Until 2007, the history of NCS New Canaan is the history of the New Canaan Society, because until 2007 we were NCS. As the “founding chapter” of NCS, we began in 1995 as a gathering of men in the family room of Jim’s house. It grew organically from 8 to 10 to about 50 to 60 by 2000. As it grew, we began inviting outside speakers to share life with us. The speakers were impressive, occasionally well-known figures in the business, political and academic landscape, but the message remained consistent – “This is what I want to share with you from my own life.”
In the next few years, the group hit 150 or more. It was so large that we had to move out of Jim’s house to find a bigger space. By that time, visitors to our fellowship were already starting groups in other locations. Since then we have moved again into bigger facilities, but we have been careful not to lose the feeling of intimacy and sharing that got us going. We took some dead-end turns and had to retreat, but we always kept the goal of real community as the guiding principle. By 2007, it had become clear that NCS was more than a local Connecticut phenomenon. Informal “chapters” had been springing up across the United States.
In the summer of that year, Jim asked the leaders of these chapters as well as trusted friends of NCS to gather in Texas for a prayer and brainstorming session about whether God meant NCS to be a national ministry and, if so, what its next steps should be. The clear messages from that first NCS “leadership summit” were that NCS was already a National ministry and that Jim needed to create the margin in his life to focus his attention on the National aspects of the ministry. Implicit in creating that margin was the need to segregate the local activities in New Canaan from the National NCS activities and bring in new leadership.
Beginning with our first meetings in September 2007, the activities NCS in New Canaan became the “founding chapter” NCS New Canaan under a new core leadership group. In order to recapture the intimacy of the early days in Jim’s house, we have encouraged the growth of new chapters in neighboring communities. This began with NCS Fairfield (The Journey), followed by NCS Norwalk, NCS New Haven, NCS Hartford, NCS Trumbull and even NCS Manhattan. Each of these chapters was started by men who used to travel to New Canaan and now provide a much easier “commute” for former NCS New Canaan members. This “expansion” has allow us to contract to a size that restores the intimacy and connectivity experienced at the beginning. As a result, NCS New Canaan continues to evolve from the “flagship” to another battleship in the fleet, but we will always proudly be known as the chapter where it all began.