Monthly Archives: June 2015

Planning for the Future, Factoring in the Present

A NYNO service, as we’ve been developing and practising them in Stockethill, Aberdeen doesn’t look like your average contemporary church service, in the Church of Scotland or elsewhere.

If you were looking for family friendly, modern innovation, perhaps you might expect charismatic leadership, contemporary worship music and plenty of audio-visual elements. Instead, in our services, you’d just see people, apparently repeating words and occasionally stopping to sing a hymn from yesteryear.

There is a lot of scope for NYNO services to look differently to the way they do for us at the moment. We don’t claim to have the best way of doing things. What we do have though, is a commitment to finding solutions that are reproducible and sustainable, that do not require the contributions of a minister (but which leave space for them if they are available), and that go out of their way to make worship multi-generational at its heart.

There is a problem, though, in developing solutions to very real problems when those problems are not recognized by others. It’s like asking someone who doesn’t believe in man-made climate change to walk to work rather than take the car. Why would you deny yourself the company of your peers (if you are in the first half of your life, the chances are that most of your peers won’t be joining you in a NYNO congregation), why would you fore-go modern music (there’s no innate reason why a NYNO congregation shouldn’t enjoy great music, but practically speaking we haven’t been able to develop that here yet), why might you use a liturgy to guide your worship (wouldn’t a charismatic preacher/teacher be so much more inspiring)?

There is an innate challenge to working in a NYNO congregation, especially a young undeveloped one.  Many of our guiding principles do not readily produce an accessible, immediate and emotional payoff. Developing a NYNO congregation can be immensely rewarding, but you will be required to see possibilities and opportunities where others might see outdated or irrelevant spiritual practices. The challenge is constantly to keep our principles in place and to be creative.

It doesn’t seem easy to convince people to make a sacrifice unless the reward is just round the corner. Convincing people to come to a NYNO congregation rather seems like asking them to become a Christian. But, perhaps that is how it should be.



Principles and Process

Working Towards the Ideal Congregation

NYNO is very much an idea as much as it is anything else. It’s an idea inspired by Scripture, by the situation that the Church and society finds itself in at this point in time in the UK.

Briefly, the idea is that full expressions of church can exist that recognize the needs of its older members and therefore places them at the centre of their congregations. We believe doing this can be good for every generation that participates in such a congregation. We hope as well that any church that lives in this way will be better equipped to witness to the world, living in a way that speaks against the separation of old and young and that points to the wisdom of Christ centred community in the present and the hope of the redemption of all things in the future.

This idea can be both inspiring and intimidating. Again and again, we have seen people respond with enthusiasm when we describe what we hope to do and why we are doing it. Equally, we have encountered uncertainty as to how such a ‘perfect’ idea could ever become a practical reality. How, for instance, could a church survive without a dedicated minister; where will the youth come from; is there enough teaching?

There are one hundred and one practical questions that are unresolved by the simple idea and most of these issues will need to be resolved in the unique location and community in which you hope to see a church grow.

And yet, we’re not worried and we don’t think you should be either. Church planting with NYNO will be a process. The ideal, diverse aged, autonomous congregation, a spiritual home for all involved, will not spring into life immediately. It will require patient leadership, that holds onto the ideals of NYNO while making one change at a time, at each stage inviting the congregation to participate. That leadership (a team, I would expect) will have to be stubbornly singled minded when it comes to the ideas, the principles of NYNO. At the same time, it will have to be gracious and patient, recognizing that people will take time to understand the what we are aiming for. It will also have to have faith, realizing that there will be problems that won’t have an immediate solution that needs to communicated gently to the congregation. Together we will have to pray our way forward, always holding onto the end goal believing that God has given us this, even while the path that leads there remains bewilderingly winding.