The work of Jesus was not a new set of ideals or principles for reforming or even revolutionizing society, but the establishment of a new community, a people that embodied forgiveness, sharing and self-sacrificing love in its rituals and discipline. In that sense, the visible church is not to be the bearer of Christ’s message, but to be the message. -Stanley Hauerwas
Central to being the church; the people of God is arranging oneself in groups that are of the size where they can strategize how to address the local social issues, where sharply focused training can take place and where decisive action can be planned and taken. Here the habits are formed by Christian friends, neighbors and colleagues working together, praying together, sharing one another’s lives and sorrows and frustrations and excitements. NT Wright in After you Believe
New Beginnings Church is organized as a collection of NEW Communities.
What is a NEW Community?
A NEW Community is a “small community of belonging” where a person is able to practice Nurturing relationships (koinonia), Embodying witness (martyr) and Worshipping God alone (theosis). The people who make up a NEW Community commit to “being there” for one another, their neighbors and God. These communities are an expression of the tangible Body of Christ, providing a way for each participant to be in Christ, with one another and for the world in real time. A NEW Community is a worshipping/witnessing community animated by the Holy Spirit. A NEW community is an echo and extension of the Trinity. A NEW Community is a local church. A NEW community bears witness to the healing power of God through their unity and love for one another.
A NEW Community is held together by three shared practices. First, they practice Nurturing relationships with one another. Rather than trying to fix one another, people of a NEW Community are learning how to simply be with one another through life’s highs and lows. Some of the ways this takes place is by:
- Sharing meals together
- Forgiving one another
- Laughing and crying together
- Sharing stories
The second common practice is to Embody witness. A NEW community understands first and foremost its life together is its primary witness to the world. They are called to be the message of reconciliation, not just proclaim the message; to be “good news” not just speak of it. They also understand they exist for the common good of the neighborhood and feel called to go and be with those in need. These convictions will lead a New Community to do things like:
- Practice hospitality in their neighborhoods
- Visit people in retirement homes
- Go be with the poor and forgotten
- Give generously
- Spend time with “at risk” young people
- Move into forgotten neighborhoods
The third common practice is to Worship God alone. A NEW community gathers weekly to worship Jesus Christ. Love for one another is the overflow of God’s love for us. In order to share love with others we must first receive God’s love.
We do this every time we gather together to:
- Search the Scriptures
- Sing/tell praise
- Pray together
- Break bread together
- Give of our resources and gifts that God has given to us
What makes a NEW Community?
- Pastor: A person who models service and shepherds within the NC.
- People: A people who have covenanted with one another.
- Practices: Following Jesus becomes a way of life; not a merely a belief system.
The relationship between each NEW Community and New Beginnings Church is like that of a matriarch to her children. The desire of NBC is to plant and nurture NEW communities, not control them. Each New Community is a church in it’s own right. Another metaphor is that of an orchard. Each individual tree is like a NEW Community where Nurturing Relationships are represented by the branches, Embodying Witness is represented by the fruit and Worshiping God is represented by the trunk. The whole orchard of trees is like the collective of communities (think John 15).
Each NEW Community is going to look and feel different. We desire to be a listening people, listening to what the Spirit is speaking within each community. The three common practices can be lived out in numerous ways. What is important is for each community to Nurture Relationships with one another, Embody witness in their neighborhood and Worship God alone.