Assistant Managing Editor
LONGMEADOW This reporter falls between that murky line of Generation X and Y; you know, the ones heavily responsible for the success of the Internet, text messaging and iTunes.
With the steady closing and merging of churches throughout the region, I wonder if the "I want it now" generation should be thanked for that as well. This is why the opening of New Day Church in Longmeadow is such an interesting prospect to me. Their target audience is this same group who seems to opt for convenience over anything else.
How do you get the twentysomethings to early 40s group to church? It would seem like Michael Sorcinelli has chosen to devote his time and money toward a risky investment, but 20 years from now, if he has his way, we may be crediting him with bringing a needed innovative way to worship to the area.
At 27, Sorcinelli and his 25-year-old wife Kristin are throwing their all behind their mission to spread the word of Jesus. They left the comfort of their life in Maryland to come back to Massachusetts, Sorcinelli's old stomping grounds, to establish New Day. The West Springfield native said he was making a great salary in western Maryland. After he graduated from West Springfield High School in the late '90s, he went off to Valley Forge Christian College in Pennsylvania where he met Kristin. The two then moved to Cumberland, Md., to serve as youth pastors.
"Everything here is twice as expensive and half as big," Sorcinelli said.
He took a $12,000 pay cut to relocate to New England which he said has the second highest concentration of unchurched people in United States (California is number one) and one of the lowest church-to-people ratios in the entire United States (only one church for every 64,368 people).
Sorcinelli wants to reach today's people in a practical and simple way. His ultimate goal is to lead people to be mature followers of Christ. The congregation's meeting place is the Community House in Longmeadow and the atmosphere and dress code are relaxed and unpretentious. His close friends and family members, known playfully as "the Team," help operate the church by each taking on various roles in unlimited capacities.
"There's a lot of churches out there that were built and designed and structured with [a particular type of ] people in mind when they were built. We are trying to design and structure our church. We are 100 percent supportive of everybody who has a structured, very formal [church tradition], we respect that 100 percent. We're just trying to appeal to other people with a non-traditional format," Sorcinelli said.
He explained that there are several elements he has outlined to appeal to those who may not normally attend a structured worship service. "There's several main facets. One would be the type of facility that we meet in. We don't meet in a church building. We meet in something that is community friendly. I think sometimes people are not interested in going to church just because of the facility. They can be very uncomfortable," he said.
He hopes that the Community House is a little less threatening. The second thing New Day gears toward their target audience is a casual environment.
"You will not see someone in a suit and tie. We welcome anyone to come dressed anyway they are. A lot of churches say come as you are but then there is an unspoken dress code," Sorcinelli said, adding that he's preached in jeans and sandals.
New Day Church has branched out to the Internet as well, designing a user-friendly site that also includes a blog from Sorcinelli complete with scripture, lessons and inspirational quotes.
"Our goal is not to take people from other churches. We want to get those people who are not attending church and kind of open them up to a new model of doing church and exploring our Christianity of what it means to follow Jesus. A lot of people in our church have never read the Bible," he shared.
Sorcinelli still feels getting together to talk and worship is an important aspect. Another enticing factor about New Day is that they meet for an hour at unconventional times which may be easier for those on a hectic schedule.
"The Bible makes reference to us as sheep. Sheep belong to a flock, which is lead by a shepard. Children belong to family, led by a parent. Followers of Jesus, they are part of the body of Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that a Christian clearly needs other Christians," he said.
According to www.churchsolutionsmag.com, Generation X is deeply committed to connecting with God, but on their terms. In an article titled "The Gen X Church," J. David Shanks wrote, "In this church, there is an accepted eclecticism of old and new traditions of worship expression. The sanctuary (the 'new' term for worship center) is a blend of traditional visual forms and elements with practical communications technology and imagery enhancement ... By contrast, Gen X always having lived in the shadows of the most famous generation will have more thoroughly reflected the true light of Jesus Christ through their authenticity, perseverance and conviction than any generation before them. Not bad for a bunch of slackers."
The next New Day service will be hosted at the Community House on Longmeadow Street on June 27 from 7 to 8 p.m. To read about New Day's first project, collecting contributions for those in Myanmar, visit www.thereminder.com. To learn more about New Day Church visit www.newdaychurch.com.
|New Day raises funds for natural disaster victims|