New Way Church is coming to a close some time in the next few months. Principally this is due to a lack of funding.
As many of you already know, I originally set out to start a new congregation in Austin, TX with the idea of trying a number of ideas out. I felt that the New Church Movement (i.e. New Christianity, or Swedenborgianism), despite being a powerfully beautiful vision of the Lord’s Kingdom, was struggling to fully reach all of the people in the world who could benefit from it. It was my opinion that the movement needed to find new external forms in order to better reach a broader range of communities, cultures, and individuals. The areas
I wanted to try new things in included:
- Preaching – Can we get away from lectures and make church more human while becoming more effective at teaching the truths revealed in the Lord’s Word?
- Doctrine – Can we find more accessible ways of presenting the Lord’s truths about life, repentance, regeneration, faith, charity, etc., so that anyone with an open mind can immediately connect with what is being said?
- Worship – What new forms, structures, music, and ritual can we discover that combine to be a good vessel for the Lord’s Word while also being a useful and meaningful way of helping 21st century people connect with one another and with the Lord?
- Outreach – What modern–and postmodern–methods of finding and connecting with new people can we make use of, and how receptive is the average person in today’s world to the message of the Lord and of True Christianity?
- Evangelism – What if true New Church evangelism isn’t just about spreading good news, but also about living good lives? What does evangelism that is founded on the doctrine of faith and the life of charity, married to one another, look like?
- Church Planting – All congregations have lifespans, some long, some short, so if the movement is going to last more than a few generations, how do we develop systems for starting new congregations? How possible is it to “hang out a shingle” and have people show up and form spiritual communities where there were none before?
- Financing – Given that there is not an infinite supply of resources for starting and supporting church communities, can we demonstrate a business model that allows us to plant church communities that are not merely self-sufficient, but that eventually sponsor the birth of other, daughter communities down the line?
Well, I am here to report that together we have hit it out of the park on six of the seven areas of experimentation. And on that final point–financing–we have learned some very valuable lessons that I promise you will be applied to future church planting efforts if I have anything to say about it.
Yes, this is sad news. But I want you to understand, too, that by the time we close our doors on this natural institution we will have operated for six years. That is six years of sermons about the life of charity, the deeper meaning of the Word, the love of the Lord God Jesus Christ. It represents six years of small groups, classes, dinners, service projects, baptisms, Holy Suppers, and Sunday worship gatherings. For six years we have served the spiritual needs of one another and of those in our surrounding community.
And you played a part in it. You are part of a large extended family that made these six years possible. Some provided funding, others provided counsel, many provided prayers, an amazing number give of their time and hard work, and all offered love and support. And through this collective effort spiritual light and heat were brought into the world, with a permanent, echoing effect that will cascade through countless lives, forever. Nothing can undo that. For that, I thank you.
More details will emerge in the coming days, weeks and months, regarding when, exactly, our last worship gathering will take place, where I and my family will be serving next, and what the timing of all that will look like. In the meantime, we will continue to worship together at 11 a.m. on Sunday mornings, and will continue to be the church to one another and to our neighbors.