After much prayer, and after serving for 5 years as associate pastor at Redeemer Baptist Church in Chicago, EJ Ravago discerned that it was the right time to begin the process of church planting. Starting a church in Lake County has always been the vision of a few families who spent 14 years commuting to Chicago. The vision was to have a church that was local, while reflecting its diversity.
While there is space for homogenous churches in certain contexts (e.g. first generation immigrant churches), EJ was convinced that starting a diverse congregation would be both biblically and culturally relevant. The Gurnee/Waukegan area is more than ready to birth a church that is diverse in every way. The desire to be diverse is not fueled by societal pressure, but solely driven by the Gospel. Race, socio-economic factors, tradition, and perception continue to foster barriers, preventing reconciliation and unity to occur. Fortunately, the gospel breaks these barriers down, creating a context where authentic relationships can be formed and cultivated. And that’s just it – diversity is not our ultimate the goal but rather the means by which people from all walks of life can demonstrate a Christ-like love towards one another. We believe this is the New Testament’s vision for the Church.
With the blessing and oversight of Redeemer and Converge MidAmerica, and with the help of committed individuals and families, what is now known as New Abbey Church will publicly launch on September 25, 2016. You are more than welcome to join us on this journey.
Our calling is to be a diverse community committed to living and loving like Jesus.
That’s it! Plain and simple. Really, our vision is just a recapturing of what the New Testament church was from the beginning – a group of people from all walks of life who have gathered together around the belief that Jesus was their Lord and Savior, learning how to live and love like Him. Jesus’ unconditional love for us sinners, shapes our reality at New Abbey; it informs how we view ourselves, each other, and our neighbors.
Solitude. Community. Ministry
Solitude, community, and ministry are the three relational commitments we intend to foster and grow. Concerning these three areas, Henri Nouwen writes, “They all ask us to set apart a time and a place where God’s gracious presence can be acknowledged and responded to.” Our desire here at New Abbey is to be intentional about creating space and time for God and each other—and this takes commitment.
Life at New Abbey cannot exist without our personal time with God. Being alone with God (solitude) in prayer and in the reading of scripture is essential to hearing him (Psalm 46:10). From solitude, we then move to community where we listen to God together. As we grow closer to God, we naturally grow closer to one another; the love and forgiveness that we divinely receive flows through us and to each other (John 13:34-35). This is what it means to be in community. Flowing from community is our commitment to loving and serving our neighbors. This is one of our highest callings (Luke 10:27). Let us create this space together! Alone with God (solitude); Together with God (community); Serving with God (ministry)—this is life at New Abbey.
From these three relational commitments flow our core values.
Our Core Values
We deem the Bible as our rule of life. We believe that God speaks to us through his Word. While the message of the Bible is to be known, we also believe it ought to be lived. When our actions reflect what we believe, we incarnate the truth. While we will do this imperfectly, our hope is that the way we live points people to Jesus. (James 1:22)
We value the uniqueness God has given each person. We desire to honor God’s creativity by celebrating and accepting how God made you. Every single person is important. The church is not a community that strives to be uniform, but one that seeks to be united in diversity. Your experience, context, perspective, ethnicity, place of origin and everything that shapes you matters to us. (1 Corinthians 12)
LIVING OUT GENEROSITY
We are committed to living generously. Everything that we have belongs to God. While giving and tithing our financial resources is important and necessary, it is only part of what it means to be generous. Generosity intensifies once we learn that it is our lives that we ought to give to God and each other. Generosity is a lifestyle. (2 Corinthians 9)
We are committed to walking alongside people on their life journey. Faith is not merely a personal matter, but something that is navigated and expressed in and through community. Our priority is to connect with people, not plugging people into programs. Jesus models this, ultimately, as he establishes a relationship with us. (John 13:34)
We desire to be faithful not only in knowing what is right, but doing what is right. We commit to loving and standing in solidarity with our neighbors, listening to their stories, and navigating how we can flourish together. We are not only called to share the gospel, but also to clothe and feed those in need. (Micah 6:8)