This past Sunday, the weather report for New York City was 1° with a wind chill of -19°. The mayor was urging people to stay home and church members were calling to ask if we were canceling.
But church planters don’t cancel worship gatherings.
I’ve experienced Sundays when my wife and kids outnumbered everyone else. Even if only a handful of people could come we planned on proceeding with our service. We aren’t about to let a little frostbite stop us!
The good news is more people came than we expected. And due to a last minute idea, we ended up streaming our service online for free and several members were able to jump online and watch.
All I had to do was put my mobile phone on a tripod, make sure I had a strong wifi signal, open the Facebook app and start broadcasting live. It really was that easy and within seconds we noticed that not only were our absent members online and engaging with us virtually, but their friends and people around the world began tuning in as well.
In the Book of Acts, planting churches in unreached areas was the natural application of the Great Commission.
In fact, the logical implication of the Great Commission is that it would be done in the context of the local church wherever it exists and that it would lead to establishing local churches where they don’t exist. Baptism isn’t something that is done isolated from Body life. It is the initiatory rite of a new disciple into the church. Naturally, if a church doesn’t exist and we are pursuing the disciple-making mission, a church needs to be established or we aren’t being faithful to Jesus’ commands. The New Testament knows nothing of a lone ranger evangelist who saves souls and moves on. The church is where disciples are baptized and taught.
This was the approach the apostles took when they were empowered by the Spirit. They established a church in Jerusalem. Then, when the persecution arose against them and many were forced out of Jerusalem, they began making disciples and establishing churches everywhere they went in Judea and in Samaria. Soon, churches were established as far out as Antioch which was a Gentile city. They were fulfilling Jesus’ mandate to be witnesses and to make disciples.
This is a guest post by Patrick Hubbard. Patrick is the Founder and President of Living Bread Ministries. The vision of LBM is to expand an interdependent church planting movement among the global poor. In this post, Patrick explains how their vision of planting churches in impoverished areas is an important step towards ending slavery.
The trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation and forced labor is possibly the greatest humanitarian tragedy the world has known.
The United Nations estimates that there are over 2.5 million people in forced labor, including the sex industry, at any given time. This horrific practice affects 161 countries, essentially every nation in the world. Women are primarily the victims of trafficking averaging two out of every three people. The average age is between 18 and 24, but it is estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.*
Often victims of trafficking are tricked into captivity with promises of job opportunities. However, they are often sold into slavery to pay family debts or provide money to care for other children. There are even cases where the poor voluntarily give their children to traffickers believing they have found a family to “adopt” them and provide a better life. Regardless of how it happens it is clear that one of the leading contributing factors to human trafficking is poverty.
Queens County is recognized by many demographers as the most diverse county in America. As a result, there are hundreds of languages, peoples, and religious groups represented.
The following list of the top 20 religious groups in Queens reflects the diversity of Queens County (according to the 2010 ARDA report).
Top 20 Religious Groups in Queens, NY
- Catholic – 677,520
- Muslim – 81,456
- Orthodox Judaism – 80,000
- Non-denominational – 33,325
- African Methodist Episcopal Church – 28,085
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America – 24,250
- Traditional Hindu – 16,775
- Assemblies of God – 13,989
- Seventh Day Adventist – 13,507
- Buddhism, Mahayana – 12,957
- American Baptist Churches in the USA – 12,003
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – 10,463
- Episcopal Church – 9,241
- National Baptist Convention, USA – 7,261
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – 7,210
- The United Methodist Church – 6,932
- Conservative Judaism – 6,235
- Presbyterian Church (USA) – 5,092
- Southern Baptist Convention – 4,694
- The Christian and Missionary Alliance – 3,585
- The top 20 religious groups account for 47% of the population in Queens or 1,054,580 adherents.
- Only 5 of the top 20 religious groups are evangelical protestant.
- Evangelicals account for 3.8% of the population in Queens.
What are the implications for evangelism and church planting in Queens? What are the challenges and opportunities that this information presents?
Over the past few weeks I’ve been helping a church plant in Woodhaven NY. Grace Baptist Church has been around for awhile but they just recently moved to Woodhaven from Richmond Hill.
We recently mobilized a couple of mission teams to work with GBC to help them get the word out about their new location. Our teams passed out cookies and crackers on the corner of Woodhaven Blvd and Jamaica Avenue. We know of at least one who has started attending Grace as a result and perhaps others will in the days ahead.
Pastor Peter Nicotra of Grace Baptist Church serving residents of Woodhaven, NY
The church is now renting space from Emanuel United Church of Christ on the corner of 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Blvd. The entrance for Grace Baptist Church is actually on 92nd Avenue, just around the corner.
Entrance for Grace Baptist Church on 92nd Avenue
It has been a joy to work with Pastor Nicotra and we are excited about this new location in Woodhaven.
If you are looking for a church that loves God and loves people, this is the place to go in Woodhaven. You can find out more about them at gbcny.org.
There is a debate about whether the church should be an organism or an organized institution.
Rather than find a healthy balance, there is a tendency for the two sides to run to the extremes. As a result, those who debate the issue stake their claim on one extreme and attack the other rather than finding the strengths of the other’s position.
It’s okay to be organized. It’s okay to be organic. The problem comes when a church becomes overly organized or overly organic.
The Overly Organized Church
The overly organized church borrows more from the business world than from the Bible.
The overly organized church has flawless policy manuals. They establish structures and systems and, for the most part, everything runs smoothly.
The overly organized church hires a Pastor/CEO to oversee the systems and structures and boards and committees. If he fails the task then he is fired and a search committee is formed. Resumes are vetted to determine if this person has the necessary business acumen to lead the organization effectively.