January 23, 2019
The 100 New Faith Community (NFC) Initiative for the CTC has just surpassed the 30-grant approval mark. We also have many churches that are participating in the New Faith Community initiative without the grant. And the NFC is bearing fruit. We continue to hear narratives from around the conference on how New Faith Communities have ignited a new level of energy in and around our local churches.
The metrics are supporting those narratives. Churches who have received a New Faith Community grant are showing 4.4 percent growth in Average Worship Attendance for the last 12 months, which is more than double the total Conference growth of 1.8% (click here to enlarge the graph to the right). This is an exciting season for our conference as we reach people we are not already reaching and continue to drive toward our WIG of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
As the 100 New Faith Communities initiative unfolds, new methods and ideas on how an existing church can be transformative and begin a growth season by beginning a NFC emerge. If you and/or your church is hearing the call to launch a NFC, check out the 100 New Faith Communities page or give the Smith Center for Evangelism, Missions & Church Growth a call (817-877-5222) and get started on the simple path towards getting your NFC grant.
The 100 New Faith Communities page of the conference website is loaded with information regarding NFCs and grant qualifications. Here are some things to consider and get lined up to help make the grant process even easier and give your New Faith Community the most possible shot at success.
Location of New Faith Community ~ Is it going to be on the church campus? Which space will be used? Will it be in a separate place, school, restaurant, barn, or large home, etc. Identifying the space can help define what the NFC needs to look like, who can be reached there, and give how much time to ready the space with needed upgrades. Planning is everything in making a NFC work.
New Faith Communities leader or leaders ~ Who is going to lead this, preach this, be the main driving force; it can be the Sr. Pastor, Assoc. pastor, or another person. Someone must have this as the priority for the leadership and work in this season. This cannot be an addendum, or it will get lost and fail.
Who do you intend to reach that you are not already reaching? Most NFCs that succeed do so because they aim not just at a group, but at a group that the church is not already reaching in existing services. It can be the unchurched, young families, singles, or an ethnic group. But this decision should be decided early on as it will drive what the service looks like and who will be involved in leadership.
Vison: what is your vision for this New Faith Community? Be specific and include numbers: Maybe the most important part of this NFC season is finding a passion for reaching people with the good news of Jesus Christ, a sense of this being a priority for the church and the leadership involved in the journey. Decide the focus, work on the metrics and identify the purpose. These are all things that will keep leadership on track and allow the NFC to work through the ups and downs, and even possible revisions as you go on this adventure. This is just like beginning a new church. The leaders must be absolutely committed and depend on the Holy Spirit
Discernment: what research and due diligence has been done in preparation? This preparation process might take months or even a year and should involve many of the church leaders and members; including studying other models that have worked, breaking down past NFCs that have begun but failed, exploring the needs of the community, examining what is needed in the space of choice that needs to be upgraded, possible new staffing, etc. Don’t jump in, gently and wisely with steadfastness move through the process.
Target: Who are you trying to reach, what demographics, what needs, and what leads you to believe this or these groups might be receptive? Part of this is not only doing a MissionInsite study or another study to see who is in your community you are not reaching but being selective as to who you think the church might be able to reach. It is frustrating to target a group that we might not have the ability, knowledge, or leadership to reach. This is an important decision. Knowing who you want to reach and think you might reach will be everything in deciding the many layers and elements that will form and shape the NFC. This should be decided early and is often the mistake that failed NFCs have made. Reaching people, we are already reaching seldom requires a NFC, it’s new people who do. Design the New Faith Community around them.
Strategy: give a time frame with dates on the calendar, name the New Faith Community, and resources such as budget and staffing ~ What is the dedicated space being used, and the core groups already dedicated for the NFC. It takes passion, work, people, and deep faith to make a NFC succeed. If you are lacking any of these, or go out half-hearted and half way, it will fail and disappoint many. Make it work. Put the starting date on the calendar and work backward to meetings, gatherings, budgeting, preaching points, communication, marketing, practice services, preview services, kick off, and the how to’s that will drive the first few weeks. The beginning is critical and planning thoroughly is a non-negotiable piece of this. If we try to do this without the work and proper planning, it will fail. A minimum of planning probably takes at least six months in a small church and one year in a larger church. Then ensure that you can maintain past the beginning and lead and do the work for months and even years.
Discipleship Pathway ~ How will this make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world? What is the pathway to discipleship for this New Faith Community? The goal can’t just be community or friendships. Church has a clearly defined purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ. How are we going to do this? How might we connect this with other processes and people in the church? How are we going to help people enter faith, grow in their faith, and then participate in making more disciples. This is the Book of Acts model. Making disciples is not accidental or a by-product, it is intentional.
Who will the lead person be, who will assist them - give the names of the team? There should be one lead person responsible. Are there a few key people on the team, music, worship, hospitality, marketing, group leaders, set up, and audio visuals, etc. Name them, know who they are, get buy-in, get them together, involve them in decisions, and pray together. Don’t wait till it begins or you will hit roadblocks before you do this. The New Faith Community will fail
Identify the prayer team who will be praying for and supporting the New Faith Community. Create a prayer team that prays for this NFC for months ahead. Include people who will be a core part of the NFC but also others in the church who will not be. We want to unite the church around it's mission, not divide it. Prayer and centering in Christ and His call is a critical part of this.
Identify any community partnerships that will be a part. Sometimes NFCs can begin in partnership with other churches, or even community organizations. This can be especially true in a NFC centered in addiction, recovery, ESL, preschools, bingo halls, restaurants, or other organizations. Have these kinds of discussions early. Even a space that is used can be in a partnership with the main use of the space.
Is there a specific model that is being used for inspiration and direction? Creativity is very encouraged, but sometimes an existing model that has proved successful can be very helpful. It reveals what is working to reach new people today, unchurched people, or a certain demographic. There are many ways to do this research and it’s certainly encouraged.
Please provide a financial plan that includes benchmarks that must be achieved that define success for this New Faith Community. This includes a defined process for when and how to end the New Faith Community if it does not reach those dated benchmarks. What kind of offerings are expected and or needed? What is the process that will help achieve these offerings? When do you need it to become self-sustaining? What numbers do you expect to participate, how much does it need to grow, and what metrics define a success? Prepare for growth and try not to settle. But also, if those benchmarks don’t succeed, what is the pathway to end the NFC and involve the NFC participants, so they can participate in trying to reach the goals and understand the outcome if they are not met.