Tuesday, July 25, 2006

NYC: Three Last Reasons why New York is a crucial investment

The Pic is Manhattan in 1782 -- before Sydney Town was settled by Europeans...

OK -- It’s been 3 weeks since I have posted.

A couple of reasons for this are:

  • My boss has been away, so I've been pastoring this church without the rector. (More work... )
  • Family takes precedence over a Blog. (More family...)
  • And I have wondered how to process these next three reasons. (More thinking...)

Here are, according to Redeemer, the next 3 reasons why New York is a crucial investment for evangelicals:

2. The pluralism factor
"Most analysts foresee an America in which the European/Anglo population becomes a smaller and less influential factor in the country, while Latinos and Asians and others become greater in numbers and power. History should teach us a lesson. America was a Protestant nation until 1880-1920, when a massive wave of immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe came, mainly through NYC. It was mainly Catholic and Jewish. WASPs in New York neither welcomed these newcomers nor sought to win them into new churches. Instead they fled the city. The newcomers eventually took power in the cultural institutions within the city. Now a third wave of immigration is coming, and NYC is again a focal point for it. Will evangelical Protestants fail the challenge again?"

3. The minority factor
"Though smaller, only LA can rival New York as a way for the Christian church to get control of America’s cultural and social future. But the Evangelical church in LA is far stronger than in New York City. While Los Angeles has several major evangelical seminaries, many organizations and institutions, and scores of mega-churches, New York City does not. Also the great majority of NYC evangelicalism is black and Hispanic. These vital churches are this largely cut off from the power and resources (financial, political, and educational) enjoyed by Anglo churches; New York Christianity is fragmented, immature and weak theologically, corporately and spiritually."

4. The spiritual revival factor
"For people who recognize the importance of sound theology for long-term viability and spiritual health, the surprising growth of Redeemer must be seen as a once in a life-time opportunity for spiritual harvesting in NYC. In less than 6 years it grew to roughly 1500 people, and it has the opportunity to grow far larger over the next 20 years. If it does, there is a possibility of planting 30 or 40 daughter churches (churches made up of Redeemer members/attendants) and 50-60 sponsored churches. That would create a permanent, widespread movement that could change the face of the city.

But Redeemer has already unearthed far more opportunities to plant new churches and ministries than it can meet. If it seeks to meet them alone, without help, it will weaken the development of our own leadership resources. That, in turn, could mean fewer new churches in the future. Therefore, we need partners."

--- Redeemer Church Planting Manual

A couple of initial thoughts:

All of this comes out of a paradigm that a lot of Sydney people may not feel the weight of. It comes from a view that God's people ought to engage with culture in a way that effects culture for the common good. The regular question asked is this: "How can followers of Christ be a counterculture for the common good?" It comes out of – amongst other places -- Jeremiah 29:7. It’s Augustine. It’s Bruce Winter’s Seek the welfare of the City. And the things you’ve just read, I believe, has been most immediately influences by James Montgomery Boice’s, Two Cities, Two Loves: Christian Responsibility in a Crumbling Culture.

I’ll be honest: I’m still trying to process the whole approach. I'm looking forward to understanding the position. And I'm in the right place to do that. I certainly do believe in 'seeking the welfare of the city' -- Christians are to be good citizens. Although I'm not sure if this means that our mission is changing the culture. I do get nervous with ideas like finding “a way for the Christian church to get control of America’s cultural and social future.” Hmmm.

I know that they are not, repeat not, advocating moral majority stuff.

Help me to understand...

Re Redeemer partners. Our Church was was initiated by Redeemer. We are proud to be a Redeemer affiliate. In many ways, we are the Redeemer vision. And, with partners, our dream is to be a church planting church here in Manhattan. There is a lot more to say about Redeemer’s place in New York. Redeemer’s leadership has a large vision. My prayer is that the leadership’s vision is shared more and more by its actual members and attendees. That’s surely the only way that 30-40 Churches can be planted!

What do you think?

Love, Justin.

Monday, July 24, 2006

NYC: Four Reasons why New York is a crucial investment [Monday]

I'm reading the Redeemer Presbyterian Church Planter's manual. It cites 5 facts about New York City, which I quoted last week. And then it cites 4 reasons NYC is such a crucial investment for the broader evangelical church.

So, you’ll be offered one reason a day this week. Ponder these and pray for us.

REASON 1. The Cultural Influence Factor

“There is a lot of bemoaning the fact that, while there are millions of born again Christians, they seem to be having no impact on the culture. The reasons given are usually complex and unconvincing. Nobody notices that evangelicals are totally non-urban. Homosexuals, while only 2% of the population, are nonetheless highly influential. Why? One answer is that they live predominantly in the largest urban areas, where they work in places that control social discourse. But evangelicals, who are 15-20% or more of the population, have fled the cities. This is a recipe for complete cultural irrelevance.”

An interesting possibility. To explore more: Read this article from Christianity Today.

I always believed that NYC is an important city in the world. But I hadn’t thought about the idea that Christians moving to the suburbs might possibly impact the influence of the gospel. [I'm wondering if it as true for Australia as it is for the US?] Still, it makes me think again that for a Christian, the only factor in choosing where to live ought not to be simply ‘where I’d like to live’. I reflected on that tension on a previous post HERE.

By the way, have I ever said ‘church shopping’ are two words that should never be placed together? Click here for a video of "Maybe we should try the new Mega church".

Disturbingly funny.

Love, Justin.

Friday, July 21, 2006

NYC: Five Facts, Five Reasons (Friday)

FACT 5. The Spiritual Need of NYC
“With the exception of Boston, NYC is perhaps the least protestant in the country. Of its 7.5 million people, just 1 to 1.5 million identify themselves as protestant, and a mid-80s survey of New Yorkers indicates that no more than 500,000 people (roughly 7% of the city) are actual Protestant churchgoers. The great majority of these are African-American. The leading Protestant Church of the city is generally considered the Episcopal church, yet it now has a combined Sunday attendance of fewer than 25,000 people, out of a city of 7.5 million (0.3%). No wonder, to the average Manhattanite, Protestant religion is invisible!”

re Anglican: 25,000 people in this huge city? 0.3%? Laurel and I are here in Manhattan, working with Christ Church NYC because we do not just perceive the need. We know it.

Next week: From my 'Church Planting in NYC' manual: 5 Reasons why NYC is such a crucial investment for the broader evangelical and orthodox Church…And the week after that, I’ll begin telling you a bit about our church and its vision and mission and our experience of both.

Love, Justin.

PS The pic of the First REC Church, where our church meets in the evenings.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

NYC: Five Facts, Five Reasons (Thursday)

FACT 4. Influence of NYC:
“It competes with Los Angeles as media capital, with Paris as fashion and art capital, with London as theater and literature capital, with Tokyo as financial and corporate capital, and with Washington DC as power capital. It is second only to Boston in number of College students. But no other city excels in all of these areas. (The Pope once greeted Cardinal O’Conner as “The Archbishop of the capital of the world”!) It is certainly the communications center of the globe. Millions of the next wave of US immigration -- Latino and Asian -- are coming to New York for a generation before assimilating out into mainstream society, as did their predecessors, the Jews and Italian. In summary, New York is the single most formative influence on US culture and society.”

When I read something like this, I always think of the Apostle Paul, and how he was eager to preach in Rome.

If you have been to NYC, take a go at describing it briefly in the comments!

Love, Justin.

PS Photo by a good friend at my church. And, in the spirit of Bryon (see HERE and HERE), can you pick the building? Pick it, then descibe your experience on the city.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

NYC: Five Facts, Five Reasons (Wednesday)

FACT 3. Diversity of NYC
New York City is really an interlocking network of major cites. In it lies a Dominican City of 500,000 in Upper Manhattan, a West Indian City of 800,000 in Brooklyn, a Haitian city of 200,000, a Columbian city of 200,000 in Queens, two Chinatowns of over 100,000 each in lower Manhattan and Flushing, and centers of 80,000 Greeks in Astoria, 50,000 Russians in Brighton Beach, 40,000 Hindus in Eastern Queens, 150,000 Arabs and Middle Easterners in northern Brooklyn. While some US cities are filled with Hispanics (LA, Houston), others West Indians (Miami) and others Asian (SF, LA), New York is home to masses of each. It is more diverse than any other US City.

David Miles, an old friend and mentor, used to call Byron Bay (in NSW, Australia), a ‘global corridor’. New York City is a global superhighway. Imagine where the gospel could travel.

Love, Justin.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

NYC: Five Facts, Five Reasons (Tuesday)

5 facts about New York City. And then 5 reasons NYC is such a crucial investment for the broader evangelical church.

FACT 2. Density of NYC:
“A comparison: While newer cities (Atlanta, Dallas, Denver) have 3,000-6,000 residents per square mile, and older (Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago) have 12,000-13,000 per square mile, Manhattan has 60000 residents per square mile (1.5 million people), and it is estimated that this number quadruples to over 200,000 (7 million people) on weekdays thorough commuters. Midtown Manhattan is the most densely populated place on earth during a typical workday."

For the record: We live on Manhattan. 7 million people? (Which I believe is a conservative estimate-- Take a look HERE.) Can you imagine the infrastructural headache that this can be??

Love, Justin.

PS Pic is me walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with Kiddoes. (Taken by James Woodhams from St Ives. Good man.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

NYC: Five Facts, Five Reasons (Monday)

I'm reading a Church Planter's manual for New York City. It cites 5 facts about New York City. And then it cites 5 reasons NYC is such a crucial investment for the broader evangelical church. So, my Blog is covered for 2 weeks.

You’ll be fed one fact a day this week. And one reason each day next week.

Ponder these. Compare them to your own city. Pray for us.

FACT 1. Size of NYC:
“19 Million People (SMSA) and 7.5 million within the city limits. New York City will be the only US city to remain one of the world’s ten largest by mid-21st century. It is currently the third largest city in the world, behind Mexico City and Tokyo. (But, as we will see tomorrow that measures sprawl rather than density). You could comfortably fit into NYC’s metro area all of metro Atlanta, Washington DC, Miami, Orlando, Nashville, Richmond, New Orleans, and still have plenty of room left over.”

The continent of Australia has about the same population as New York City!

Tomorrow: Density.

Love, Justin.

PS You get a family pic a day for interest.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Photographers of the world: Help me.

Heavy post, that last one. Lots of comments. Thanks for letting me fly a kite.

OK. Photography. I'm no good at it. I'm the guy who thinks its 'creative' to simply tilt the camera when taking a portrait. But that is as creative as I get.

But all you budding, amateur and even professional photographers: What would I need to do to make these photos better?

Love, Justin.

PS If you click on the picture, you get a full pic.