NewSong churches have developed a unique perspective and model for building church community, anchored on these twelve functional convictions:
Our church gatherings prioritize ministering to Jesus. Consumerism kills church effectiveness, and seeker-friendly services throttle His praise. If the focus of our gatherings is on either the lost or ourselves—our comfort, our expectations, our experience—we cannot bear fruit. A church united in its desire to minister to Jesus first positions itself for His favor and then directs its focus outward. This means setting a table for the King each time we meet, attending to Him with lavish praise. It requires an end to our fixation with church programs, church events and church buildings which typically monopolize our collective time, energy and resources.
Our churches are committed to honoring legacy. In other words, we are committed to refraining from attitudes, behaviors and language which will in any way undermine or demean our fellow believers who participate in traditional church, which we refer to as “legacy” church. Our method is not better than that of legacy churches, nor is it more enlightened. Legacy churches can do and accomplish things we (micro churches) cannot. We’ve seen similar iterations of several of these distinctives modeled within the legacy church context, and we’re indebted to many of their anointed leaders for their wisdom, teaching and godly example.
Our churches are small, and we intentionally limit the size. In the U.S., megachurches are growing while Christianity is shrinking. This fact presents a riddle which the microchurch model attempts to solve. Considering the example of Jesus Himself, it seems self-evident that pastors cannot effectively and actively disciple more than 12 individuals—let alone hundreds. If authentic discipleship is the goal, shepherding smaller groups is the clear answer.
Engaging the Body
Our church gatherings strive to engage every believer, because a church is not a one-man show. New Testament churches not only benefited from a multitude of teachers, but they also were instructed to make room for each believer to bring his/her gift: a song, a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, an interpretation, a prophecy, etc. (1 Corinthians 14:26). When this takes place, believers are challenged to let go of entertainment mindsets and act as the Body of Christ.
Our churches follow a five-fold leadership structure. Based on Ephesians 4:7-13 and under the headship of Jesus Christ, the church follows the vision cast by an apostolic leader/team. Prophets come alongside the apostolic leaders to provide direction & discernment. Pastors/elders provide ongoing spiritual leadership and shepherding. Those recognized as teachers and evangelists train and equip the body. The entire governing body functions interdependently and in mutual deference.
Growth by Conversion
Our churches emphasize growth through discipleship of pre-believers. We believe that for too long, Western Christianity’s fixation on church growth has reduced us to “sheep-swapping” entertainment centers. If this is true, not only does it radically miss the point of ecclesia, but it also fuels consumeristic mindsets about church. In contrast, a Kingdom-building mindset recalibrates our efforts on discipling pre-believers, which results in growth by genuine conversion.
Our churches are missional. This speaks to our purpose, not to our gatherings. Outside of our corporate worship, all of our time, energy and resources should be focused on the lost, ministering to needy and discipling pre-believers.
Our churches are led by pastoral elders. The terms “pastor,” “elder” and “overseer” are used interchangeably throughout the New Testament and therefore refer to the same position. The primary role of our elders is to shepherd people, not to make business decisions.
Our churches prioritize kids. We strive to incorporate children into every aspect of Body life. This doesn’t mean lowering our standards to childlike maturity, but calling up our children into their giftings in age-appropriate ways. We do this in part by exposing them to authentic, mature worship instead of isolating them from our gatherings.
Our churches practice centralized giving, which means giving is collected corporately. We do this for two primary reasons: 1) to reduce network-wide administrative efforts and 2) to balance out financial disparities from region to region, such as being able to support pastors in low-income (low tithing) areas.
Our churches are managed by deacons. The practical aspects of church operations and administration (business decisions) should be handled by gifted men and women elected as deacons, not by the shepherding pastors.
Our churches regularly combine meetings. In order to strengthen, encourage and learn from one another, regional NewSong home churches meet together once per month to celebrate together and cross-pollinate.