a word on discipleship.

“I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may provide what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

These two verses may have been the second verses I ever memorized (almost universally I think we all learn John 3:16 first). I meditated on these verses a lot as a kid and as a teen and to be honest they probably keep me out of a lot of trouble… I mean not all the trouble, but a lot of it anyway. I reference them often and most recently have used them to form a heart and intentionality of discipleship.

Discipleship has always been one of my greatest joys and probably most used gifts, from leading 2nd graders to grow in Christ through missions education to hard conversations with college students about their relationship with the Lord, this is an area I feel God has used many times in my ministry. Over the last few years, its been put on the back-burner a bit as growing a church has a lot to do with ministry formation and evangelism. There have been times my soul has ached for it and there have been small moments of it here and there but not to the level I desired.

Recently, though I have entered into a discipleship relationship with 2 ladies from our church plant and I’ve seen this love for discipleship renewed! I’m seeing our lives transformed by our studying of the word and I’m seeing our minds renewed by intentional, vulnerable conversation. This discipling is about growing in our relationship with Christ and calling us out of our places of darkness and calling us into abundant life. I’ve seen the other girls grow in their relationship and understanding of the gospel over the last month and I’ve seen my desire to serve others and love the Lord deepen.

We meet together on Tuesday nights for dinner and conversation after having spent the week before reading through the same passage of Scripture and memorizing a verse from each set of passages. Our conversation just flows from fellowship to bible study! But its not through this fellowship, accountability, or bible study that our lives are transformed it’s through the saving grace of Christ and through our intentional desire to see the Word lived out in our lives! Pray with me for my Discipleship group. Pray for Tara and Chelsi who I meet with and pray for others in our church who are seeing life transformation through their intentional Discipleship groups.

 

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Let me paint you a picture

In my quest to share with you what our ministry and church planting are like I’d like to paint you a picture of our New City Church Sunday morning gatherings. One of the great things about church planting is the fresh start your church plant can make in terms of corporate gatherings.

As New City started we explored a lot of options for our corporate gathering-would it be on Sunday morning, Sunday night or how about something on Saturday? We explored different setups, locations, styles and thought through how each of these would fit into our neighborhood. We considering the giftings of our core team and how each of us would play a part in our gatherings. What we landed with was a perfect picture of what we understood to be the best gathering for our church and neighborhood. Over the two years or so of weekly gatherings, we have seen that picture change and grow as our church has changed and grown.

The biggest change to our gatherings came as we moved into the Hunters Point Campus. Having a more permanent, larger space gave us some new freedoms. So what church looks like today is different than April 2014 and in reality will be different from what church looks like in September of 2018. But here is a look at what September 2016 New City Church Sunday Gathering looks like.

8:30 am Our Korean Church fellowship core team arrives at Hunter’s Point Commons garage and unloads 4 crates and wheels them across the street to the schools entrance. They deliver one crate to the 3rd floor auditorium, 2 crates to the 5th floor cafeteria where our children meet, and then take the last one to the smaller 5th floor cafeteria where they host their service.

8:45 am New City staff team arrives. We start in the 5th floor cafeteria moving tables out to clear room for our children’s area. Around 9 am most of our team heads to the auditorium. There we set up pipe and drape in three different locations, sectioning off the large space and creating a greeting area in the hallway. We are usually joined by our worship team a little after 9 to help set up sound stuff (I have no technical knowledge of even how to say this part correctly). I’m normally in the hall setting up our hospitality area with information about our church, coffee/pastries, and signs directing newcomers where to go.

9:30-9:45 am We are finished with most set up and our worship band practices and prepares for the morning while the rest of us finish up any loose ends.

10:00 am Children’s set up is usually complete and our volunteers begin to arrive to serve in one of our two classes. Our greeters arrive between 10:15-10:30. We all slap on some name tags and get excited to share in our Sunday conversations with our church family.

10:30 am Visitors and church members begin to arrive. In the 3rd floor auditorium lobby we have a greeting area set up with two greeters and space to hang out and fellowship. Children are taken to the 5th floor to start their lesson and worship time. Our downstairs greeters are happily smiling as they point people in the right directions.

10:50 am We open the doors to the auditorium for people to began finding their seats. Just like every church we all tend to sit in the same places each week… usually in the lower right side of the seating right where the entrance is…I laugh when I come in and see the whole left upper side empty.

11:05 am We start our service with a few worship songs. This is followed by prayer, announcements, and more music throughout the morning. About 20 minutes in we always have an extended time of greeting and getting to know each other and then do a prayer and offering. Patrick then teaches/preaches to our church body for the next 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile upstairs our kids and babies are learning and being loved on by awesome volunteers and our Korean fellowship is worshipping together.

12:05 pm As we wrap up our service we spend more time talking with our church family and greeting new visitors. We encourage each new visitor to fill out a form on an iPad so we can add them to our email list and send them more information about our church.

12:15 pm Begins our tear down time, taking down the pipe and drape and placing the sound equipment back in the closet, packing up information and signs to take back over to storage for the week.

1:00-1:30 pm We are usually done by then and headed to lunch! One cool new thing we added this month is that once monthly our staff members will not be responsible for tear down but will instead take a new visitor/attender out to lunch. This will give our team a little more time to really get to know new people in our church!

The one with the interns.

Last week I promised to tell you guys about my favorite part of my summer: interns. For our third summer in a row New City Church hosted a team of interns that assisted our church plant in a variety of areas of leadership. This summer was a unique experience as our interns served in ways that previous interns weren’t able to do. As our church has fully launched this year and in a space where we are actively growing, the ministries of our interns looked a bit different. In the summer of 2014 or 2015, our church was meeting as a core group on Sunday morning’s in Patrick’s apartment or in the community room. Church looked quiet a bit different back then. This summer our interns served on Sunday morning ministry teams that didn’t even exist back then!

So what did our interns do for us? Well first and foremost they took steps in building God’s kingdom that we as a small team could never have taken without them. They introduced us to ministry areas, people, and ideas that we might not have ever seen had they not spent 8 weeks with us! Secondly, their tasks each week was to–

1. research, observe, and strategically plan for a new church in a specific neighborhood in Manhattan. We paired the six of them up and sent them into Murray Hill, StuyTown, and FiDi and had them spend many hours there talking to locals, leading teams to do surveys, and making observational reports. This information was then compiled and will be used to help us identify the right church planter and team to come into those neighborhoods to start new works.

2. lead our 4 weeks of mission teams. As we had mission teams and church partners come serve alongside of us, our team of interns spent each moment with them cleaning alongside them, praying alongside them, playing alongside them, etc. They were fully engaged in our community projects, often time being that familiar face for our local partners and neighbors to connect with.

3. lead out on a Sunday morning service team. Again placed in pairs they served in areas of worship, children’s ministry, and hospitality ministry. They greeted visitors, scheduled volunteers, taught Bible stories, and lead our church in worship. Sunday’s were fuller and lighter because of their presence! On top of all of this, they were a great encouragement to our church body and our staff team! They truly made this summer a pleasure and I am forever grateful they chose to spend their summer with us!

It truly has been a joy to continually invest in our internship program to see how each unique group of students has grown our ministries and increased our effectiveness as a church. One of the reasons interns are so important to me is because of how God shaped me and my calling through these very experiences as a young adult. From my junior year in high school until the summer after I graduated college, I spent my summers exploring missions and ministry and I realize now the impact that had on me as God molded and shaped me into the person I am today. Serving and leading the 14 different individuals who have served New City Church has been a blessing and continually teaches me so much about leading people and teams.

So until next time, I leave you with these images of a team of people who rocked NYC this summer!

Click to see captions and I stole this title from Christina who stole her title from Friends.

 

 

Farewell Summer

As August marches in and our interns leave, it’s a clear indication that summer is over. The days of excitedly pulling weeds in the park or anxiously having conversation with strangers over surveys have come to an end and we must say farewell.

Summer is alway a thrilling time in NYC! We have mission teams, interns, and projects that keep us on our toes and help us meet our neighbors and learn more about NYC. Each summer holds different surprises and challenges and this summer was no different.

Over 4 weeks we hosted approximately 120 people from 11 different churches. That’s a 120 unique individuals having conversations and interactions with New Yorkers! Teams did surveys and narrative mapping research in three Manhattan neighbors and along with our interns taught us so much about these communities that will enable us to plant churches there in the future. Teams loved on Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Queensbridge and Jackson Heights through community service activities like weeding, street cleaning, subway cleaning, and park outreaches. Each team prayed for Long Island City through a prayer walk and teams serving during our Serve 7 week prayer walked three other neighborhoods in Queens.

For the first time, we were able to host our annual summer Bible Club here in LIC at the school where we meet. This was a great opportunity for us to connect with our neighborhood and we had over 30 kids participate.

Teams loved on and encouraged New City through being in worship on Sundays and serving through children’s ministry and set up and tear down. The encouragement our church planting team feels through partners spending time with us in the city is one of the many vital ways they serve the Lord. It’s a blessing to know that people pray with us, care for us, and want to see God move in our efforts!  So as I say farewell to summer, know that summer was a blessing!!

Tune in next week when I share about my favorite part of the summer: Interns!

Enjoy these wonderful photos that captured our summer (if you scroll on them you can read the captions or click on them and they get bigger!)

A Virtual Kind of Post

One of my favorite things about working with mission partners are our weekly prayer walks around LIC. It means so much to me to know that people have for years been praying for our community, our church, and even us. The power of prayer is one of the most significant blessings we have as believers. This week we have 4 partner churches serving with us in what we called Serve 7 week. This week they will pray for and serve 4 neighborhoods along the 7 train line, loving on these neighborhoods and praying that God would launch new works in these areas soon. As part of their projects, they are praying the below prayer points over Jackson Heights, Woodside, Queensbridge, and Sunnyside. These requests are both personal and generic…they are a combination of things we have prayed over LIC for many years as well as general requests related to church planting. Each group stops at a school, church, and a park-three places that represent important parts of church planting and NYC culture.

I’d like to invite you to go on a virtual prayer walk. I’ve chosen here two neighborhoods for you to focus on, one is Sunnyside, Queens where we are serving this week and one is Kips Bay, Manhattan which is a neighborhood our interns have spent a lot of time in this summer. Both are areas New City Church and the Send NYC team would like to see new churches started. Pray for these neighborhoods and then feel free to use this as a guide to pray for other great NYC neighborhoods (or I guess you could pray for other cities/towns but I’m a little partial).  I’ve listed one school, church, and park in each of these neighborhoods and the cross streets for you. You can use google maps to look up these locations and/or explore around the area! Ok, enough talking about! Pray away!

Stop 1: School

Kips Bay (The River School PS 281 Manhattan)
Sunnyside (Aviation High School 36th St and Queens Blvd Queens)

  • Finding meeting space for a new church is often challenging. This challenge is intensified in NYC because of the limits put on public spaces and because of high prices. Please pray for new church plants in this area to find the right space, at the right time, at the right price.
  • Our heart is to partner and plant with churches all along the 7 train line. The 7 train stretches from Western Manhattan to Flushing, Queens. Pray for church planting opportunities to the 5 million+ people that live along this train line.
  • New churches need relationships with community and civic organizations to love on a neighborhood. Pray for natural connections to neighborhood schools, police, and civic organizations.

Stop 2: Park

Kips Bay (Bellevue South Park East 26th St & Mt Carmel Pl Manhattan) 
Sunnyside (Lance Corporal Thomas P Noonan Playground 47th Ave & Greenpoint Ave Queens)

  • Church plants in NYC have to spend time in the marketplaces and social spaces of a neighborhood. This is key to building relationships with people who need Christ. Pray for conversations to happen in parks that will lead people to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • Church planting is about connecting lost people to Christ. A Person of Peace is simply someone that God has prepared ahead of time to hear the message of the gospel. A person of peace is an entry into a community. As they accept the Gospel they open the door for other people in the community to hear the gospel. Pray for a person of peace for this neighborhood.
  • Successful church planting always addresses the community’s spiritual, physical and emotional needs. Pray for church planters in this community to gain awareness of community needs.
  • The gospel is central to church planting and seeing people come to know Christ as their personal Savior is key! Please pray for the lost in this neighborhood to come to know the Lord.

Stop 3: Church

Kips Bay (Marble Collegiate Church 29th St and 5th Ave Manhattan)
Sunnyside (Sunnyside Reformed Church 48th St and Skillman Ave Queens)

  • This church represents the promise of God that He will draw people into relationship with Him. This is happening across the world through church planting. Pray for the church planting movement in NYC to be successful and for churches to be a place of love, acceptance, and healing.
  • Pray God will call out church planting pastors and church planting team members to serve in this neighborhood. Pray for spiritually and emotionally healthy leaders. Pray God will provide for them financially in a way that enables them to live successfully in NYC.
  • New Yorkers are in need of friends and real relationships. The city can often be a lonely place. Pray for the people that live in this area that don’t know Christ that they would have a divine intersection with a new church and the gospel.

The most exciting thing in my life right now.

It’s mid June already and I cannot believe it. This summer is off to a great start and that is in large part to the work of a very special group of people. I love working with young people, in particular college students. College students are loads of fun, have lots of energy, are willing to take major risks, and most importantly are at a pivotal exploration stage of life. These are some of the reasons, I love college students. Each summer New City  hosts a group of summer interns to help us advance our ministry.

This summer we have a great group of students and they are busy about the work God has called them to. Through their first couple weeks in the city they have already began to build relationships with people in our church and those they have met in the community and even other areas of the city. Their tasks throughout the summer center around mission teams and church planting research.

Throughout the summer, our six students will be spending a significant amount of time in three strategic neighborhoods in Manhattan, researching and having conversations with people in the hopes of creating a significant degree of information for a future church plant. Each of our interns are also serving on Sunday morning teams helping to lead worship, children’s ministry and hospitality ministry. Their last major responsibility for this summer is to serve alongside our mission teams. They will lead projects and encourage our teams as they spend time in our neighborhood!

Please join me in praying for our interns. Drew Jenkins from TN, Chelsee Bibb from NC, Mallory McClearn, Jordan Branch, Christina Charles, and Adam Norman all from GA. They are having a blast and I know God will use them in great ways!

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If you’d like to send them a note of encouragement this summer, I’m sure they’d love that. You can send mail to them at 1-50 50th Ave #1227 LIC, NY 11101. Address the envelop to me and them and I will get it to them!

Its about time!

It’s with much joy and anticipation that I relaunch my blog. I mentioned a few weeks back, or maybe even months back at this point that I was working on a new plan for my blog. After much thinking, praying, and processing I’ve come up with a new plan for sharing about my life and ministry.

The first three years of my blog were full of updates and highlights of my ministry. Much of this time was spent sharing about the day-to-day as well as new things going on. As you can imagine after you’ve written about those topics for 3 years it gets a little redundant, so towards the end of last year I started thinking about changing things up a bit! My hope and plan is to convey to my readers what God is doing through church planting in NYC as well as my life personally.

So here is what you can expect moving forward! 4 blogs each month touching on one of these topics!

Church Planting. These posts will include articles, tips and resources for church planters, church planting team members and church planting partners. I will share ideas on encouragement, support, and ways that you can be involved in church planting. This will probably be the hardest for me to write, as I’m really no expert, but I will be using experiences I’ve had, things I’ve learned from others and resources I find. So bare with me, I hope it will be encouraging and uplifting.

New City Church. These posts will tell stories about things going on at New City! This will include things like what our mission teams are doing, how interns are serving our church and lots of information about our ongoing ministries! You will hopefully see how God is at work through NCC.

People Stories. These posts will be stories of people in my life and ministry! It will even include videos of some of our church members sharing with you how God is transforming their lives. It will be exciting stuff!

New York Experiences. These will be fun posts on things I like to do, experiences I have had and will hopefully share with you what life is like in NYC. I love exposing people to my great city. I hope to paint a picture that will make people want to come visit, pray more, and be more involved in the work of God in NYC.

That’s a glimpse of what my blog will look like starting now!! Please let me know if you have ideas for new posts. I’ve made a list of what I want to share from here to the end of the year but if you have a fun idea, I might change those up a bit to include things you, my readers, find interesting.

Thanks for your continued love, support and prayers for my ministry here. God has done and will continue to do great things in this great city and I look forward to being a part of it for as long as He will have me.

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