Next Steps for New Life!

Sept. 13, 2018

Dear New Life Family,

This past weekend was a time of depth, connection and focus as we gathered together on our annual retreat. A huge thank you goes out to our retreat team — Stacy, Bob, Grace, Josiah, Austin, Mark, Bev and April – for all the hard work they did to make the weekend such a success!  Also, a special thanks to Jeremy and Stephanie for “over-and-above” set up work…and to EVERYONE for the delicious snacks and treats!

In addition to being spiritually refreshed (through releasing and receiving) in our experience of worship, community and mission, we continued an important conversation about the future direction of New Life.

Over the past six months, your leadership has been praying and thinking about next steps forward as we’ve been doing extensive research and engaging the whole church in conversation and prayer.  Among other things, we’ve engaged consultants, visited successful ministries, read books, had numerous conversations, and joined the entire church in committing ourselves to 40 days of intentional prayer for the church.  In addition, the church as a whole has engaged in community gatherings, “stories from the future” on Sundays, and journaling each week in order to listen to where God may be leading.  It’s been a privilege to engage in leaning into God together, and we are grateful to all of you for your engagement in this extensive, exciting and spirit-focused process.

The Board of the church committed to sharing a “directional decision” with you by early Sept., based on all of the above.  As we shared at the retreat this past weekend, we’ve looked at four possible options for New Life.

  • Status quo
  • Improve
  • Re-design
  • Re-start

Based on our prayer, conversations and research, we are excited to share a direction we believe will enable us to release ways of doing things that have resulted in a continuing decline for the church, and receive a new vision that God is giving us about a new way to operate as a church.  We are looking forward to embarking on a new journey to reach more people, care better for our current people, and renew more communities with the love of Jesus by engaging in a church restart process.  This will be an extensive and well-planned pathway that many declining churches have done successfully, and it will enable us to gain fresh vision and momentum as we start anew as a church.

Re-start means…

  • Revitalizing the ministry paradigms and processes
  • Rebuilding all of the ministry teams
  • Re-branding the church (perhaps even re-naming it)
  • Recruiting some new people to help us
  • Futher consideration of our facilities/location options in light of vision
  • Setting a date to re-start just as a new church would

Over the weekend at the retreat, each of our board members shared why and how they individually came to this unanimous decision.  We are very excited about the possibilities to come!  We also shared that we will continue to protect, uphold and value the healthy DNA of deep community and intergenerational life that has been a hallmark of New Life.  We are committed to deep care for our people as we move ahead.

We have a process that we are moving into to take our next steps.  The process will take a “concentric circles” approach.

  • Conversation with our All Ministry Leaders team about possible steps ahead.
  • The development and communication of plans with more specific steps as we make more specific decisions (i.e., financial modeling, staffing plans, ministry strategy plans, facility plans, recruitment plans, etc.). More specific steps will be communicated as we determine them in conversation.
  • A second round of Community Gatherings to discuss steps ahead with the entire congregation.
  • We expect that the full timeline of of all of the above (and the full restart process) will about 9-12 months (possibly a little shorter, or longer — up to 18 months).

We believe very firmly and strongly restarting is the direction God is leading us for the next season at New Life.  We also believe that as we walk down this pathway, we will see not only a revitalization of the church, but an energizing and revitalizing effect on the spiritual life of every individual in the church.  When God calls us to new mission, it is always an experience of growth.

Past experiences with processes like these in churches have shown us that new mission also brings new excitement!  We are looking forward to the experience of change, growth, fun and spiritual deepening that God has in store for us all.  More info will be coming soon – until then, please continue pray with us for God’s mission to be stewarded well in the resources and people He has given to New Life.

Blessings,

The Board of New Life

Bev Amano, Stacy Amano, David Cobia, Dale Gorman, Grace King, Kazu Shimasaki, Bob Sue, Jeremy Turner

 

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Day 40

As we complete our 40 Days of prayer today, we end with a beginning.

The opening of the book of Acts begins to describe a church on the move; a church that is vibrant and alive — a church on mission.

At our last session at the retreat we talked about the importance of mission in the life of a church.  It is mission that keeps us fresh and alive in God — it is mission that keeps us relying on God — it is mission that births and sustains healthy community.

This coming Sunday, we will begin a study of the book of Acts.  As you read the passage below (the one we’ll look at together on Sunday), ask God how He might be wanting to see our church become more focused on His mission.  Ask Him what your part in that might be!

Acts 1:1-11

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Day 39

Acts 2:47  — An Attractive Community

This community (in the last half verse 47), enjoys “the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

This is an attractive community.  People are drawn to it like magnets.  They can’t wait to get in on it!

I have developed a cardinal rule I use for speaking to groups of people. It has proven, over time that has proven to be the single most important piece of my preparation. Its what I call the “So What?” rule.  The idea is that when we read the Bible, and when we learn information from it, we always have to ask about what difference any of it actually makes in our lives.  We have to ask “So What?”

Today, ask God this:  So…what if this happened?  What if people were being added to the church daily as new converts? And then ask Him:  “What is my part in bringing that to pass?”

Day 38

Acts 2:44-46 – A Generous/hospitable Community

All the believers were together and had everything in common. [45] Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. [46] Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God…

This is a picture of a hospitable and generous community.  People are sacrificing so that the community can move forward.

Harvard professor Robert Putnam did an extensive study of community, the results of which he published in a fascinating recent book titled, “Bowling Alone.”  He discovered that on a very basic health level, relationally isolated people are 3X as likely to die than relationally connected people.  So strong was the research here that it led him to proclaim, “The single most significant thing you can do to prolong your life expectancy is to join a small group.”

As you pray today, ask God to show you what sacrifices He might call you to make for the sake of a visionary community.

Day 37

Acts 2:43 – An Awestruck Community

Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

This is an awestruck community.  The signs and wonders that were occurring were announcements of a new reality.  In this community, “thy kingdom come, they will be done” is an answered prayer.

As you pray today, ask God to give you a vision of His “other-ness.”  Ask Him to show you how BIG He actually is, and how that knowledge can impact your day-to-day experiences.

Day 36

Acts 2:42  — A Worshipping Community

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

This is a worshipping community.  Challenged by anointed teaching, encouraged by gathering together, and transformed by the sacraments – they live out an expression of an alternative reality.  The word “devoted” here means to be continually, perseveringly, diligent.  This is no side activity.  This is not something they do once a week, unless something better comes along, or the schedule becomes too tight.  This is an absolute, life-defining commitment to Jesus AND to each other – because they realize that spiritual growth does not happen in an individual context. They refuse to be distracted by false realities all around them, and they devote themselves to the re-calibration of worship.

As you pray today, ask God to show you your part in the worshipping community of New Life.  What is He calling you towards in terms of helping to lead the church into the future?

Day 35

Acts 2:41 – A Growing Community

“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

Can you imagine what would happen if 3,000 people in Los Angeles became Christians in one day? This is a growing community. There is something going on in this community that demands an explanation, and the community is committed to helping others find the answer to their questions.

As you pray today, ask God to give you a vision to believe things like this could happen in the here and now…