Blog

Missionaries to Our City

New City Church is on a mission to make disciples, equip the church, and renew the city.   God has made us a family of servant missionaries through faith in Jesus. And that is why we, in addition to our Sunday gathering, have a vision to launch City Groups throughout our region, to help us to live out our God-given identity.

Family

It is vital that a City Group functions as a family. And just as every family on earth is unique, each City Group will take on the uniqueness of its members while carrying the common and uniting vision of New City Church. Whether the group meets once a week or once a month it is essential that meals, fun outings, cookouts, or some form of informal gathering be a regular part of our journey together. Spending time laughing, eating, and enjoying each other’s company as a family will create a bond between the group that few other things can. As a family we will endure trials together and discover our weaknesses as well as strengths and gifts. The lives of married people, singles, students, parents and grandparents will be seen in raw form and we will be better for it. As life on life happens the group will learn to pray for each other, comfort, encourage and even rebuke sin with far less hypocrisy. Because God is our Heavenly Father we are no longer orphans, but sons and daughters through Christ, and brothers and sisters. City Groups help us to live as such.

Servants

Jesus came as the ultimate Servant. He went to the cross in our place and took our sins upon His shoulders. Through faith in Him we are no longer slaves to our sin, but to righteousness. We are free to live for His glory, not only as individuals, but as a family. A City Group is committed to becoming better servants as we grow in the Word, prayer and accountability. Each group’s emphasis will depend on the season and specific missional focus of each group. One season might call for a focus on prayer and fasting as they prepare for missions in the park or to the local schools. Another season might bring the group through deeper study in the Bible in order to grow or be challenged in an area of recognized need, like marriage, missions, justice or forgiveness. It can fluctuate, and that’s the beauty of it.

Missionaries

God is a missionary God and His Word is calling us to action, to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. We are called to be a blessing, and to live as salt and light for this earth. That is why City Groups exist, to glorify God by letting our lights shine in our city. We all have neighbors who need Jesus. Schools, teachers, city officials, housing developments and recreation facilities are places to be a blessing in Jesus’ name. City Groups gather, not just to grow as a family, but to go as a family; to be on mission in our city.

The mission of a City Group should be both proactive and reactive. For example, if a members neighbor just lost their home to a fire, a City Group can spend a couple weeks praying for the family and gathering practical items to serve and love them. It may be beneficial to help with clean up, do a yard sale or fundraiser for the family, or pitch in as a City Group and make meals to lighten the load. For that period, that becomes the mission.

A City Groups needs to be in regular prayer over the city and its people, deciding where to actively serve and bless. It could be cleaning a school playground once a month, helping at the soup kitchen, tutoring children through the school year or building an ongoing relationship with the local PD.  Every place a City Group chooses to adopt as its mission is an opportunity to see the hurting, hear the broken, to love and offer hope and call the lost to salvation in Jesus.

It’s The Next Step

Our first City Group launches on Friday, November 10th and will meet at the pastor’s home at 6:00. We hope to multiply to two groups within the first year and eventually come to see dozens of dynamic City Groups throughout the city of Bath and the Midcoast, being a blessing to our city and seeing souls won for Christ.

If you have been gathering with us on Sundays and have wondered what’s next for you, if you’ve wondered how you can grow deeper with Jesus and with your church family, this is it. We believe that by regularly living in community with believers, making disciples and using our gifts and talents to serve our greater community, we will find the greatest fulfillment in life.

If you’d like to join a City Group, please contact us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aren’t There Already Enough Churches?

 

One of the most common questions a new church planter might hear is, “Aren’t there already enough churches in this town?”

And because it’s important for me as a planter to know why I’m planting, and because those who are asking deserve a good answer, I’ve given it a lot of thought.

Most cities and towns in America have numerous Churches, each differing in style, denominational affiliation, size and scope of mission.

It’s no different in my city of Bath, Maine. There are already 6-7 well established Churches here. So how can I justify coming to a small town of under 10,000 people and planting another Church? It comes down to the fact that I’m asking a different question altogether, one that I believe is far more important; one that will lead to far greater Kingdom impact.

I’m asking, are there still lost people in this city? And the answer is a resounding YES. There are souls to be saved, disciples to be made, Christians to be strengthened and sent out with the Gospel.

That is why New City Church, though only one among many, is needed in Bath. It’s because the mission is large, the harvest is plentiful, and there is not one church or ministry that can do it all. In fact, it was Jesus himself that commanded us to pray to the Lord of the harvest for more laborers in each harvest field. Praying this way keeps us focused on the vastness of the harvest as well as the constant need for more laborers. Thinking this way will keep Churches from becoming stingy, territorial and bitter.

New City Church has come to labor in the fields. We joyfully acknowledge that there are others here who have labored longer and have been faithful to the mission of the gospel. But we also know that the work is far from over and that the surface of souls won for Jesus has barely been scratched.

The vision is different, but not for the sake of being different. God has spoken something uniquely to my heart as a planter, as He does each and every church-planter. My family, the elders and congregants that God will call me to lead and shepherd are all unique. Our gifts are different. Our backgrounds are different. And God will use these differences to reach people that the Church down the street isn’t reaching. Just as they will reach people we simply cannot reach, and that’s ok. That is God’s design and it’s beautiful.

We also recognize that in many cases there is an “old wine skin” mentality. The Spirit of God is on the move everywhere, seeking to bring freshness and newness of life in the hearts of man. Many times it just the newness of something that people, most often Christians, are unwilling to accept.

Fortunately, in large part, that has not been the case here in Bath. Though not all have come with open arms, many have. Pastors and leaders from both denominational and non-denominational tribes have welcomed me and my family, prayed with me in my church office and in the local coffee shop. I met with a long term minister/missionary and founder of a local Christian camp who expressed gratefulness to our vision and mission here. One retired ministry couple of a well known local church called to say they have been praying for more help in Bath and offered to introduce me to their team so as to pray together. These have all been like breaths of fresh air and have brought more excitement to our mission. But for those who still don’t quite understand why we need more Churches here in Bath, or in any place for that matter, may you search the face of Christ and find compassion for the lost.

As New City Church continues to build a core and pray through the early phases of our mission, we will seek to emphasize three areas that we strongly believe represent the new skin into which God’s Spirit can flow.  Disciple-making, deeply theological but relevant preaching of the Word that strengthens the body, and a sense of family togetherness that stretches outside of the church walls with the Gospel to the lost world around us. By the power of God’s Spirit and through faithfulness in prayer, I believe New City Church will greatly impact Bath for the Glory of God.

Building the Core Team

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” Acts 4:32

A core team is the backbone of a Church plant. How that core team actually looks and takes shape is going to be different depending on several factors. The culture, the sending-church, the background and planting style of the Church-planter and his family will all play into how the core team begins and then moves through each phase of the church-plant. But whether it’s one family or five families to begin with, there is always a core team. The quality of that team effects both the momentum and the spiritual health and stability of that church as it grows.

Last week, at New City Church, we met for the first time in our small meeting space in Bath. Several believers showed up whom we had never met before. There were about 18 in total, including children. I led us through a time of worship, prayer, a short study and then communion at the Lord’s table (My vision is to incorporate the four pillars of Acts 2:42 into our early gatherings). It was truly a Spirit-filled time that will only get better and better as a family begins to form. The evening unfolded and I found myself thinking often, as I looked about the room,

“Who is the core team here?”

“Who are the few You are sending or have sent to partner with my family on this mission; a mission that, without your Spirit, will be impossible to accomplish?”

“Who is just here to get, and who is here to give their lives for the mission of making disciples in this city?”

Even now as I type, I am asking God and trusting Him to pour out His Spirit on our city and to bring to it the laborers whom He desires to be a part of New City Church and the harvest of souls on Maine’s mid-coast.

Emphasis on the Word Team

So, why not go about this alone? Why not drag my family through days and days of intense spiritual battle, even go right up to the front lines of Gospel ministry, firing and being fired at, all by ourselves? The reason seems pretty  obvious when the question is posed that way, doesn’t it? The thought of battling without comrades in arms, fighting without backup, armor bearers and soldiers with common goals and objectives is simply absurd. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s similar to the nightmarish thought of trying to parent and raise my children without my bride, my partner and best friend. We get each other. We know the mission. We understand each other. That’s what a Church-plant needs.

“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5

But it’s more than just needing partners in Church-planting. It’s understanding that the Church is a family that leans upon one another and on Christ together. When a core team comes together that gets that, that understands the importance of suffering together, rejoicing together, succeeding, failing and praying together through all of it, then you’ve got something unstoppable. Why? Because that’s the Church that Jesus promised to build, and the gates of Hell cannot prevail against His Church.

Set Apart by the Spirit

We are taking the next several months to ask God to show us who our core team is. Many are here in our city already, praying for God to move in their community, and God is answering. Some were at our first meeting and have been praying for years for more light to come into the darkness here. Some, perhaps, will come from other places as the Lord works providentially through His Church and through unexpected means. As a dear friend and mentor of mine told me before planting, “Your core might be in the harvest itself.” That just might be.  But however they come, it absolutely must be as the Spirit sets them apart for the work. Neither He, nor we, are looking for perfect people, or particularly gifted people for that matter, but simply those who recognize their weakness without Him. We long for New City Church to be a family who serves alongside one another for the glory of God and the making of disciples in this city.

Pray For This Process

So if you’re wondering how you can be praying for New City Church, and for my family, now you know. Please pray that God’s will would be done in this phase of core team building. I’m putting no time frame on this. It’s up to God when we’re ready to move from this phase to the next. Pray that during this time we would be protected from the schemes of the Devil who would just as soon have us wiped of the face of the earth. Pray that God would be magnified and His Church multiplied in this city.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s current motto says, “Better Together”. That’s something we’re choosing to take serious from the get go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praying for First Converts

bath-4-dsc_0021

There are a lot of details going into the the new Church plant in Bath. But details are just details. And I know God will work those out. Something that is consuming my mind, though, and rightly so, is the thought of who the first convert to Christ might be. I’m asking God to begin to prepare that heart even now. He knows every person there, every circumstance and every pain felt in that city. He knows the brokenness and the sin that abounds in every land. And I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the remedy to all of that.

I think of Paul’s journey to Philippi and how God used his boldness and his preaching to convert three particular souls to Christ, and from them, the Church at Philippi was born.

Maybe there is a wealthy, religious and influential business woman in Bath, like Lydia, the seller of purple, whom Paul met at the river praying. She was broken and lost. Paul witnessed God open her heart to believe the Gospel. She and her whole household got saved that day.

Maybe there is a troubled or demon possessed teen there, like the girl who Paul met in the streets of Philippi. Her fortune-telling brought monetary gain to her employer, but Paul would not have it. He cast the demon out, was accused of disrupting the city and was thrown into prison. That young girl was used and abused for God knows how long. She was changed by the truth of Jesus that day.

Perhaps the first convert will be a public official, like the Philippian jailer whom Paul met in prison. Paul worshiped God in the darkness of the cell and all heard it. God did a miracle before the jailer’s eyes. The shackles were removed from Paul and the jailer’s heart was changed. He saw the shackles of sin in his own heart that needed to be removed. “What must I do to be saved?”, he asked. And he was baptized, he and his entire household.

The first three converts in Philippi was a seller of purple, a demon possessed girl and a jailer. Paul wrote back to that city and the Church there some years later with these words.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3-6 ESV)

However it all works out, I cannot wait to see what God does through the power of His Spirit and through the proclamation of the Gospel in that city. May God send laborers into that harvest.

This blog was published a couple months before we moved to Maine to plant New City Church.