We created this page
For folks who don’t know about our community.
It’s a safe way to check us out before you come. It’s also helpful if you’ve already visited—found us pretty non-traditional—and would like to figure us out.
It’s the story of how we got to be the way we are. It’s the longest page on the site, but maybe the most helpful.
It is no secret that the Christian Church has seen better days. We’ve been in decline for at least 50 years—decline in numbers, decline in character, decline in reputation. The word “Christian” used to mean something good. Today it is associated with more negative things …
- Intolerance, hypocrisy, hatred, ignorance
- Exploiting adults for money and children for sex
- Antagonism toward science, women, and LGBT people
- And a lot more.
When we founded NRCC in 1995, many of us were deeply disillusioned with our religion. It was clear to us that the Church had lost its moral authority.
But we are not the first generation of Christians to have lost our way. We have a saying in our community. “It is our way to lose our way. But it is also our way to find it again when we do.”
But many good Christian folks have tried finding our way again. But it hasn’t gone that well. We’ve tried to be more relevant. We’ve tried better music. We’ve tried social media. We’ve reorganized ourselves—service providers for spiritual customers. We’ve produced spiritual products and programs for target consumers.
All of which would be fine … if it was helping.
But it’s not.
Our community has joined a growing community of churches asking ourselves a really uncomfortable question. How did we get things so wrong?
Historically, when we lose our way this badly, we end up wandering in the wilderness. As a community,l we decided to go there on purpose. We decided it was the place for us—humbled, quieted, and searching for a truer, more authentic spirituality.
1995 – 2006
When we first gathered, that was us. Lost. Wandering in the wilderness. Most of us had been deeply involved in church—some deacons, some elders, even a few former ministers. Almost all of us had been chewed up and spit out by church.
We didn’t know what to do. We couldn’t build a church, because we had rejected church. We didn’t know how to form spiritual community. We just knew we would never do the churchy things that had hurt us. We puzzled over how to be spiritual and how to be a community, without becoming toxic and wounding.
Disoriented, we didn’t trust our own religious instincts.
So for a long time all we did was gather and become friends. We licked our wounds and grieved our losses. We were companions in our loss and confusion.
We asked ourselves hard questions about what it means to be Christian—and if we wanted to be. We asked ourselves what church meant—and if we wanted any part of it. We questioned our most basic religious instincts. Why do people pray? Should we? Why do people sing? Should we? Should we gather on Sundays? Why do we sit in rows and listen to a talking head?
We had a lot of questions. Few answers.
It was a bewildering time.
It was a dismantling time.
We took comfort in the ancient wisdom that there is a time to tear down, and a time to build up. We invested pretty heavily in the tearing down part.
We challenged our most basic assumptions about the Christian story. We gave ourselves permission to question our most cherished beliefs and traditions. We couldn’t really do anything else. Our religion was falling apart anyway.
So 1995 to 2006 was about stripping down—and beginning to rebuild, re-imagine church. We did very little outwardly. We had very few programs, did very little to care for our city. We were too spiritually spent.
But we did stumble onto a contemplative vein of belief and practice that helped us.
- We learned the beauty of quieter, simpler lives.
- We rediscovered the ancient practice of meditation.
- We stopped settling for secondhand, institutional religion.
- We began contending for firsthand spiritual encounter.
- We learned to listen carefully for the interior whispers of the Divine Spirit.
- And to restitch the torn fabric of community.
- We learned that we do better on the spiritual journey together than we do alone.
By the end of the decade we were experiencing a freer spirituality. No more sectarian oughts or shoulds. In the wilderness, we relearned the ancient wisdom of our tradition. Our souls began to heal. Our experience of the Divine Life was deepened.
We would have stayed quietly in seclusion, rediscovering—and savoring—spiritual community together…
Except, in 2007 two things happened.
First, our minister began a series of lessons about how the Christian church is undergoing a new Reformation. He kept talking about how, five hundred years ago the last Reformation was updating Christian belief and practice to work in their new worldview. And now, he said, we are in our own Reformation, update the Christian faith for a new worldview—the quantum worldview. He encouraged us to throw in our lot with the future. We began to reshape our language and practices—hammering out Christian belief and practice to work in our new worldview.
The bad news: forty percent of the community left that year.
The good news: sixty percent stayed.
There was a lot of sorrow that year.
The second thing that happened in 2007 was an inner restlessness about how isolated we were. It began as a rising compassion for people in our city. We knew that something wonderful was happening among us, but felt like we were hiding it. We knew there were others in our city who could benefit the same way we were.
So in late 2007 and early 2008, our community talked about opening our hearts and doors to others. We’d talk about it—but then we’d get afraid and back off. But then we’d talk again. Back and forth we went—for a long time.
We were afraid that if our community got bigger, we’d lose something precious. Bigger numbers had always been a driving force in the churches we came from. We’d been down that road and were in no hurry to go again.
But after a while we couldn’t shake the restlessness. We felt the same nudge to exit the wilderness, we’d felt years before, to enter it.
Our minister started the whole thing. He kept talking about his own internal nudge. “There are people in our city,” he would tell us, “on the same journey we are. But they’re alone.” He’d talk about inviting them to travel with us.
But again, we’d been burned by the church rat wheel. We had tried the whole reach-out-to-others thing. We’d already been sucked into a vortex of religious performance.
So thank you, Reverend Man … No.
So he’d back off for a while. But then he’d come back. “There are people in our city,” he’d repeat, “on the same journey we are. Let’s invite them to travel with us.” (He’s a persistent guy.)
So we’d consider it—but make excuses. Our facility wasn’t finished. We didn’t have coffee in the lobby. We were barely getting the bathrooms clean. It sounded exhausting! We were afraid we’d lose our souls.
But he kept coming back.
He was nice about it. But he kept nudging. And cajoling. Then backing off. And coming back.
Until finally our hearts began to soften.
And after a year of that, we began to overcome our fears. By 2008, the idea of opening our hearts and doors actually became exciting.
We began to get our facility ready. We began to write down the things we had experienced so we could tell our story. We redesigned our website to help people figure out if our community was a fit for them.
We were figuring out how to invite you to our community.
And now you’re here. Now you’re reading this.
And now, we are inviting you to share the spiritual journey with us.
If you are a church-leaver or a non-practicing Christian …
If you find yourself becoming more spiritual, but less religious …
If you are weary of empty religious forms, but hungry for authentic spirituality …
… we’d like to invite you to walk this journey with us.
2012 – Present
In 2012, our minister wrote a book about the things we learned together in the wilderness. At that time, we were part of a pretty traditional denomination. He wrote the book to help traditional Christians find a way out of this historical pickle we’re in.
You might be surprised. Our traditional denomination didn’t appreciate his help.
They invited him to leave the denomination (that’s a nice way to say it).
The whole community decided to leave together—a difficult decision since the denomination owned our building—and kicked us out.
As we were wondering if our community would survive, some very kind people from Temple Baptist Church heard about our dilemma. They invited us to share space with them. They have a large campus and invited us to use the chapel and children’s wing at the back of their property. Sharing space is a beautiful concept. It meets our space needs, keeps us out of debt, and reduces our environmental footprint. We like that.
And now we are relocated downtown. As we write this update, our hearts are healing, our future is secure, and our anticipation for the future is growing.
So again …
If traditional church has stopped working for you …
If you are spiritual, but burned by organized religion …
If you find yourself alone on the spiritual journey and would like to share the journey with others …
Come see if we would be a fit for you.