New Wine Collective: White Paper
Introduction: Rethink Church
People are longing for deeper spiritual and relational connection. We want to do more than just sit and watch church. We want to be seen and heard. We want to practice our faith in a way that makes sense for who we are, not someone else. We want a spirituality that encompasses all of life, not just Sundays. We want to use our voices and work on real-world problems such as injustice, inequity, and climate change. Many of us sense there must be a better way of following Jesus in the world and want to participate in shaping that new future in community with others! However, the status quo of top-down consumer-driven Christianity has left many of us feeling dissatisfied, bored, and burnt out–or simply, left out.
Over the past two decades, we’ve witnessed seismic cultural shifts that were well underway before COVID-19. The global pandemic is simply accelerating these changes. More and more people are finding the institutional church unrelatable, irrelevant, and unappealing–especially younger generations. Due to unfamiliar customs, awkward social situations, and often alienating doctrinal requirements, the barrier to entry is simply too high for most people. While the Sunday programmatic church is still valuable for many, the world also needs alternative expressions of church that are able to engage the millions who are longing for spiritual connection but will never walk through the doors of an institutional church.
Our world is hurting and broken. People are divided, disconnected, and lonely. Now, more than ever, the Church is in need of a systematic rethinking of many of its structures, strategies, and underlying assumptions. It is time for a fresh re-imagining of what it means to be the Church in our day.
What is New Wine Collective?
New Wine Collective is a movement for seekers, skeptics, and spiritual misfits looking for an alternative to traditional forms of organized religion. We’re envisioning a reimagined approach to church that lowers barriers, flattens hierarchies, and embodies a fresh expression of Christian spirituality that is radically loving and inclusive, peace and justice-oriented, and marked by theological humility.
Our mission is to help heal the world through love and connection by making spiritual community accessible to all. We will accomplish this by creating an online platform that empowers people to co-create and shape their own spiritual communities wherever they are.
Our structure: micro-communities
Church, at its core, is not about programming and production, although that is largely what we have made it to be. A church is a community that practices love for one another, love for God, and love for neighbors. In essence, church is a simple thing. Perhaps we have overcomplicated it!
We believe the most potent form of church is its most basic, organic, and accessible. It does not require special buildings or professional preachers or musicians. It is supremely flexible and capable of rapid contextualization anywhere and to any culture. It is not limited by location or space requirements and can flourish anywhere people are already living. What we’re proposing is a return to the Church’s roots: simple small communities that fit in living rooms with loving relationships at the center.
New Wine Collective seeks to create a decentralized network of local micro-communities (groups of 5-25) that meet regularly for the purpose of growing in love and compassion. This simple, relational, and non-hierarchical approach to church (inviting people to dinner, not a church service), can make the barrier to entry extremely low. These self-organized micro-communities will have the freedom and flexibility to creatively contextualize to any niche community (e.g. Crossfit gyms, gamers, artists, service workers, people with disabilities, etc.) and connect with people through any existing relational network.
Some call this structure "house church" but whatever it's called, it is one of the fastest-growing spiritual movements in the world. And we now have the opportunity to make small relational gatherings more powerful and accessible than ever before through the connective and multiplying power of the internet.
Our strategy: an innovative online platform
We believe the purpose of all spirituality is to make us more loving for the simple reason that God IS love. And if love is the goal, then anyone can do church! Our strategy is to develop an online platform that brings local people together around shared values for mutual relationships, shared spiritual practices, and missional collaboration for the common good (love, healing, and justice work).
Our online platform would function in three primary ways:
1. Group meeting/micro-community facilitation
We’re envisioning an online platform that draws on best practices and social science to help do away with most of what makes group meetings difficult and awkward. Our online platform will foster environments where people can co-create spiritual community on their own terms by:
- Functioning as a neutral facilitator, assigning roles, and equipping group members to introduce content and guide discussions
- Helping groups share power by taking turns in leadership, distributing talk time, and providing structure for mutual conversation, like having “guard rails” and “training wheels” for community
- Guiding spiritual practices and exercises that help people share stories, listen well, and relate to themselves and one another with love, empathy, and compassion
- Prompting and assisting groups to make collective decisions like: When and where should we meet? What should we do in our meetings? How can we serve our community? How do we end well? Etc.
Most importantly, the platform would empower people to take ownership of their own spiritual journeys. Members can use the platform to create and self-curate their own group content, practices, and experiences, which can then be shared with a growing user community. Eventually, this broader community would build a crowdsourced and constantly expanding library of content that can be searchable, customizable, and of course, accessible anytime, anywhere.
In addition, our platform would create its own economy that can support the work of content creators, coaches, counselors, etc. in a way that is more ethical, equitable, and sustainable for all.
2. Shared practices, content, and interaction
Instead of gathering at specific times and places for sermons, the platform can be used to link and share content in a variety of media (podcasts, articles, videos, etc.) that integrate easily into daily routines. Groups can also stay connected throughout the week through message boards, group chats, and even share spiritual practices online like lectio divina (meditative Scripture reading) or centering prayers.
3. Group matching
For those searching for community, the online platform can help people find spiritual friendships. People who are drawn to New Wine Collective’s ethos and values can access the online tool and create a profile. A questionnaire would collect user data, such as demographics, interests, cultural background, and spiritual preferences, etc. An algorithm will then be used to suggest matches with people who might live in the same geographic area and form a compatible group. It can unearth potential connections with people based on a variety of factors and users would be free to choose the group matches they are most interested in and self-organize into a group.
For example: A micro-community of young entrepreneurs or educators (who also happen to be foodies who enjoy outdoor activities) can focus on supporting one another and creating new ways to leverage their gifts and passions for the common good. Or, a neighborhood micro-community can gather to create intergenerational relationships among their neighbors. Even though micro-communities may be self-organized by affinity, they can still be very diverse. A community of artists can have 25-year-olds, as well as 55-year-olds, all from varying cultural backgrounds.
Our spirituality: new wine for new wineskins
New Wine Collective seeks to embody a fresh expression of Christianity that lowers doctrinal barriers and focuses on loving God and loving neighbors as ourselves. It would foster vulnerability, non-judgment, and a practice-based (as opposed to belief-based) spirituality that makes it accessible to anyone drawn to its values and willing to participate.
A few values and distinctives that help define this “new wine” Christianity:
Love, not legalism
The way we treat others is more important to God than being right or belonging to the right group; a love-based ethic that honors the image of God in all people
Curiosity, not certainty
Humility and embracing mystery are better than having all the answers; seeking wisdom and moving beyond binary (either/or) thinking
Empowerment, not hierarchy
Sharing and distributing power, fostering mutual relationships and servant leadership, releasing people to express the full range of their diverse gifts and passions
Compassion, not condemnation
Freedom from shame and blame, practicing vulnerability, solidarity, and non-judgment, treating one another’s humanity with tenderness and understanding
Inclusion, not exclusion
Imitating a Christ-like preference for those whom society marginalizes and casts aside; living into God’s upside-down reality where the first are last and the last are first, and where everyone belongs
In its early stages, a core community will maintain New Wine Collective’s theological center through a growing body of content and teaching which can provide cohesion and consistency for the movement. At the same time, New Wine is about creating an open platform where many voices can be heard (not just a select few in power). Instead of just being passive consumers, people will be empowered to be creators, connectors, and curators, taking part in shaping the movement themselves. Instead of being limited to one church or tradition, people will be free to explore and discover diverse expressions of spirituality that can meet them wherever they are on their journeys.
A ‘less is more’ approach
Less programming, more connection
Since there is no Sunday service or programmatic expression, it means no heavy demand for attendance and volunteer hours to maintain services and programs. In our already over-busy society, people can use more of their time where it matters most: investing in loving relationships and service to others. They will have more margin in their lives to slow down, be present, and be released as everyday missionaries where they already are, at work, school, their neighborhoods, or even in their own homes.
Less institution, more impact
Without costly institutions and inward-facing programs to maintain, people will be free to direct more of their time and resources towards addressing real-world problems. Groups have the ability to inspire people to do things they might not do themselves, like volunteer, engage in activism, and support charitable organizations. Some micro-communities may have the capacity for creative organizing around specific needs and issues. They can pool talents and resources, and create non-profits and generosity movements.
Less control, more flexibility & movement
The New Wine Collective model values empowerment and connection over hierarchy and control. Since there is no “bottle-neck” or top-down power structure to maintain, it can remain lean, organic, and diverse, allowing for innovation and grassroots movements to grow. Instead of being dependent on just a select few in permanent positions of power, the user community itself would be the power source, channeling energy, and shaping the movement as it grows.
Our spirituality, structure, and strategy
Help shape the future
Become a financial partner
You can take part in healing and renewing the world by supporting the creation of a radically new approach to church that makes spiritual community accessible to all. We are still in our first round of fundraising to develop and launch our online platform over an initial three year period. If you would like to learn more or discuss giving to our vision, please email us at email@example.com.
Join the conversation
We know we don’t have all the answers. That’s why we’ve created an online forum community for people who want to participate in reimagining church and spirituality from the ground up.
Our collective is a community gathered around a bold purpose: to tackle systemic problems within Christianity and to find new solutions together. Our hope is to convene a broad multidisciplinary conversation–a "hive mind"–that includes many perspectives and areas of expertise (science, technology, economics, business, art, theology, etc.). It’s for people from all walks of life who want to see innovative thinking result in action and a better way forward for all.
If you’re looking for a place where your voice can matter and where you can help create something the world needs, please email us for information about how to join our forum.
Help spread the word
Connect with us on social media and share about our work with others. If you know someone who might be excited about our vision, please consider making a personal introduction!
Spring 2020 – New Wine Collective founded
Fall 2020 – Public marketing and first-round fundraising
Spring 2021 – Proof of concept/pilot development
Fall 2021 – Online Platform Beta Launch
Spring 2022 – Online Platform 1.0 public launch
For more, explore other journal entries!
Our name & logo
Jesus said people do not pour new wine into old wineskins… they pour new wine into new wineskins. (Matt. 9:17)
New Wine represents the radically new spirituality Christ embodied that transcended and challenged the religious structures of his day. New wine requires new wineskins– new forms and practices that serve as containers for a new way of relating to God, to one another, and to the world.
A Collective is a group of people working toward a common goal or purpose that does not rely on internal established hierarchies. In a collective, leadership is flexible, shared, and collaborative.
Our logo represents our positioning as a movement occupying “in-between” spaces, on the threshold between the now and the not yet. We are situated as a bridge between spheres—on the inside edge of religion and spirituality, yet accessible and compatible with broader culture. We dwell in the margins of both, where we find common ground and new possibilities of change.
Overlapping circles resembling a Venn diagram represent inclusivity and connection. A secondary symbol is viewed from above as a wine glass without walls, signifying openness and freedom from constraints and unnecessary structures.