third way

What are the practical implications of Third Way? What does it look like?

Actually, the posture of being Third Way has been in the DNA of Newsong Church from its inception. What has always been implicitly a characteristic of our church identity is now being more explicitly stated.

We are finding that as our nation becomes more politically polarized, many churches and people of faith have also become more polarized along political and moral lines in the sand. A big question for people of faith in a polarized society is, “Is believing the same way about the same things a necessity for maintaining the kind of authentic unity that Jesus desires for his people as expressed in the Gospel John, chapter 17?” [1]

Does Third Way mean I need to change my beliefs to belong?

Embracing a Third Way posture does not require one to change their beliefs, but rather to challenge any negative attitudes towards those who do not share their beliefs.

At Newsong, what holds us together is our shared desire to cultivate a Christ-centered community of people who love Jesus, despite our differences. We choose to listen to each other’s stories with a commitment to honor one another wherever we may be at in our individual life journeys.

Is Newsong an affirming church?

We have found that the term affirming, especially in regard to LGBTQ folks, has taken on different nuances of meaning depending on the context in which it is used.

At Newsong we do not wish to make a broad statement that assumes or requires that everyone believes or values all of the same things, especially when it comes to important or potentially controversial matters. Regarding the question of who is welcomed and included at Newsong, we want to clearly communicate that all people are welcome which certainly includes LGBTQ folks.

[1] The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one;  I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me. (John 17:22-23 NASB)

Is an LGBTQ person invited to experience the full life of the church?

Yes, it is our hope that everyone who considers Newsong Church to be their community of faith will fully participate in every aspect of community life. We strongly encourage each person to be actively involved in a Haven Group in which eating together, having meaningful conversations, and playing together (doing life and making a difference together) is a normative expression of belonging.

Is Third Way another way of saying “hate the sin, love the sinner?”

No, not at all. If anything, being Third Way is largely about recognizing that every person has beliefs and convictions about faith, morality, etc. that are deeply seated and very important to them. For us at Newsong, one’s ability to belong is not predicated on believing or valuing all of the same things.

In the Bible, Romans 14:1-4[2] addresses a heated disagreement about the practice of eating meat which had previously been offered to idols in pagan temples. This was a very polarizing topic among followers of Jesus back in the day. Some people in the church believed that the practice was absolutely sinful while others thought the practice was completely permissible. The biblical writer addressed the matter by acknowledging that a person’s individual faith convictions will sometimes lead to different conclusions. He then exhorts his readers to stop judging one another, to seek peace and to avoid quarrels.

[2] Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. (Romans 14:1-4)

Does Newsong believe that being gay is a sin?

Newsong does not represent a monolith of shared beliefs by everyone in all matters of life or practice. We do expect that for those who participate in community life at Newsong, there are differing opinions about what is/or is not sin.

We are aware that not all senior leaders or staff members at Newsong fully agree on this question, nor is agreement required. If anything, we find it beautifully compelling when followers of Jesus choose to walk together in unity without requiring uniformity in every one of our beliefs.

What is the expectation set for staff to maintain a safe environment when it comes to potentially difficult or damaging conversations with our community?

The concluding declaration in Newsong’s Third Way statement of inclusion says, Love also calls us to systemically address the power dynamics wherever it exists, where those with power choose to invest it in the flourishing of those who are marginalized.

Newsong’s senior leadership and staff members are each fully committed to promote an environment of safety for everyone who makes Newsong their church home. A big part of what we mean by this includes communicating and cultivate what we are calling “good table manners” by every person.

How do we describe “good table manners” for the Newsong community?

Having good table manners is expressed whenever we choose to walk together in mutual submission and humility. We willingly give deference to others for the sake of love and we treat others as being better than ourselves. Jesus modeled submission and humility for others by loving sacrificially, he gave his life for us.[3]

In practical terms:

  • We posture ourselves as continual learners.
  • We remain curious and listen well to others with a view to understand, especially those who are not like us.
  • We use our words with respect and kindness, there is no need to persuade others to a particular point of view.

[3] And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11)