Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Planting and Church Planting in NYC

Our team of eight students and myself are getting settled in here in Brooklyn.  We're getting to know the church planters of Mosaic and figuring out the subway system hasn't really fazed anyone.

Church planters Stephen Stallard and Woodley Victor have a vision for a multicultural gospel-centered church in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.  They already have many relationships here and several Bible studies.  Their focus this Summer is to increase relationships and the awareness of the church as they head towards their big launch of weekly services on September 7th.  Our role is to assist them in this effort however we can.  

We're currently preparing for a VBS in a local park next week.  One of the reasons we're even able to do this is because Stephen and Woodley have developed relationships with community leaders. Today we told no Bible stories, sang no children's worship songs, and played no games with children.  Instead, we worked alongside two of the community leaders in charge of the gardens in the park.  In addition to doing a service to the community, it goes a long way towards helping Mosaic secure events in this park in the future (Postscript: Although Robin, mentioned below, has a basically naturalistic worldview, she was happy to hand out flyers for the VBS outreach)

Our leader today was a lady named Robin.  She enthusiastically shared the history of the park with us (created in 1892) and the importance of parks in urban communities.  It's hard for those of us with front and back yards to appreciate the importance of a local park in large cities.  Community is enabled in unique way here.  

Robin shared about the history of planting trees in New York City.  For many years the benefits of having trees and the necessity of intentionality in planting them has been recognized.  One of the mistakes that has been made, however, is that they often used trees and plants that were not indigenous to the area.  "Trees that are not indigenous use up a lot of resources," she said.  

Thus the parallels to planting and church planting continue.  The missiological goal of church planting has long been to establish a church that is indigenous to the area.  While the gospel remains unchanged, buildings, languages, and other cultural factors need to be contextualized and local leaders need to emerge.  If this does not happen, the church will always be dependent on outsiders for both money and leadership.  

Please pray we are able to play our role well and that a multicultural gospel-centered church will emerge and thrive in Crown Heights! 

Joseph and Whitney working on children's songs for VBS

Finding out way around Brooklyn

Kyle Vaeler planting in Brower Park

A boy and girl playing in the water spouts at the park. After sitting on the opening, the boy 
reacts as the waters starts coming up again

After clearing weeds and planting in Brower Park.  Woodley Victory (church planter with
Mosaic) is on the left. 

A youth is walking past sidewalk art displaying a mosaic of pictures decrying gun use
and the second amendment.