A Story of Vitality
By Gary Westra
God used a coffee cup to lead New Life Community Church (RCA) on a journey.
When one generation began bringing their coffee into our worship center in Wendell, Idaho, another generation felt a violation of sacred space.
Some of our church’s leadership felt there should be a vote by the congregation, while others felt it was silly to even be talking about this non-missional issue.
We turned to the Congregational Vitality Pathway for a way forward. The Congregational Vitality Pathway is a process that helps churches transform their culture. One way it can help is by reconciling generations within a church. In many churches there are two generations present. These two generations like each other, but sometimes they can drive each other a bit crazy.
By walking the Congregational Vitality Pathway together, we were able to develop an adaptive approach to ministry while valuing each generation and having conversations that were civil, compassionate, and Christ-honoring.
The process involves being intentional about what you’re called to do as a local church. New Life feels called to connect people with God in heartfelt worship and a compelling Christian community. So, through the process, we focused on connection. We created a guest services team and space for connecting personally with people. We shifted some attention to the guest’s experience, helping them to connect. The culture shifted from connecting people to information to connecting them with a person and, ultimately, with a God who loves them and has a purpose for them.
For one woman named Suszan, that connection has led to a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
“I am in awe of how my spirit has changed since renewing my commitment to faith,” she says. “I see my job in a different way and feel differently about how I touch people, a different strength and a different purpose. It’s wonderful.” Suszan recently asked if she could be baptized this summer at our annual river baptisms in July.
Through strategic ministry planning, New Life also developed a four-word process for discipleship that is focused, clear, and understandable: connect, grow, serve, go. Connect with God in heartfelt worship and a compelling Christian community. Grow in a life-transforming walk with Jesus. Serve through sacrificial and generous living and giving. Go intentionally and share the good news to our world.
God used a squabble about coffee cups to lead us on a pathway of discovering some Holy Spirit-led changes. These changes impact the mission of God in rescuing and restoring people in relationship with him through his son, Jesus Christ.
Gary Westra is lead pastor of New Life Community Church (RCA) in Wendell, Idaho.
[Photo courtesy Gary Westra]