I was wondering whether you could crystallize your experiences and reflections of what it is to be a Christian, a minister, and/ or a church in NYC: or what are the implications or challenges that the raw experience and facts of NYC issue to Christians. I know you love thinking in enumerated propositions, and that would be great!In the spirit of 'enumerated propositions', I offer three challenges to building a church in New York City. This is not about simply being a Christian in NYC, which I will write about in another post. And I will offer some positive things in coming posts. But here are three challenges:
- Cities are transient. One of the biggest challenges you face in Uber-Urban is that people are transient -- here for two years, then gone. So healthy community and functioning discipline are hard because people are coming and going. It takes a while to know someone and have them trust you. It reminds me of para-church student ministry (but without the value of being on campus for a balk of the day). I remarked in our staff meeting recently that our church is really a different church to what it was 3 years ago, simply because of the turnover of new people.
- Cities are busy. So many people work *very* hard, and so many want to go to church where the work is done for them. They get what they need quickly, and leave it at that. Now, that is not true of many people -- and I think that our church is pretty good with using gifts etc. But most people have very little 'margin' left in their life, and they feel it. And so do we. (It must be said that people here are often very generous with their money, which is really great.)
- Cities are full of options. So many options: educational options; social options; sporting options; cultural options. And also - there are many options for church here, which is great. Not all options for church are good with the Scriptures. But we've found that when people get scared that they will be 'known', and when people start having tough relationships in a church, and when we as pastors begin to work on godliness, they can just as easily go elsewhere. Why not go to a church where you can get a good sermon and good worship, and then be left alone? That, again, is not true of many. But it is a factor in city life.
If you promise not to laugh, I'll post it.
Pic on Flickr by Joannou.