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.