I still drive the ’95 Nissan pickup truck my father and I purchased together my freshman year of college. The odometer reads 77,000 miles, but the odometer has been broken for well over a decade. The seats look pretty worn. There are scratches all over the side from my youth ministry days, hauling stages and equipment. I love my truck. There is a worn down place there on the driver’s side door where my elbow fits perfectly. Many great memories are connected to my truck, including my first date with Kaye and driving around practicing my first sermon. Another huge benefit is that it is hard to get a speeding ticket in my truck. The truck starts to shake violently if I hit 75-80 mph. It is a good check, kind of like a second Holy Spirit.
While folks verbally abuse my truck, it is not something I look forward to forsaking. I really don’t feel like shopping for something else. I am comfortable with the same old, same old. Yet deep down I know that I will probably love the new vehicle I will one day purchase. A fresh smell, a less bumpy ride, a radio that works, and a heater that does not take 10 minutes to kick into full gear will all be refreshing.
There is power in new.
In a local church, there is certainly power in new. Though we wish this were not true, as it should not always be this way, the reality is that “new” has a disproportionate amount of impact. Research and casual observation have noted:
- New believers share their faith more than seasoned believers. Sadly new believers are often the most passionate. They have not yet gotten over Jesus, and they are still connected to people far from God, still not yet fully engulfed by the Christian subculture.
- New small groups connect more people than existing groups. Once a group has been established, it feels closed. As a whole, new groups connect more unconnected people than groups that have been meeting for years.
- New worship services grow faster than existing worship services. The energy required to launch a new service creates momentum and grabs attention.
- New churches grow faster than older ones. Church multiplication allows for a new localized gathering of believers to impact a community and bring new people into the body of Christ.
New is powerful, but challenging a local church to launch new things can be, well, it can be challenging. Just as I will struggle with parting ways with my truck, many people struggle with parting ways with the status quo. The status quo is comfortable; the new is unknown. The status quo is easy; the new requires work.
Yet for the sake of the expansion of His kingdom, we must launch new groups, services, and churches. Though the new is often risky and uncomfortable, it must be embraced. And by the grace of God, we seasoned believers must be continually refreshed with the gospel of Jesus, returning to our first love, and sharing the faith like we did at first.
I am really excited about the new Bible study series from LifeWay—Bible Studies for Life. The 6-session studies feature authors like Chip Henderson, Ron Edmonson, and Pete Wilson. The studies are great for launching new groups to connect the unconnected and for aligning all the groups in a church around a singular direction. As you plan to launch new groups this coming Fall, consider Bible Studies for Life.