I’ve been asked by a few people lately: “So what do you think about Newspring coming to Greenwood?”
Normally, it’s also been followed by other phrases to express their thinking. I’ve heard: “Do you think ya’ll will lose members?” ”What kind of church do you think it will hurt the most?” ”I heard they take your bank routing number when you become a member.” ”I think they are a cult.” ”I couldn’t ever watch a preacher that wasn’t actually in the room with me.”
Since Perry Noble made the announcement a few months ago about Newspring starting a campus here in Greenwood, people in the Emerald City have had very different perspectives on the new campus.
Here’s what I think about it.
Any church that prizes the gospel and desires to glorify Jesus is a partner in the Kingdom, and I gladly welcome them. We aren’t in competition with any other church.
Churches have too long been in the territorial business of organizing their entire strategies to ensure they don’t lose their members to another local church or creating new programs to lure other members away to their congregation. If a church truly desires to reach the lost, then strategies won’t be built around marketing their church to increase through transfer growth. Much of the “church growth” that many people are sharing these days are more transfer growth (one congregation to another) than actual evangelism growth (new converts). So, if Newspring, or any other church, isn’t organizing for transfer growth, then there’s no problem.
Honestly, if North Side loses any members to Newspring or any other church in the area for styles of preaching, clothing, musical preferences, hype, programming, rock concerts, cantatas, guitar solos, or organ recitals, I honestly don’t think we will miss those type of members. You see, anyone who leaves any church for another church based upon selfish, preferential experiences will one day leave that church as well. These church hoppers have a cycle that they will continue unless something changes inside of them (not when they find the-ever-elusive-perfect-church).
- So, will Newspring’s presence in Greenwood cause transfer growth from all types of churches? Yes. It will change the dynamic, but the people who leave churches based upon another’s arrival already have made up their mind. They probably are already disgruntled because of something in their current church.
- Will North Side lose members to Newspring? Maybe. We’ve “lost members” to other churches before. I don’t think Newspring’s arrival will change that or be anything different than what is already experienced in every town in the Bible Belt. When someone doesn’t like something about their church or hears something better about another, it is unfortunately the American way to go find another.
- Will North Side change anything to compete? No. We are not in competition with brothers and sisters in Christ. We are accountable to God, and while we are not perfect, we think Jesus is honored in how we are living as a church. We kinda like the way Jesus has put us together.
- Is Newspring a cult? No, they are not a cult. I think Newspring has received a lot of criticism in its few years as a church – some unwarranted and some probably warranted. But I believe that the leadership of the church really loves Jesus and wants to make a difference in this world. I think they are a lightning rod for controversy for whatever reason which many interpret as being a cult.
- Do you agree with how Newspring does church? I wouldn’t do everything like Newspring does, obviously. But that doesn’t mean I am right either.
- Are there problems within Newspring? Yes. And there are problems in every other church in America. All you have to do is google “perry noble” or “newspring church” and you will find blogs upon blogs of people who have problems with the church and pastor. Some seem shocking. I pray many of them are inaccurate or downright lies. But, yes, Newspring has issues and there are problems within every church because each church has people like you and me in them.
- Could you have a video pastor? Probably not. I know it’s “working” all over the place, but that doesn’t mean it’s best either. If you aren’t aware, they will have a video feed of Pastor Perry’s message linked up at their live services. As a medium-sized-community, Greenwood will have a hard time swallowing the fact that there is a live band, worship leader, children’s workers, and other volunteers who all can be reproduced but a preacher who cannot. There will be a campus pastor that will serve as a liaison, but the preacher will not be live. The argument Noble and others used in the Elephant Room 1 was that you use your most talented guy to preach virtually in a lot of places than some decent preachers in a lot of places. My problem is that line of thinking puts a dangerous amount of confidence in the flesh and not the gospel. With that said, will more people come to hear Perry preach a great sermon on video than another Newspring staff member who is not as famous come give a “decent” sermon? Yes. Is it right? Depends on how you define “right.”
- Are you excited Newspring is coming to Greenwood? Yes. Because there are enough unreached people in Greenwood for every church to fill up their services numerous times. If Newspring can reach some of those people and they experience biblical teaching and authentic salvation, praise God. Additionally, if there are people from Greenwood who were unable to find one church in the whole community that “worked” for them that they felt compelled to travel each week to be a part of a Newspring service, I’m glad they can save money on gas and tithe that money now to their local congregation. That’s a really good thing for Newspring and a time saver for those people.
Before the announcement was made months ago, North Side’s staff received an email from Perry that wasn’t necessary but appreciated. Perry is good buddies with one of our pastor’s, Jamie Parler. Perry also told Jeff that he received Christ at a revival Jeff preached many years ago. Polly has worked on staff there, and I have many friends there. So, we’re connected with that congregation in a few different ways.
Perry’s email was sad to me. Respecting confidentiality, I won’t delve into specifics, but he told Jamie that in many places where they have started a site, they had received so much hostility from other churches, he was glad he actually had friends in Greenwood and hoped we could be partners in the Kingdom.
For the record, anyone who wants to do life and church Jesus’ way has a friend in North Side. I just pray for Newspring, North Side, and all the other churches in this area that we make the main thing the main thing. I pray we can do church that glorifies Jesus. I pray we can become a unified Body of Christ in this community. And I pray that all churches can lead their congregations to stop making it about us.
And that’s what I think about Newspring coming to Greenwood.