Over the past few months, God has been giving us clarity on our church planting vision for Queens, NY.
Without even planning it this way, the vision God has given us has become more than a vision of what we will see happen. It is also the process to accomplish the vision. In fact, our vision is our disciple making process, our church planting plan, and an embodied apologetic.
First, here is our mission:
Our mission is to glorify God by making disciples of all peoples.
The mission is larger than us. It’s simply the mission that Jesus gives all of His followers. Our church in Queens isn’t going to accomplish this mission entirely on its own, but, as far as it depends on us, the above is what we will strive for.
Our vision on the other hand, is how we will pursue the mission in our particular time and space.
Our Church Planting Vision
We will be a multiplying community of Jesus’ followers in the heart of Queens who will go on mission, grow in grace, and gather in His name for the glory of God among all peoples.
I know. I know. What good are statements like these, right? However, when God gives you a vision for what He is calling you to do it helps to capture it in a clear statement. Otherwise, you might find yourself building something flashier and trendier and otherwise different than what God intended.
Starting a church is like starting a business.
The only difference is that in this “business” the “business partners” won’t be getting a financial return; the “employees” pay (tithe) the company for the privilege of working for free; “customers” are asked to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus; and the “product” is a message that is offensive to 90% of the people who hear it.
That’s why I’ve come to a few conclusions about what it takes to start a church:
- It takes an act of God to start a church.
- That act of God always involves the people of God.
- It’s up to God to get the right people in the right places at the right time.
- God mobilizes some people to go down into the mine and some people to hold the ropes.
An Act of God
Our journey to start churches in New York City proves that it takes an act of God to start a church.
The Apostle Paul traveled 13,000 miles on his missionary journeys and according to the NYC Department of Transportation there are 12,750 miles of sidewalk in New York City.
If Paul could travel 13,000 miles to bring the gospel to those who had not heard, is it crazy to think that we could walk 12,750 miles to do the same in New York City?
The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 tells us to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…”
There is no more strategic place in the world to “go” and make disciples than New York City.
To begin with, there are people speaking 800 languages from 500 distinct people groups living in Metro New York.
So, pursuing Jesus’ mission in New York City literally involves walking across the street or down the block or to the store and interacting with people of all nations “as we go”.
With that in mind, I’m inviting you to join me on a Sidewalk Missionary Journey.
The Sidewalk Missionary Journey is a walk down all 12,750 miles of sidewalk in New York City to see the city, pray for the city, serve the city, and preach the Gospel.
If you are involved in church planting and have never heard of Seth Godin, you need to pay attention.
Seth writes mostly about new marketing but I think you’ll find his ideas are refreshingly compatible with Biblically healthy church practices.
This morning I ran across a post Seth wrote a couple of years ago called First, ten. Check it out and let me know in the comments how his marketing “secret” applies to church planters and leaders:
This, in two words, is the secret of the new marketing.
Find ten people. Ten people who trust you/respect you/need you/listen to you…
Those ten people need what you have to sell, or want it. And if they love it, you win. If they love it, they’ll each find you ten more people (or a hundred or a thousand or, perhaps, just three). Repeat.
If they don’t love it, you need a new product. Start over.
Your idea spreads.
The last month has been a whirlwind of activity for my family.
In addition to launching a disciple making writing project, we decided to move to Queens to start an English speaking multiethnic church plant.
More about that in a minute.
Meanwhile, on the blog, I’ve written several articles that struck a nerve. If you missed The Pastor Driven Church, I’d like to invite you to join the conversation. Also, today churchleaders.com picked up one of my articles called Making Disciple-Making Disciples and republished it on their site for, well, church leaders. Head on over there and check it out and tweet it or share it on facebook.
But the biggest news is obviously our decision to move to Queens. I have several years of church planting experience in the Northeast but I really feel like a novice in many ways. I put together a Queens Fact Sheet that you’re welcome to check out. Or, you can subscribe to my newsletter to stay in the loop especially on the eBook and the church plant journey. In the weeks ahead, I’ll also share bits and pieces of our story here on the blog.
Book Review: Embodying Our Faith: Becoming a Living, Sharing, Practicing Church by Tim Morey (InterVarsity Press)
Tim Morey (D.Min., Fuller Theological Seminary) is a church planter and pastor. His church, Life Covenant Church is located in Torrance, California. He is also on the national church planting team for the Evangelical Covenant Church and is an adjunct professor teaching practical theology at Talbot School of Theology.
Tim Morey asks, “How do we bring the message of Jesus to a culture that is deeply skeptical about truth claims, rejects metanarratives (such as the gospel), considers the church a suspect institution, takes offense at moral judgments and believes any religion will lead them to God?”
When put that way, our task seems a bit overwhelming. However, Morey does a great job of developing a philosophy of church planting while simultaneously making evangelism in a postmodern context a simpler concept to understand.