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can be immensely rewarding, but you will be required to see possibilities and opportunities where others might see outdated or irrelevant spiritual practices.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.