I continue to think about the future at Newberg Friends. Here’s what I wrote today in my annual self-evaluation for the elders:
Several people are talking about a new/different type of service. There are many different visions for that which need refining and discerning, as well as wrestling with the fact that many are very committed to our identical service format. There are a few people, myself included, who wonder if this new “service” needs to have a more important purpose than simply a different worship style. I’m getting a glimpse of a service/gathering of people who are committed to leading a small group or a house church. The service is designed in such a way that the goal is to equip those people, in the best way possible, to do the mission of the church: live in a growing community, listening to Christ, changing in the Spirit, and living out love. Perhaps, as their small groups and house churches develop, they leave the new service/gathering. Perhaps the small groups/house churches join the new service/gathering each week, or once a month.
If we are committed to stay in this building, and if we are committed to reaching the unchurched, and if we are committed to not simply having people show up for a religious service but actually be changed into faithful followers of Jesus Christ (all of which I answer with a hearty “yes”)…then I see no other way to do that without multiplying ourselves drastically into smaller venues/groups that have outreach and discipleship as the goal.
My prayer is that God will clarify our vision, and raise up new leaders of small groups and house churches that can intentionally live a community life of service to Christ.