Month: November 2016

Five Things We Want When We Gather

When was the last time your team really evaluated the weekend services at your church? It is not easy to ask why things are done they way they are done, but change happens best when the “why” is more important than the “how”.

Here are some questions we ask ourselves regularly:

Are we making disciples who participate or just attracting consumers who attend?

Are we challenging people to follow Jesus or just providing a form of spiritual entertainment?

What are people discussing after the services? Are they talking about us or about Jesus?

Can someone who is hungry for Jesus find him in our services?

 

When we gather at New Life, we pray and plan for five things to happen every week.

1. We want Jesus to be worshipped

Christology is paramount in all we do.  The person, role and nature of Jesus is the predominant focus from beginning to end. Without a biblical framework of Jesus, all worship falls apart, but when Jesus is central, the saints are strengthened and the prodigals are welcomed home. Jesus is every stanza of every song, and every syllable of every prayer. Everything. He is God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made.

2. We want people to recognize and welcome the Holy Spirit

When Jesus is central, the Holy Spirit is always near. We welcome the powerful person of the Holy Spirit to meet with us, to show us Jesus and empower us with the grace and means to follow Christ. We pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to us and for us too make room for Him. We pray there is not one second of the service that the Holy Spirit is absent or missing. He is The Lord, the giver of life.

3. We want truth to be taught in love

It is truth that sets us free and love is our greatest gift. When the sacred texts of Scripture are taught with truth and love, our hearts are awakened, and sin is confessed and vanquished. We are built into a living body of believers, ready to be ambassadors carrying salt and light. We want the Scriptures to be taught with practical applications, but not void of mystery. We want to show people the big story of the Bible – the story of a God wanting to speak to us, to redeem us and to live with us.

4. We want authentic community

If the church is a colony of life living in a world of death, then we must carry one another’s burdens in prayer, confess to one another, encourage one another and serve one another. This is work that cannot be done remotely and requires physical presence.  We must see one another and hear one another. Church is an unhurried gathering where stories can be told and listening ears can be found. When we dedicate babies, support and cheer for those in the waters of baptism, and eat together, our hearts are knit together in a bond of peace. Our love for another is proof to the world that we are followers of Jesus. (John 13:35)

5. We want to be connected to a bigger story

When the early church gathered for worship, the climax was a celebratory meal of remembrance, an agape feast. The Eucharist was the reason they gathered, the center of their worship and the reason for their hope. In a world where absolute truth and sound theology are under attack, the table centers us again on a foundational stone and returns us to the mysteries of a deeper place of worship. For us, communion is the bridge between a miraculous, resurrected past, a hopeful present and a prophetic future. It connects New Life to the church around the world and gives us space in a story that was already being written even before we were born.

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The New Life Family Welcomes Nueva Vida

It gives me great joy to announce that New Life Church is merging with Nueva Vida Church on January 1st! After months of prayer and conversation, Nueva Vida will become an official congregation of New Life and will help us reach the city we all love. Pastors Jeremias and Ana Tamarez will continue to lead this great church and will become a part of our New Life staff, along with their amazing team.

Nueva Vida is the largest Hispanic and Latino congregation in our city with over 500 members and is actively involved in meeting the needs of their community through food distribution, evangelism and discipleship.  In fact, their beautiful church building is less than two miles from Mary’s Home and will allow us even greater partnerships in the surrounding neighborhoods.

We are thrilled to see the body of Christ come together in unity and our elders and I believe this a partnership that will help both churches fulfill their missions. In the next few weeks, I will be sharing more details and we will introduce the Tamarez family to our New Life congregation during our weekend services. In the meantime, rejoice with me and pray for our churches. This is a huge blessing for us to join hands with a dynamic church who loves our city.

 

 

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