What if God dramatically impacted New York City? What if the grace of Jesus spread throughout every facet of life and culture in what is perhaps the most important and influential city in the world? These are the questions that ultimately propelled our family into our calling to start a new Church in New York City. It’s been a little over three months since our Vintage Church family prayed over us and sent us out on this new journey. Here is one story, one prayer, and one need that we have experienced since we’ve moved.
Though many aspects of our transition to the city have been difficult over these last few months, God has given us increasing affirmation that we are following his will and he is already at work here in the West Village. While walking through our neighborhood with some New Orleans friends one day shortly after we moved, we met and chatted with a lady at a local coffee shop. As it turned out, though she had lived in the West Village for the past 20 years, she was originally from my hometown in Covington, LA. Additionally, she shared that when she lived in Covington, she even attended church where I went to school! Over the course of our conversation, the lady explained that she hadn’t been able to find a solid Protestant church in our neighborhood, so she attends mass at one of the Catholic churches instead. After explaining our goal to start a new church in the Village, she excitedly declared that she would definitely want to be a part of a church “led by a guy from Covington” and couldn’t wait to tell her friends. So early after first moving into the city, God was already demonstrating to us that he is in control.
As exciting as our encounter with the lady from Covington was, most of the relationships we have seen grow during these first few months have been among our coworkers. In an effort to supplement income as we still seek out church partners for our future work here in the city, I’ve started working as a host at a Spanish tapas restaurant here in the city. With such a peculiar reason for coming to NYC (most of the other employees moved here for acting), many of my coworkers have taken interest in our family and our beliefs. By God’s grace, I’ve become somewhat the unofficial “pastor” of the restaurant and regularly have the opportunity to provide counsel and reflection for my coworkers regarding the events going on in our culture.
This past week, through God’s favor, I had my first opportunity to share the gospel one-on-one with one of my fellow coworkers. Though he has a Roman Catholic background, his lifestyle has pushed him away from organized religion and towards more of a spiritual pluralism. Over the course of our lunch break together, I was able to explain how the loving story of Jesus that he admired is actually an inherently exclusive message, and he left intrigued and wanting to talk more in the future. Please join me in praying for salvation in NYC and for more opportunities to share the gospel with my coworkers as well as our neighbors as we strive to life on mission here in the city.
Riley and I are both committed to an “incarnational” model for church planting (one that reflects how Jesus came and dwelt among the people, learning their culture, and speaking their language). Living in Manhattan, however, is even more expensive than we originally expected. While the city certainly carries with it more influence than perhaps anywhere else on the planet, the high cost of living, particularly in Manhattan, has kept many new churches from being planted there. In the coming months and years, we will need multiple individual contributors and church partners, like Vintage Church, to come alongside us financially as we seek to establish a self-sustaining church that can be a part of a movement of gospel multiplication throughout NYC and the rest of the world.