Here’s the interview, you should definitely read it. I think they did a great job of representing my dad’s vision for worship at NCF-Chatt. Thank you byFaith and Robert J. Tamasy for highlighting the ministries of New City Fellowship churches.
I will say that a consistent misinterpretation of NCF is to say that we are about contextualization. This is a half-truth. Contextualization is to say, “We are in a [random culture] neighborhood and so we have [random culture] style worship.” There’s nothing wrong with contextualization, but it’s not the complete vision. We believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is by nature a reconciling force. Our new identity in Christ makes us peace-makers across racial, cultural, economic, and generational lines. So our multi-cultural sound is more than just smart marketing, some attempt to reach a demographic group by being relevant. It’s an intentional demonstration of love with the goal of establishing God’s kingdom. The result is that we are not trying to make people comfortable in church; instead our goal is open up ourselves to being uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to sacrifice my stylistic preferences in order to be in fellowship with someone who is different than me. When Jesus called us to take up our cross, he didn’t have comfort in mind. When Paul encouraged us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, he didn’t have comfort in mind.
Worship should be uncomfortable because it means that we see God in all his holiness and then we see ourselves in all our mess. The response should be like Isaiah, “I am a man of unclean lips!” Grace is what brings us joy in God’s presence, but grace is also what makes us uncomfortable with the mess in the world around us. If we don’t leave church feeling uncomfortable with the status quot (meaning the fallen world around us which is characterized by division, racism, oppression, injustice, etc.) then maybe we haven’t encountered Holiness, repentance and Grace in a very real way. Randy Nabors was right to say that Christian worship should be defined by joy. We have every reason to rejoice in the Lord. But Randy would add that our Christian joy is always a force that drives us out into the world to be peace-makers and reconcilers.
Sorry, I don’t mean to preach so much. I honestly loved the article! Thanks again ByFaith!
ByFaith Interview with James Ward (my dad)