Month: January 2012

Announcing NewLifeDowntown!!

This is a guest blog by Pastor Glenn Packiam, who will lead NewLifeDowntown, starting Easter Sunday.

As Pastor Brady announced yesterday, the elders are commissioning a new campus for New Life Church that I serve as the pastor for. Here’s a little more about our vision and the details.

VISION
:
1. This is not a church plant.
We have had the privilege of sending many of our pastors to plant churches over the past few years. We love and believe in that vision. This, however, is not a church plant. This is an extension of New Life Church. This is a new “campus”– the word literally means “field” in Latin! It is a new ground for us to till, a new garden to tend, a new place for the Lord to bring about flourishing in the hearts and lives of the people of God. With shared resources and staff, our downtown congregation can make the most of all the conferences, events and ministries that happen up at the main New Life campus
.

2. This is about fostering community.
A new “field”– campus– can sometimes allow a stronger communal identity to form. In the midst of a thriving large church, people often form smaller, mid-size communities where they worship, connect and serve together. In way, these are like several “micro-congregations” that together form a large church. NewLifeDowntown is a way to form community within the New Life Church family, to make meaningful relationships and walk with others as we follow Jesus. As is often the case with a community of people, culture trumps location. So, this new campus is not about defining ourselves by a zip code. You may find yourself connecting in community here even though you live in a different part of the city, as I do! But more than location and culture, Jesus trumps all loyalties. We have many ideals of community that we bring to “church”, and yet, as Bonhoeffer wrote, we must have a certain disillusionment with those ideals in order for Christ to be the defining center of our community, of our connection, of our “life together” as the people of Go
d.

3. This is about facilitating mission.
There are many reasons that may keep a person from coming up to the main New Life Church campus, size and distance being among the common ones. Part of our goal with NewLifeDowntown is to embody the mission of Christ by being in a different part of our city. This isn’t about “reaching the downtown;” this is about being the people of God in the heart of our city. Because we believe in an incarnational approach to mission, we want the people of God to embody Christ in different ways right where they are. We gather to “Come and See;” we scatter to “Go and Be.” This new campus is a way to Go and Be.  Who knows? Maybe this will be a way to remove the barriers for many who have yet to see the light of Christ shi
ne.

DETAILS:
About the Church Bu
ilding
The building was owned by the first African-American church in our city (AME), built in 1897 on land donated by General Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. While the congregation has moved to a different location, the building was bought by the Garden of the Gods Gourmet company who now use it as an event center (It’s wonderful to weddings!). They have completley remodeled it, and restoring some of its most beautiful features. They have graciously allowed us to rent the building on Sunday mornings for our
use.

About the Church Service
We will start with services at 9am and 11am on Sunday, Apri
l 8th.

There will be full children’s ministry, with the same curriculum as used at the main New Life Church campus. There will be three classes: one for newborns to toddlers, one for pre-school to kindagrten, and one for 1st and 2nd graders.

Worship will feature many of same songs we know and love at New Life Church, but will be led in a more rootsy, folk-acoustic sort of way. The room as very “live” acoustics that lend a natural musical approach.

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A People of Peace

“Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. 7 I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” Psalm 120:6-7 NIV

This psalm is a song of ascent, sung or spoken by weary pilgrims making their way to the holy places of Jerusalem. They were going to a place of worship, a holy sanctuary resplendent with peace. They were not thinking of war, in fact they were weary of bloodshed and just wanted to be with people who worshipped the Prince of Peace. To prefer peace is a surprisingly rare trait among people, then and now.

I noticed not long ago, as I entered a room for a prayer meeting, that New Life has become a place of peace. Couples, students and children were milling about, engaged in casual dialogue and unhurried conversations. Not everyone was smiling and there were no plastic grins, but there was an air of authenticity, a relaxed spirit of sincere friendship.

This did not happen without conflict or scars, but we made choices along the way to choose relationships over ideological differences. I realize there will be skirmishes among people, because where two or more are gathered, there will be, at some point, fusses. Even in the middle of conflict,, though, we can choose to think the best about one another and to dismiss gossip for what it is. We will not always get it right, but when we know we have offended, we will be quick to repent. It is what a people of peace do, it is who we are.

I make no assumptions that peace will always define us because that only happens when the wars of our inner soul are settled and won. Peace inside me means I can be at peace with others on the outside. This means that every day, we have to take an honest, sometimes painful stare into our own souls.  I do know, though, that peace is definitely worth that daily fight.

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Which Master are We Serving?

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7 (NIV)

Debt is the new master of our culture. It rules over many of our homes, it certainly dominates our federal and state governments, but sadly it is now the master of many of our churches. Proverbs warned us about this and told us plainly that when debt is the master, the poor are enslaved and we become servants to a master that is not always kind.

New Life Church has $23 million of debt after building our current meeting space and purchasing some other properties. When the decision was made to borrow the money eight years ago, the church was growing really fast and giving was on the increase. The leaders felt the debt was manageable and could be paid off easily in a few years. It was a solid decision at the time.

Since then, our church has suffered through a scandal, a shooting and a shrinking local economy. Suddenly what was once manageable became the master that has kept us from some vital ministry opportunities in our city and world. When we wanted to serve the poor, we instead, had to send in mortgage payments to a credit union.

This past Sunday, our church took a historic first step to move the mountain of debt, and we will, with God’s wisdom and help. It may take days, months or even years, but we are determined to be debt free, untangled from the world system of debt and interest payments and better yoked with real kingdom purposes.

Proverbs 22:7 confronts what most of us have chosen to believe — that immense debt has no consequences, but it does. Imagine what our churches could do if we focused as much on solving the housing shortage that keeps the working poor in the shadows, living in cars with their children, as we did dreaming up the next building project to expand our campuses?

I am not against big buildings because large, growing families need space to meet and to do ministry. I just want balance. I want us to live simple lives, avoiding extravagance, especially when it keeps us from the real ministry of Jesus in our cities. If Jesus saw a working single mom living in a car with her children, he would buy apartment complexes and then maybe, a place for them to worship, later.

What has the debt at our churches kept us from doing in our cities? That’s the big question we’re answering right now at New Life. It has been revelatory for me to talk with our people about this. The light has come on for all of us and we’re beginning to imagine and dream about ministry that can really change people’s lives.

Let’s make sure we are serving the right master, not a world system that gives us easy money and then makes us servants who then have to ask permission to do the things we have already been told to do by our true Master.

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