“God is doing something in this city.”
That was Kimberly’s reaction when she heard that Tim Tebow was traded to the Jets. Who could’ve imagined that our city, one of the least-churched in the nation, would have two prominent Christian athletes at the same time? Add to that the number of church plants and revitalizations in the city, and there is hope that we’re on the verge of a gospel movement.
The other day I mentioned one church plant here in the city from the Church at Brook Hills that is focused on the Astoria neighborhood in Queens. It’s not the only one. Here are two others that will be starting soon.
- Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA is sponsoring a church plant in the same neighborhood, under the leadership of Rob Rodriguez. I’ve gotten to know Rob over the past six months and have found him to be a delight. His heart for God and his gospel is unmistakable, and his heart for people and pioneer’s spirit form, I think, a great mix for church planting. Another member of his team, Alex Morris, has been faithfully serving at our church since October. They have been thrilled to find a partnership with a third fellow, Max Pera, who has been shepherding a congregation of about thirty Brazilians but who want to grow into a multi-ethnic congregation. The team, following a modified cell-celebration model, is coming together to form CityView Baptist Church.
[By the way, the leaders of both Astoria church plants are working side-by-side as partners as they proceed. Although Astoria is a neighborhood of 250,000 people, one could count the number of gospel-preaching churches on one hand.]
- Nick Peterson has served as a teaching pastor for Living Hope Church in Philadelphia, but his heart has always been inclined towards Manhattan. It looks like his desire is about to be fulfilled. He is leading a team that hopes to plant a church in Lower Manhattan. Since he is still raising support and will be bi-vocational for some time, it will likely be another year before the start-up is launched. But God has accelerated the process over the past few weeks, and it looks like Nick and his family will be here by late spring. Members of our church will get to know Nick pretty well in the coming months; they’re planning to be loosely connected with First during their pre-launch days. He and I spent a few hours together yesterday walking the streets. I’ve been impressed with the way he’s thinking through the gospel and its implications for ministry in the city.
Pray for these teams, that God will graciously bring the light of the gospel to those who walk in darkness. Give to these teams. They have tangible needs besides finances, so ask them what they need. Perhaps the Lord will use you to answer their prayers. And then come. Come for a short-term trip. Or come to stay.
But as you go, wherever you go, always be discipling (Mt 28.19).