No pews, no hymnals, no collection plate, the Caya Church of Newton is doing things its own way. Caya, which stands for Come As You Are, started in Pastor Sharon Isley’s basement after she felt the need to formalize a small group she had begun talking with.
The church started in 2010 with just a small group of 10 people meeting on Thursday nights. It is a branch of the Wesleyan denomination, a denomination in which Isley was ordained in 2001.
“I wanted it to be as much an early church like in the New Testament experience. Some of the things they did was get together in a person’s home as opposed to a temple and they would have a meal together, they would break bread together, and then they would discuss the sermon,” Isley said.
Through the years the group has grown in numbers and the basement was getting a little cramped. The group moved to a Sunday service in the summer of 2013 as well as to a new, more accommodating location.
Now meeting every Sunday at noon at 2713 N. Fourth Ave. E., the service starts out with a potluck-style meal that usually has a theme, with a discussion style service to follow.
“It is a lot more like a Sunday school class than it is a sermon. There are things that I am teaching but then it is like what do you think, how can you live this out, how do we apply it, what does it mean, why do we even care,” Isley said.
“We are very informal, most everybody comes in everyday attire. There is a lot of movement and activity, the kids are in the service with us instead of separating them out,” Isley said.
There is an activity table for the children as well as tablets to use, and if the children want, they can participate.
The space its in is rented and they have very little invested in physical items or location, she said.
“It is intentional, we want to use the resources we have to help other people,” Keith Isley, Isley’s husband said. A collection plate is not passed around but there is a giving basket at the back of the room.
“What we noticed, that once we made that a priority, giving expanded significantly because people realized that they weren’t just giving to meet the budget, they were giving funds that they new the congregation would give to people in need,” Keith Isley said.
The congregation discusses where the money will go and comes to a consensus with all decisions.
Since its inception, the church has been completely self-sustaining and only has one paid staff member, Sharon Isley. It is not enough for her to live full-time, but that is not a problem for Pastor Isley.
“I have a job working as a chemist at Keystone Labs so I don’t need them to pay me, in fact I told them they pay me too much. But I want our money to go towards ministry, not to me,” Isley said.
As far as expanding the church, the Isley’s are letting it grow organically. The style of church is known as “Missional Organic” and that is how they are letting it go. They have done a little advertising and some canvassing in town but the most effective method they found was word of mouth from friends and family. As they keep growing at a steady pace, the Isley’s see a bright future for the Caya Church.