What does it mean to be a faithful church in New York City? How do we hold to sound biblical doctrine while embodying and communicating that doctrine in a fruitful way?
These are a few of the questions that were posed to 250 New York City pastors and full-time ministry workers in November at the first of a series of monthly gatherings. The events are being held at the West 83rd Ministry Center, and are sponsored by Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Redeemer City to City.
Tim Keller’s recent book for pastors, a ministry textbook called Center Church, is being provided free to all participants and serves as the syllabus for the gatherings, covering topics such as Theological Vision and Contextualization. Each event includes a talk and Q&A by Tim Keller and a testimony or panel discussion featuring other pastors from the five boroughs.
For example, at a recent event Richard Rivera shared how his church plant Restoration Bronx was trying to embody the gospel by being a safe space in the South Bronx, deemphasizing pastoral titles or church authority and simply pointing people to rest in Christ. At another, David Ellis, pastor of Astoria Community Church, shared the burden and potential damage of preaching and pastoring without an understanding of grace.
One attending pastor commented, “It’s one thing to read about ministry philosophy and practice; but the combination of learning about it, seeing it carried out in ministry, and then seeing it applied in a way that directly and personally benefits me as a pastor in another church is highly impactful. Thanks for not only doing gospel-centered ministry, but applying it in a way that multiplies it into other churches.”
We hope these events will strengthen the relationships among pastors in the city, as well as bring about new partnerships in church planting and ministry. Robert Guerrero, the NYC Church Planting Catalyst for City to City, has planted churches in Chicago and the Dominican Republic. He observes, “This is a space in the city where pastors and leaders of diverse traditions and ministry contexts are coming together to be challenged in their thinking and practice around what it means to be Church in such a dynamic and challenging place like NYC. Dr Keller’s teachings on the topics of his recent book Center Church are not only practically formative and challenging, but deeply thought provoking.”