We are in the process of joining forces with Elm City Church because we believe that we will be “Better Together” in
accomplishing our mission to reach people with the Gospel in Keene, NH.
1. Why are Praxis Church and Elm City Church joining forces?
Simply put, we believe that our two communities will be “Better Together” in accomplishing our common mission to see more disciples of Jesus made in the city of Keene and beyond. The combination of resources, vision, and people will create biblical unity and greater kingdom impact (Eph. 4:4-6).
2. What is Elm City’s strategy to fulfill its mission?
One of the major draws to this partnership was that Elm City and Praxis shared an almost identical mission. Elm City has a big vision to reach the lost in Keene and the surrounding areas through Life Groups (similar to Exchange Groups). The prayer is that one day there will be 1 Life Group for every 1,000 people in a community (25 in Keene). There is a larger document available for those interested in seeing a more comprehensive outline of Elm City’s vision, mission, and strategy.
3. What is the timeline for this church partnership?
Praxis Church and Elm City Church plan to become one, combined congregation starting December 2, 2018 with an official “Launch Service” on Christmas Eve. Leading up until then, there will be multiple events coordinated to intentionally bring both communities together regularly (e.g. worship nights, seminars, informal gatherings, etc.).
4. Where will Praxis Church and Elm City Church meet?
Praxis Church will continue to meet at 43 Emerald Street through the end of November 2018 when their 3-year lease expires. Elm City Church will start holding a weekly Sunday service at the Hannah Grimes Center (25 Roxbury St, Keene) beginning September 9, 2018. Once both churches officially combine, they will continue to meet as one church at the Hannah Grimes Center with multiple services, or one combined service if a bigger facility can be secured. At the Hannah Grimes Center, there will be 4 children’s classrooms, a large conference room, and an auditorium space that can seat around 90 adults comfortably and 105 tightly. One major benefit to utilizing this space is that the rent and utilities will be almost $30,000 a year less than what Praxis Church currently pays.
5. How would the current structure of Praxis Church change (Board of Directors, Core Team, etc.)?
Praxis Church, as a legal entity, will officially dissolve in early January 2019. A new Board of Directors, Transition Team, and Core Team will be formed for Elm City Church with representation from both Praxis Church and Elm City Church.
6. What does this mean for Praxis Church and their association with Vineyard USA?
Praxis Church will officially leave the Association of Vineyard Churches and no longer receive oversight from the Vineyard Area, Regional, and National leader.
7. Will Elm City Church have an official association?
Elm City Church will pursue an affiliation with the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) within its first year. Accountability structures will come from the sending church, local leadership, and eventually the EFCA.
8. Are Praxis Church and Elm City Church compatible theologically?
Yes. There are no differences in theological beliefs between Praxis Church and Elm City Church. Both churches are theologically conservative and represent classic, evangelical distinctives (e.g. High view of the Bible, value for evangelism, a belief that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone). For more information, please visit http://www.efca.org/
9. What will the roles / job descriptions look like for Justin Barney and Albie Powers at Elm City Church?
Although they are both already highly collaborative in leadership function, this is not an official co-pastoring situation. Albie will be the Lead Pastor with a focus on steering and casting vision and preaching/teaching. Justin will assume more of a support role as an Assistant Pastor with a focus on organizational leadership, oversight of worship, development of small groups, and communications. Justin will also continue to have a major role on the preaching team.
10. Why will Albie Powers be the Lead Pastor of Elm City Church? Wouldn’t it make more sense for Justin Barney since he has more experience in that role?
It’s important to know that Justin pursued this plan with Albie and they both feel that this new arrangement will allow each leader the ability to spend the majority of their time in their respective areas of strength. Elm City Church is only going to benefit from having two gifted leaders who both have the capacity to lead.
11. Why will it be called “Elm City Church” instead of Praxis Church?
There’s a lot to a name. The strategy behind assembling a combined congregation under the name Elm City Church instead of Praxis Church is to communicate that 1) we are a new church with a new beginning, and that 2) we will represent and are for the city of Keene (officially known as the “Elm City”) in an even greater way.
12. What will the worship style of Elm City Church look like?
Elm City Church will be contemporary and creative in worship style, however, their philosophy is not to conform to one style or another. Instead, the worship style will seek to create Christ-centered environments for people to respond. Messages will be biblical and contextual, communion will be offered to believers regularly, songs will be a mix of modern and ancient, and offering plates will not be passed during services. Elm City Church wants its style to reflect the specific culture of where God has placed us. The best of Praxis Church culture and philosophy of ministry will only be strengthened through this partnership.
13. What will the preaching be like?
Albie will eventually take on 75% of the preaching and Justin (and others) will cover the remaining 25%. The preaching will be both topical and expositional depending on the need and season. The topical preaching will still be expositional. Justin and Albie have a similar preaching style, while also adding their own unique preaching “voice.”
14. How will membership be handled?
The EFCA is congregational in its polity. This means that each EFCA church is autonomous and self-governing. While each church handles what this looks like a bit differently, members in a congregational church have a big responsibility. Because of this, we will not rush into membership, but will unveil a process towards membership in the months to come. We are a believer’s church and official membership will only be for those who have both a professed and evident faith. Those who were already members at Praxis or Grace Church can continue on in their membership after going through an Elm City Church “Distinctives Class”. This will allow people to take ownership of the specific direction for Elm City Church.
15. What is the plan between now and Dec 31st for financial giving? Should we still be giving to Praxis Church? Elm City Church?
Praxis Church will continue to receive contributions from its people through the end of the fiscal year (Dec 31st). Elm City Church will continue using Grace Church to handle its finances until Dec. 31st. Starting January 1st, the combined church body will give through Elm City Church, which, by that time, will have its own bank account and financial systems in place. Donations will be made available to Elm City Church through online giving, in-person, and through the mail.
16. What can I do?
Be a champion! 1) Celebrate the wonderful opportunity that God has provided our two churches! 2) Commit time, energy, and money to the greater mission of the church. 3) Pray for the leadership of both churches as they navigate the details of this partnership. 4) Visit on a Sunday morning. 5) Attend the events meant to bring both communities together. 6) Keep up to date on the “Better Together” campaign communications. 7) Submit questions via email or in person.
17. What if I really don’t like this?
We get it. Change can be really hard. Our encouragement would be for you to walk through this transition process with us and then decide if it’s something that you still don’t like. At that point, we will do our best to help you discern and find a faithful, Gospel-centered church that you can be fully committed to and invested in.