Please note that the following is our current thinking. Things can change. We would love your input. As we go forward, we believe that the Holy Spirit will guide us through the process to make any changes needed in the strategy.
What is a parish incubation model?
A parish incubation model is a model of a church planting where the mother church incubates a new parish church until it is self-sustaining and ready to be spun off as an independent church. This means New City would have multiple neighborhood parishes that we are incubating, all of which would comprise one legal entity, with one budget, one leadership, and the same vision and core values. Pastor Kevin would serve as the head of staff overseeing parish pastors, lead pastor of downtown, and co-teaching pastor in parishes.
How did the vision to plant neighborhood parishes develop?
Pastor Kevin shared the longer version of the story in September 11, 2016 sermon.
In short, for almost a year, the Leadership Team, staff, and some of the key leaders of the church have been praying and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit about what God is calling us to do for the next five years. After much research, discussion, prayer, and discernment, the staff and the Leadership Team discerned that the Holy Spirit was leading us to the parish incubation model and planting the first parish outside of downtown in the lower San Fernando Valley.
Why should we pursue the parish incubation model?
We should pursue the parish incubation model for several reasons:
(A) God has blessed New City to be a unique church in downtown. While we have a long way to go, we are on track to be a church that (1) is diverse and inclusive; (2) is gospel-centered; and (3) loves our neighbors through mercy and social justice ministries. This is not common among the existing churches or even new church plants. With this blessing comes the responsibility to share the blessing. We see a heart of God that cries out for the city and a city that needs more inclusive gospel-centered churches that loves their neighbors through mercy and social justice.
(B) Church planting is the most effective way to reach more unchurched people, thereby extending God’s kingdom, and the parish incubation model best capitalizes on the strength of our church to plant more neighborhood churches.
(1) Church planting is the most effective way to reach more unchurched people: “Dozens of denominational studies have confirmed that the average new church gains most of its new members (60-80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshipping body, while churches over 10-15 years gain 80-90% of new members by transfer from other congregations. This means that the average new congregation will bring 6-8 times more new people into the life of the Body of Christ than an older congregation of the same size.” See Tim Keller’s Article, “Why Plant Churches?” That’s why Peter Wagner said, “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.”
(2) The parish incubation model best capitalizes on the strengths of our church to plant new neighborhood churches: (i) We can send people out to plant in a particular neighborhood without endangering the financial health of the existing body. If we send out 20-50 people to plant an independent neighborhood church, we might endanger the financial health of the existing body by losing the offerings of those people; however, in the parish model, we remain one financial unit for a time, and therefore, we have time to absorb the impact. (ii) We can take what we have done in downtown and seek to replicate it in other “intersection” neighborhoods.
(C) The parish incubation model helps us remain a neighborhood church, even as people are gathering from around the city. This allows people to worship in, fellowship in, evangelize, and serve the community near them instead of commuting into downtown.
(D) Planting a parish is significantly cheaper than planting an independent church and, it has a much higher probability of success.
How is the parish incubation model different from the multi-site model?
The parish incubation model is a type of multi-site model (one church with multiple worship sites). However, parish incubation model focuses more on the following compared to multi-sites in general: (1) digging deep into, taking spiritual and communal responsibility for, and loving and serving the neighborhood where the parish is located; (2) a commitment to live preaching by both the lead pastor and the parish pastor (no video sermons); and (3) the goal of releasing the parishes as independent churches at an appropriate time when they are sustainable. This is an incubation model of church planting. The goal is not to grow New City but to end up with a network of inclusive gospel centered churches that loves the neighborhood throughout the city.
Who will lead the planting of the second parish?
Kevin, in partnership with David and Michelle Guyer, will lead the planting of the second parish. David is already on the ground developing the core team.
How would this affect New City Downtown?
We are committed to do this in a way that makes sure that the downtown parish remains healthy.
Most worshippers will not notice the difference. Kevin will continue to teach 50-75% of the sermons in the downtown parish even after the new parish is planted. He will teach in both locations by staggering the worship times.
We have about 450 people who are part of the life of the community now. We believe that sending 20-30 would not unduly affect the downtown parish.
There would not be a negative effect financially because both parishes stay as one financial unit.
Are we in a financial position to do this?
We do not have enough resources to do this without additional financial pledges and support. Here are some possible avenues to raise the funds to make this happen: (1) Vision 2020 Campaign within the church. (2) Other churches that believe in this vision that want to partner with us. We are in conversation with one potential major partner and will start conversations with other churches. (3) Foundations and other supporting organizations like Stadia, Mustard Seed Foundation, and Stamp Foundation. This would be a careful process of meeting with individuals and pitching the vision and asking for support. Kevin believes that fundraising is doable.
When are we thinking about doing this?
We hope to publically launch the second parish in August, 2017. We would need 9 months for fundraising, core group development, and launch preparation to get to the public launch of the new parish in the Fall of 2017. Our goal is to develop a core team of about 50 people and do a big public launch. We used this strategy to plant New City downtown and it worked, and we believe that this will work in the Valley.
Who will pastor the new parish?
We have not yet determined this. As we go forward, we will make a determination on when and who to hire as the new parish pastor. Our hope is that we would hire someone from the inside of the church.
How will we develop the planter of the third parish?
We would like to start up a church planting residency program at New City to train and prepare the next parish planter while we are planting the second parish. We need resources to make this residency program work. Our goal is to bring in one resident in 2017.
Wouldn’t it be too much on the lead pastor to pastor two parishes?
Kevin will not be leading two parishes alone. TC, Hannah, Christine, Delonte and Josh will handle major responsibilities for spiritual formation, community engagement, pastoral care, and Sunday worship at the downtown parish. We hope to increase Hannah’s position to full-time and bring in a part-time pastor of community engagement. We will also hire a parish pastor for the new parish.
Who will pastor the downtown parish?
Kevin will continue as the lead pastor of the downtown parish with the help of TC, Hannah, Delonte, and Josh.
Who will preach in the new parish and in the downtown parish?
Kevin will continue to preach about 50-65% of the sermons in the downtown parish even after the new parish is planted. He will teach in both locations by staggering the worship times.
How will we determine who goes to the new parish and who stays?
This has not been determined yet, but no one will be forced to go to a parish to which they do not want to go. During the core group development phase, Kevin and the new parish pastor will have one-on-one conversations with people in the church and people we come in contact with to develop the core team. If you want to be a part of the team, you can. There is no limitation.
Where will the new parish be located?
The Leadershp Team decided that the next parish will be in the lower San Fernando Valley around Sherman Oaks, Encino, and Lake Balboa. There has only been one English speaking church plant in that area that we know of within the last several decades. There is a tremendous need there for a new inclusive gospel centered church that serves the community.
How will you determine where the third parish will be located?
We will seek wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit through communal discernment that includes the Leadership Team, staff and other key leaders. Ultimately, we believe that the Holy Spirit is calling us to go not where it is easy to plant, but where there is the greatest need.
What does the process of planting a parish look like?
Step 1: Sharing the vision to the church (September 2016)
Step 2: Fund-raising and hiring of new parish pastor (September 2016 to March 2017)
Step 3: Core group development (September 2016-August 2017)
Step 4: Soft launch or preview services (June or July 2017)
Step 5: Public launch (August 2017)
Why not just plant an independent church instead of a parish plant?
We will continue to partner with other churches to plant churches together through the LA Church Planting Movement. So, pursuing the parish incubation model does not mean we will stop planting independent churches. Also, read the answer to the question above: Why should we pursue the city parish model for further reasons.
Does this mean Kevin is leaving to another parish?
NO! Most worshippers will not notice the difference. Kevin will continue to preach about 50-70% of the sermons in the downtown parish even while the new parish is being planted. Kevin will preach in both locations by staggering the worship times.
Kevin will also be involved in leading the staff and the overall church and continue to pastor the downtown parish along with TC, Hannah, Josh and Delonte.