Bible, but can't find the time or energy to engage it. Or fear that they don't know how. And, of course, a lot of us are just in a Bible reading rut. We started strong in January, but we've kind of…faded. Better luck next year?

Wait! We Want to Help!

We think the Bible is worth engaging, even in February. Or March. Or any day really. That's why we create videos, podcasts, and study guides that explore the Bible's unified story, overarching themes, and individual books. It's also why we're writing this article. The Bible is just too fascinating for anyone to stay in a "Bible rut," so we want to give you simple ways to engage God's Word afresh and resources to help you towards that end. We have highlighted 3 ways to Engage The Bible.

1. Read the Bible with Other People

Reading the Bible in community is one of the quickest ways to get out of a reading rut. It's a practice that God's people have always done to remind themselves of who they are and what they've been called to. This remains true today. As we come together to read and discuss a passage, our pre-existing (and often staunchly held) stories about God, ourselves, and the world are challenged. We're forced to see the text in new ways and grapple with it, pushing us deeper into the biblical narrative, which in turn shapes us as God's people rather than us shaping it.

Reading alongside others also guards us from distractions and deception. If we only read the Bible by ourselves it's pretty easy (and all too convenient) for God's voice to start to sound like our own. Being part of a bigger dialogue about the Bible protects us from self-deception and keeps us focused on what we're reading. It also offers rich, redemptive fellowship. Something we all crave. If you want to know more about this practice, check out the "Public Reading of Scripture" video.

How to Start:

One way to read the Bible in community is to sign up for the Read Scripture series or download the app and ask someone to go through it with you. It's pretty straightforward. Read assigned portions from Scripture every day, meet with another person, people, or small group regularly to discuss what you've been reading, and then respond to God's Word together. It can be as formal or informal as you want.

Another way to read in community is to check out our suggested reading for each biblical book. When you read brilliant scholars you're entering the ongoing conversation taking place in the Christian community at large. Their area of expertise gives you new insight into the biblical books. Insight that's easy to miss when you're reading alone. You may never meet these scholars but you can benefit from being in community with them through their writing.

Finally, we'd invite you into our community, a community spanning 229 countries with over half a million subscribers committed to reading the Bible together. We're constantly learning new things about the Bible as we read and explore its story and create content to communicate that story to others. You can join The Bible Project Community HERE.

2. Meditate on the Bible in Private

Reading the Bible with other people doesn't mean you shouldn't read the Bible alone. Both are integral parts of growing as disciples. So, if your reading has grown stale another way to shake things up is private meditation. By "meditation" we don't mean emptying ourselves by chanting mindless mantras. Quite the contrary. Christian meditation is about filling our hearts and minds with the divine, not emptying ourselves.

In terms of Bible reading, meditation is the practice of entering into the text by reading and rereading it out loud, allowing it to speak to us in such a way that we listen and truly hear it. We fix and order our minds around the text, reading and rereading, until key words, phrases, and ideas jump off the page at us. Then we chew on these words and ideas and begin to form questions that lead us into deeper reflection. This causes us to slow down and experience the text in a way that affects our hearts and minds with the love of God. If you want to know more about this practice, check out "The Bible As Jewish Meditation Literature" video.

How to Start:

Choose a chapter or passage from your current reading plan and focus on it. If you're using our Read Scripture plan, pick a section from today's reading and read it out loud several times (the daily psalm would be a great place to start). Allow the text to roll around in your mind as you mutter the words aloud. Try to put yourself in the passage. What emotions are you feeling? What details do you notice? What would you think if you were hearing these words for the first time? What words or images jump out at you? Meditate on these questions and allow divine love and grace to fill you as you reflect on the answers.

Another creative way to meditate on Scripture is to listen to a text over and over again with a Bible app. We recommend YouVersion's free Bible App, which you can download on any device online at Bible.com. Once downloaded, choose your section of Scripture and play it over and over again doing the same practices mentioned above. Hearing a text repeatedly is a great way to actually hear the text, which is the goal of meditation. Not to mention, it's more accessible for some people, like young moms or busy caretakers, during chaotic seasons.

3. Respond to the Bible in Prayer

A wonderful way to engage the Bible is through prayerful reading of Scripture, a mode of reading with an eye towards finding language out of which we form a prayer of response. This differs from meditation in that meditation is an entering into the world of the text and allowing it to speak to us, while prayer is us speaking to God in natural response to the text.

To be clear, "prayerful reading" is not wrapping up our Bible time with general prayers about our lives. It's a specific kind of praying that uses words and ideas from the text to shape a prayer of response. The language and tone of the prayer should reflect the language and tone of the text. For example, if you're reading through lamentations you form a prayer of lament that's filled with grief over all the sin and wreckage in our broken world. Or, if you're reading through Philippians, you form a prayer of thanksgiving that's filled with joy in the midst of suffering using Paul's language. It's not reading and then praying, as if the two were disconnected. It's prayerful reading.

How to Start:

The best place to start is in the Psalms. God's people have always looked to the Psalms to give voice to their prayers. Plus, they were written to be prayed and sung aloud so they're perfect for practicing prayerful reading.

If you use our Read Scripture plan, we've built this practice into the reading. Every day you read a psalm slowly, meditating on it and then forming a prayer of response. Use the psalmist's words and make it your own as you respond to all that God has revealed to you in the text. Finally, take that prayerful language into your day's responsibilities and relationships, allowing it to shape your day and, when done over time, shape your life. It's a simple practice that yields huge benefits in terms of spiritual formation.

Don't Wait Until Next Year

We know it's easy to fade in Bible reading. We've all been there. But don't give up and buy into the idea that next year will be different. It won't be. Today is the best possible day to engage God's Word. So forget the guilt over "what was" and resist the temptation to think "what could be" and jump in right now. Try mixing things up with one of the ways listed above and use our resources freely-that's why they're there. And remember, God's Word is a living Word that speaks life to his people and leads us to Jesus, so it really is worth engaging.

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!

The Call to Lead: New City Music


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. 


Each of the pipelines are based on this flow chart: 


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


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:


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.

and the 12.jpg

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.



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:


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.