Latest Planning on Developing the New City Network
Toward the Development of a New City Network
Recently a planning group met to plan the next Justice and Reconciliation Conference. The first conference met last January (2011) hosted by New City-St. Louis and from that event a group was invited by Pastor Barry Henning to plan the next one, which conference is planned once again in St. Louis, for the 24th-25th of January in 2012.
During our discussions we examined to some degree the various connections that intersect between those of us who are involved in these issues of justice, mercy-development, cross cultural church planting, urban ministries and from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds and commitments.
Here are some of the ones identified:
· MNA multiple ethnic movements
· PCA Mercy Conference
· Cross Cultural Music and Worship Conference
· Justice & Reconciliation Conference
· Christian Community Development Association
· Christian Health Centers & Clinics for the poor
· Economic development and mercy ministries
· Christian schools in inner cities
· Inner City church planting
· International church planting among the poor
Mosaix and other reconciliation type movements
We recognize that many of us from the PCA are also members of a Presbytery, or may be connected with another church planting organization or network, or in coalition with some other urban and justice ministry. For those of us in the PCA our Presbytery holds our credentials and holds us accountable in our spirituality and orthodoxy. We do not see nor want networks to take the place of Presbytery.
There is some disagreement about what overall network holds us together, and some may not see themselves in the New City Network, but only joined by a couple of these organizations or activities. That is fine; it doesn’t cut us off from each other in fellowship or willingness to work together. Not everyone is involved in everything, and that is also to be expected.
I do think for the New City Network to function well it will need to be a defined affiliation. Obviously many of us will have other affiliations of varying natures, but the New City Network will need a constituency. Those who make up the group will need to financially support it, be involved in it, hold it accountable, and receive benefits from it.
What does the network offer to those who are part of it? I envision these things:
· An identity; for your church and ministry that helps define what you are about. For better or worse once it is known you are part of this network you are tarred with our brush (I’m sorry). May the Lord make it an honorable identity.
· Conferences; that are built by New City churches for New City type issues, such as theological reflection on issues such as Justice and Reconciliation, Cross Cultural Worship and Music, and mercy ministries, [and the Leadership Conference (by invitation), planned for 12-16 NOV, 2012.]
· Training; for member churches in cross cultural ministry, inner city evangelism, Deacon and mercy ministry, economic development ministry, ministry to widows and orphans, medical ministry, inner city Christian schools, immigration and refugee ministry, etc.
· Church plants; research, recruitment, training, and placement of church planters for inner city church plants.
· Funding; assistance for New City type church plants.
· Visitation; consultation, and encouragement for inner city churches and church plants. [To include modeling and mentoring].
· Coordination; and cooperation for international church planting efforts.
· Advocacy; and information sharing for issues of mutual concern.
· Referral; and referencing various training and resourcing events, agencies, and people.
What do we expect from you if you are part of this network? I think affiliation will mean some very tangible things.
1. We should all pay something toward helping other inner city churches be planted. I challenge you not to think you can’t do that because you are raising all we can for our own work. Of course you are, but even if it is just a token amount, you should give to the next church plant. From day one you need to teach and model missions and Kingdom expansion to your people.
2. We should work to stay connected. This means that you need to show up to at least one of the network conferences each year and try hard to get to the Leadership Conference.
3. You should share ideas, methods, names of potential staff and church planters, and inform your own congregation of the network so they know they have friends and spiritual brothers and sisters.
4. Be an advocate for cross cultural ministry, racial reconciliation, and justice for the poor wherever you are; especially in your own presbytery and in our denomination.
5. That you would stay true to the Scriptures and the Gospel of Grace and that this work would never be an end in itself, but only the living out of a life of faithfulness to the glory of God and His kingdom. This means we are all still controlled by everything the Word of God says, so as we pursue justice we must still remain loving, humble, and forgiving.
It is my expectation (Lord willing) that I will begin fund raising for my position at MNA in January, which will allow me to serve the New City Network and promote urban and mercy ministries in the larger denomination. I expect to be free to do this on a full time basis sometime in the later part of 2012. This fundraising will also go toward building a church planting fund and it is my hope that the network will appoint a committee to decide how that money will be distributed. My goal for the church planting fund is Ten Million Dollars; so that we can give away a million dollars a year. (I figured it might as well be big as small, since it will all be by God’s providential blessing anyway.)
If you know of others who you feel should be or might want to be part of this network please send this document to them, or have them get in touch with us. There are folks in large “bridge” type churches that are involved in reconciliation efforts and ministries of mercy. There are those who feel all alone in some very poor neighborhoods, barrios, reservations, and ghettos. If they want to join with us in the spreading of the Kingdom of God through the message and ministry of reconciliation please let them know we want to help them.
New City Chattanooga is planning to call me as Pastor Emeritus after they have chosen the next Senior Pastor. They plan to continue to give me some financial support over the next several years as I raise full support and go with Mission to North America to develop Urban & Mercy Ministries. A large part of that will be helping to coordinate the New City Network. I am very grateful to my church and for the willingness of MNA to support me in this effort. I hope that I can relieve New City of obligation as soon as I can. Joan and I hope to take some sabbatical after the transition, and we ask your prayers for us, New City Fellowship, and the new pastor (?) and his family as we all go through these changes.
If you know of anyone who would like to contribute toward my support, or toward the ten million dollar church planting fund, please have them direct their gifts to Mission to North America, designated for those items.
I am honored to be in your company, thanks for your commitment.