3 factors

When you think New York City what are the first thoughts that enter your mind? Take a moment to think about it… I’ll wait…

I bet you thought about bright lights, Broadway, public transportation, Times Square, the Empire State Building, crime, people (lots of people), food, and fashion. Did you think about diversity? Did you think about change? Did you think about small town feels? With over 22 million people living in the metro area, anything you think about probably fits the bill. The complexity and power of this city has been impacting culture around the world for hundreds of years. Imagine the reality and potential implications of church planting here given these three factors:

1. Diversity has long been a story of this great city. Currently 38% of its population is foreign born and over half of our Send NYC church plants operate in a primary language other than English. The diversity of our new churches reflects well the diversity of our complex city and we thank God for bringing us planters from around the world.

2. NYC is perpetually in a state of flux. The ebb and flow of people, industry, and lifestyle keep people on their toes. What’s in one month is out the next. Church plants are constantly adapting to the changes in the city and their context.

3. One of the biggest surprises about New York is its small-town feel. With 360 unique neighborhoods spanning the 5 boroughs of the city, many places have that charm of small town life. Business owners know the locals, parks are meeting places for friends and family, and a walk down the street elicits a warm hello to neighbors you see on a regular basis.  Of the 360 unique neighborhoods in NYC only about 90 have an SBC church in them.  There is a big gap between where evangelical churches currently exist and where we need church plants. Each neighborhood has a unique identity and church plants of every variety are needed to reach the vast diversity of life in NYC.

Send NYC church plants are working hard among these three factors to see a movement of God! While ministry results here are sometimes hard to quantify, individual life change is not. Church planters are seeing people come to know Christ and they are seeing life change happen. We rejoice in the Lord where we see people being baptized,  changing the way they live, and growing in an understanding of discipleship! While the work isn’t done and there is still a long way to go, God is at work in this city!

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A Quick Update

I try really hard to keep you guys updated on my ministry but some months are harder than others. This month has been particular hard. I generally struggle with this the most when ministry is really busy or I’m facing some sort of life crisis and this month has been a little bit of both so its been hard to think how to best update you.

So I’m going to give you a fast update with a list.

  • I had a great time a couple weeks ago with a team from APSU BCM in TN. I was so thankful to have them share in our ministry at NCC as well as other plants around the city. I love working with college students and their campus director is a personal friend of mine, so it was a lot of fun.
  • Life at New City is an absolute blast, relationships are continuing to build and life change is happening in many ways.
  • We have enjoyed the addition of the Hill family over the last few months, not only at our church but in our friendships as well. Shannon and I have become great friends and I love exploring the city with her and introducing her to some of my favorite places while trying new ones as well.
  • At the end of April I helped lead a training for missionaries serving through NAMB’s MSC program. This is the fundraising/partnership development process that NAMB missionaries go through and I’m excited to continue to help missionaries raise support for their ministries.
  • My sister and niece Molly came to visit last weekend and it was a fantastic time! Seeing NY through a kids eyes is hilarious and exhausting all at the same time. Molly went home and told her teacher she got her nails done at a salon in NYC. The teacher clarified with Misty that she in fact did. Molly had a blast and I loved every minute of it.
  • Last week I was in TN. I originally planned to be home for the weekend for my nephews high school graduation but made the trip a bit longer to see my friend and former intern, Sabrina Thompson, as she is dealing with some health stuff. It was good to be there with her and pray for her and her surgeon before she had surgery.
  • My nephews graduation was a lot of fun, its weird to think he no longer has to go to high school. We had a great celebration with family!
  • We are just weeks away from our GenSend students arriving as well as our New City interns. It will be a jammed packed summer of interns and ministry. I am really looking forward to it and have spent a good deal of the month prepping for GenSend team. I will be leading that group this summer but still interact with the New City team.
  • Lastly, Wednesday I leave for vacation. I look forward to a time of rest, relaxation and exploring another part of our globe and seeing another culture. I value vacation and time away and I am thankful for the sell of my condo last fall to make this trip possible!

A couple things you can be praying for! Pray for my friend Sabrina as she continues to deal with this unexpected health issue. Pray for my nephew as he embarks on adulthood and that he would let God lead him. Pray for my vacation that it will be a restful, refreshing time! And lastly pray for the summer mission teams and interns that will be serving across the city this summer!

Photo journal of a week

Ever wondered what the Number 1 question I am asked about my ministry, well here it is… “What does a typical week look like for you?”. So I want to answer this question this month for you with pictures because reading about it would probably be very boring.

Sunday

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Sunday’s are for New City. I arrive at church around 9:30 to help with setup. Once we get everything setup we welcome volunteers and then guests and regular attenders. I love greeting and helping our people connect with each other. We are normally done around 1pm and then head to lunch with friends. I generally spend the rest of my Sunday relaxing, because Sundays are busy days!

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A large part of my “job” at New City now is organizing, recruiting, scheduling and shepherding our volunteers. This has really helped create a “volunteer family” at our church plant and is helping us to create some emphasis around owning your faith and serving in it.

Monday

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Making its way onto Monday, is the most boring photo of my week. I spend a lot of my “office hours” from home, coffee shops, or the New City office. A good portion of my week I work on plans for events, volunteers, internships, mission teams, team members, emails, phone calls, etc. These “tasks” of ministry make things happen and while not glamorous are absolutely essential. (also essential: coffee)

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Monday nights I attend a Bible Study Fellowship group in Manhattan. While this is not my group, it looks a lot like this (minus those boys). BSF is an interdenominational Bible study group so I enjoy getting to know women from other areas of Christianity and from different cultural backgrounds. I also love the in-depth study of a book of the Bible. We are currently wrapping up a study on John.

Tuesday

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In between “tasks”, meetings, social events, etc I take Ellis to the park to hang out. We have met lots of new friends this way and are using these connections to have gospel conversations and invite people to church. This is Ellis and our friends Erin (human) and Macy (dog).

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Most Tuesday nights I play volleyball with a group of people in the school where our church meets, it’s a great opportunity to build relationships in our community and I get some good exercise. In the warmer months we play at the sand court in our park.

Wednesday

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Wednesday mornings I usually meet with the Send NYC team, which is Steve Canter pictured here and Sterling Edwards not pictured but sitting to the left of the girl standing in the photo. This was a meeting we had a few weeks back with a former IMB missionary to the deaf who is starting a deaf ministry at Sterlings replant church, Park Slope Community Church.

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I’m the only one that knew I was taking this picture so I hope these students don’t kill me for this. Another important ministry I am apart of through Send NYC is our GenSend internship. This summer I will help lead and coach a team of 16 college students that will be serving in three of our Brooklyn church plants. I love this part of my ministry.

Thursday

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Once a month I write an email newsletter update. Here is a sample of the first part! If you don’t get my newsletter, feel free to fill out the “About You” section of this blog and I will add you to the newsletter. I also write three other newsletters through out the month, one for our Send NYC partners, one for our Church Planting Team Members and one for our New City volunteers.

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On Thursday nights I met with Chelsi (pictured reading the Word) and Tara for a discipleship circle. We are reading 2 Corinthians together now. This is one of my favorite times of the week!

Friday

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These are our lady Church Planting Team Members serving across the city (there are some guy team members as well but I didn’t have a pretty picture of them). Twice a week I coach two our new team members and at various times throughout the week I am interacting with others or planning trainings/gatherings with them and having conversations with potential missionaries about serving in NYC.

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Sometimes I take time out of my ministry work to pick up a side babysitting job. I like to hang out with babies and I also like the extra spending money!

Saturday

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This is from last Saturday and represents brunch on Saturdays as well as our small group that meets on Wednesday nights. Brunch is a big deal in NY so when we need a small group fellowship time, we take on brunch.

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Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon is my sabbath (I like to sabbath with my Jewish friends). Ok not really but I believe that a Sabbath is important for all Christians and this is the time that works best for me. So I try to protect this time for fellowship, time alone with God, and rest. This is from last Saturday when I was beating Natalie at a dance game… well I was losing but I thought I would share this slightly embarrassing photo anyway!

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Maybe a better picture of Sabbath… hanging out in this awesome view!

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Lastly, Saturdays are for fun nights out with friends and trying different restaurants around the city. This was a Hawaiian place Jocelyn and I tried last week and that is a Brûlée Pineapple that was delicious.

Sometimes Ministry is… [Volume 2]

A couple years ago I wrote volume one of this post (although I didn’t call it volume 1), today I thought I’d give you guys an update on ministry through a list of things that ministry is, some of these are typical ministry tasks others are typical life things I use to be intentional in my ministry! Here goes:

Sometimes ministry is…

  1. Getting a dog: if you read my newsletter or follow me on social media, you know I got a dog a few months ago. Sir Ellis Hamilton is his formal name but we call him Ellis. Ellis has been a great addition to my life and ministry. He’s a great companion and on top of that a great ministry tool for meeting neighbors and hanging out at the park!
  2. Letting your 9 year old neighbor play with your dog: when I moved into my apartment I met D and A. D is a single mom raising 9 year old A right across the hall from me. One of our first conversation was late one night when she knocked on my door desperate for prayer. Over the last year and half we have interacted on several occasions and they have come to church a couple times. They were both super excited when I got Ellis and offered to help out. Once a week they take the dog out and A plays with him at my apartment for as long as she wants. Sometimes I’m there with her, sometimes I’m not but I use this as a great opportunity to invest in their lives.
  3. Coaching: Recently, we have started a formalized coaching ministry through Send NYC. We have trained church planting pastors and church planting team members to coach other missionaries serving in similar roles. I am coaching Michael and Shannon who recently joined the New City team as team members. Michael and Shannon are going to lead the way on our multiplication efforts in Queens. They have served most recently in college ministry but spent a couple years in a mega city in Asia. They are bringing great things to our team and church planting efforts in NYC.
  4. Preparing for the summer: Over the past several months, I have been working with NAMB and another local church planter, Ed Pacheco, to prepare for GenSend NYC this summer. I will be serving alongside Ed as GenSend coaches. We have been recruiting students from across the nation to serve through this 6 week internship with church plants. I’m excited to be a part of this internship as these students will help move the ball forward in church planting! I’m also excited to see how God will use this summer to help shape the lives of the students who will be with us.
  5. Mobilizing Missionaries: A great deal of my ministry with Send NYC is mobilizing and coaching new Church Planting Team Members. Being a part of other missionaries’ support teams is such a joy for me. I also serve on our Church Planting Assessment Team, leading a team of planters and leaders to assess new church planting pastors to serve through NAMB. Our assessment team leads three assessments a year meeting with potential planters assessing them on areas of leadership, communication, emotional and spiritual health and church planting readiness. They also meet with a  family dynamics counselor and experienced church planter and planters wives have a one on one interview with another planters wife. The retreat is a well rounded event that helps to identify God’s calling in a planters life and the planters readiness to step into this important role.
  6. Shepherding and leading others: Recently at New City I took on the task of leading our volunteers. I schedule them, train them and my prayer is that through our relationship they are growing in their relationship with Christ and in their areas of leadership. I love how God has equipped each of us to lead in different ways and I love helping our volunteers discover those gifts.
  7. Being kind and loving others: If I’m real honest most of my ministry to the lost around me and the people in our young church plant is finding ways to show them love and kindness. Most of the world around us isn’t used to strangers, even Christians, showing them kindness. So when I’m at a lost in what to do, I just show kindness. 

    While this list isn’t exhaustive, I hope it creates a picture for you of what ministry looks like in my life right now.

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.

 

Reflections on 2016

As I’ve talked to friends and read post online wrapping up 2016, it’s hard to believe the vast differences of opinion floating around about the success or failure of this past year. For some it was the worst year of their life for others it was the best. From the death of loved ones to new babies each year brings about joys and challenges. On top of personal issues, this year we have faced national challenges, seen international terrorism affect the lives of thousands and experienced the tragic loss of pop icons all of which bring more emotional response thanks to the social media era we live in. My opinion of 2016 was that it had some really sucky moments… I shed tears with friends as they lost loved ones, I prayed hard for our nation during one of the strangest election seasons, and ministry transitions and disappointments popped in and out of the year; but there were also some really fabulous moments… I shared laughter with old and new friends on two fabulous vacations, I explored areas of the world that God created differently from where I live, I got to see people’s lives transformed in Jesus’ name and I built new relationships that are turning into great friendships. At the beginning of 2016, I posted a blog called “Tips for the best 2016”. Below I have responded to the 8 tips with ways I lived each of these out in 2016!

  1. I’m going to be authentically me. The best example of this from 2016 was the 10 minutes I spent with a photojournalist who then took that 10 minute conversation and turned it into a post seen round the world as thousands of people read about my call to church planting and seeing people’s lives transformed for Christ. I was surprised how authentic I was in that conversation!
  2. I’m going to set goals…goals for each area of my life. Well I sat goals, and some of them I reached and some of them I didn’t reach… but I feel good with the success and failures, realizing they both lead to positive growth!
  3. I’m going to work hard. In early December I hosted two mission teams to pull off two coat distributions in the Ravenswood/Queensbridge area. This was the first year we had two groups and divided our distribution sites, as I finished that weekend I realized I had worked really hard and God had accomplished a lot through these efforts.
  4. I’m going to rest hard. The more I get to know myself and love myself the way God intended the easier it gets to rest in the Lord and enjoy His blessings. As strange as this sounds my trip to London was one of the most restful times of the year. My lifelong friend, Melody was teaching there and invited me over for a visit. It was so refreshing being with this friend, it was refreshing to stroll around another city, learn more about culture and see the beauty of a place I have never been.
  5. I’m going to love well. This year we have had several new church planting team members join church plants in NYC, there are two specifically that I feel like I loved well through their time of transition, helping them think through budgets, housing, questions/doubts, having tough conversations from time to time and being a friend for them to cry with things got hard. This has been one of my favorite parts of the year!
  6. I’m going to live optimistically. Early in the summer, I faced what I thought was a very difficult challenge in what is normally one of my favorite parts of ministry. Typically, I would have wallowed in it for weeks and let it strip me of the confidence I needed but this time, I faced the situation, had the difficult conversation and moved forward with the right attitude and it didn’t effect every area of my life for weeks.
  7. I’m going to think like Jesus. While leading my New City small group this year, I lived this out! I walked through Scriptures and topics with my group trying to speak not from me but from Him.
  8. I’m going to be grateful. This fall I had a local friend on my heart and mind to approach about joining my support team. This is always a hard ask because I know what I am doing is important but insecurities and doubt creep in pretty often and I’d never asked a local friend (i.e. a NYer) to join my team. Before I got the chance to ask she started sending donations and let me know she wanted to make that a regular thing. I was blown away by this and was so grateful that God was working on both of our hearts on this matter!

Praise the Lord for 2016! In hard times and good, God worked in mighty ways not only in my own life but in others as well! What are some blessings and struggles you saw God move you through this year?

10 things I forgot aren’t normal [a list]

When I moved to New York almost 4 years ago, I never imagined some of the experiences I would have and I certainly didn’t expect certain things about life here that seemed so strange at first would one day feel normal. When new friends move to the city, its so funny to watch them transition from wide-eyed NYC newbies to stone-cold NYC  masters. So walk with me through this picture journey of 10 things I forgot aren’t normal.

  1. The price of well let’s face it… everythingmake-money.pngWhen I go to a movie and they ask for $16 “I’m like here you go”.
  2. Every place I go almost all the time is super smallunnamed10This is a place I had lunch the other day, there were 7 people eating at the bar and 3 people eating at the one table. 
  3. There are people everywhere Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 2.46.27 PM.pngThis is how close I have to stand to strangers sometimes just to get where I need to go.
  4. Public TransportationScreen Shot 2016-11-28 at 2.53.06 PM.pngIts kind of my favorite though.
  5. Customer Service doesn’t really exist herescreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-39-04-pmIs this a good representation… the postal service.
  6. You can make a living doing just about anythingscreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-38-27-pm This street performer isn’t even preforming.
  7. Ordering everything online…like your groceries, your breakfast, or cleaning supplies8NiB52Hz.jpg Seamless…look it up. 
  8. Rooftop viewsIMG_5213.JPGNeed I say more.
  9. Going to the grocery store on foot, buying just enough for the week, and then wheeling it homescreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-38-50-pmOr wheeling your kid to the grocery store.
  10. Food of different colorsscreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-39-21-pmI ate this and it was delicious.                   
  11. Bonus for the holiday season: Christmas tree for sale everywhere…view.JPG

I’m sure there are others, can you think of things you experience in NYC that just seem out of place to you!?