New Faith Communities
What is a New Faith Community (NFC)? The truth is it can be any number things. It can be a new congregation started in a rapidly growing area. It can also be a gathering of people meeting in all kinds of places except a church! It can be the result of the merger of two or more churches. Most of the time our New Faith Communities result in chartered United Methodist Churches but not always. Regardless of what it looks like, New Faith Communities are one of our most significant strategies for fulfilling the Great Commission which calls us to go to all kinds of places to make disciples of all nations.
The legacy church model is what happens when an existing church, whose ministry has come to the end of its life cycle, makes the courageous decision to close. This makes it possible for a new church to be started in the same location. Oftentimes the opening of the new church takes place after a period of weeks or months after the legacy church has closed.
There are several church merger models used to help further and grow discipleship through the church. A vital church merger is when two or more churches merge as one church to sustain and further the life of the church. An adoption merger is when a church allows itself to be adopted by a usually larger church. The reason to do so is in the hope that church is strengthened by the infusion of fresh leadership and vision along with human and financial resources.
Alternative Faith Community
An alternative faith community is what happens when people in a local church come up with ways to reach people who might never come in the doors of the church. An alternative faith community combines religious practice with a distinctive element of local culture or community identity to extend discipleship beyond the church and into the community. Alternative Faith Communities may find themselves meeting on a beach, under a tree, or in a neighborhood coffee shop.
With a multisite NFC, an existing church starts a new faith community usually somewhere near their original location. This new community serves as a campus of the original church. The new community remains under a common umbrella with the original church sharing a common vision, staff, financial resources and more. With this model the church (on multiple sites) will function as one church.
A multi-venue plant is a new start which takes place within the facilities of an existing church. The new start is a part of the church and may even share some elements of its ministry, but it normally has a separate worship service and its own discipleship pathway. The goal is for the church to reach a population in the mission field the church is not presently reaching.