I had a great time with the folks at FBC Goodlettesville a couple of weeks ago. Here’s my sermon from that Sunday.
We’re loading our moving truck in about 30 minutes and pulling out. As we transition out of New York City and begin to discover where our next long term ministry assignment will be, I have the wonderful opportunity to serve as Ministry Associate at my home church, First Baptist Church of Clarksville, Tennessee. The nature of this role along with the life giving relationships we have with people at FBC will help facilitate the rest and replenishing we need after five years in Manhattan. I’m looking forward to collaborating with FBC’s Pastor, Larry Riley on a number of evangelism and ministry ideas and initiatives. It will be exciting to see how our “best practices” from NYC translate into Clarksville.
Pray for us that:
- God give us rest and renewal as we transition out of NYC.
- God will establish the work of our hands as we serve at FBC.
- God will direct our steps to the right long-term pastorate.
By now you may have already heard that I have resigned as pastor of Gallery Church. As each day now passes, my confidence only grows that this is God’s direction for us (the Wyatt family) and Gallery Church.
Susan and I even now are beginning to feel the relief of coming out of the pressure cooker that is Manhattan. We are happy that we’ll be with our family over Thanksgiving & Christmas. We’ve been in New York City every Thanksgiving for the past five years. (Can anybody say Macy’s Parade!) We’re grateful that God has given us the faith to step into a season of rest so we can be 100% for our next season of ministry.
I have confidence that Gallery Church is going to continue to flourish in the days, months and years to come. That confidence finds its source in Great Promises and Great People.
Anytime change or transition takes place in a church the temptation to be anxious or afraid is always creeping close by. But for God’s people, God’s great promises dispel our anxieties and extinguish our fears. Take Jesus’ well known promise from Matthew 16:18
“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Jesus makes a promise of certainty. He has no doubt in his mind. The creator of the universe, the designer of gallaxies, the upholder of time, space and history is going to build something. He’s going to build his church. There is nothing to worry about. There is nothing to be afraid of. His church is going to be built. As we think about Gallery Church, we can rest in this promise.
God gave us another great promise through the Apostle Paul’s writings in Philippians 1:6,
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Paul the Super Church Planter, wasn’t afraid to leave a new church plant because he knew God’s work in these new churches wasn’t contingent upon him. He knew that God’s work in His people was unstoppable. He knew that Jesus was the head of his church. He knew that God cared for his children as their Father. He believed that God would continue to mold His people. So, Paul wrote with great confidence about the future of the Christians in Philippi.
Are you believing these promises today for Gallery Church? Are you believing these promises today for the transitions taking place in your church?
Promises have practical fulfillments. God not only makes promises, He uses means to make good on His promises. God uses people.
Jordan Richard. Butch Burns. Brandon Moore. Raleigh Sadler.
As I think about the future of Gallery Church, my confidence grows the more I think about these men. These aren’t the only great people at Gallery Church, but these are her leaders. It has been a great joy to see God raise us these stellar servants to lead Gallery Church forward.
Jordan Richard has been at Gallery since its inception. He’s a New Yorker of 10 years. Jordan gets the city. He humbly walks with God and is a winsome witness for Jesus as a freelancer in TV production at NBC, CBS and the like. When Jordan preaches at Gallery, you can hear a pin drop. He is masterful at contextualizing the gospel for New Yorkers.
Butch Burns helped start Gallery Church in the early days, moved back to Tennessee for a season but couldn’t stay away. He and his wife, Maribeth recently returned to New York City and Gallery Church. They lead NAMB’s NYC Generation Send initiative training the next generation of potential church planters. Butch is the wise Gandalf of Gallery’s elder team.
I don’t know a godlier man than Gallery’s Associate Pastor, Brandon Moore. After serving for two years on staff at Gallery Church, Brandon moved to Louisville, finished his M.Div, got married and recently returned to New York City and Gallery Church. Brandon is so good at execution we nicknamed him “the hornet” & “the general” when he served with Gallery previously. He’s a great preacher and is passionate about giving direction to Gallery’s small groups.
After serving in collegiate ministry in West Virginia for 3 years, Raleigh Sadler moved to New York City to be a part of the team at Gallery Church. I discovered years ago that Raleigh was a gifted preacher as we took preaching class together in seminary. He is passionate about college students, justice ministries and discipleship in the local church. Raleigh is a natural inspirer.
It is easy to be confident in Gallery’s future when you consider the great people God is raising up as leaders. These men are unified, humbly confident and chomping at the bit to make a difference in the city for Jesus.
God has given Gallery Church great promises and great people. Take a moment today to pray and thank God for his fatherly care for his church. Rejoice in his great promises for his church. Make it a point to encourage the great people God has raised up to lead this next season at Gallery Church.
One of the first questions people ask me when I tell them we are leaving New York City and Gallery Church, is, “What are they going to do about a pastor?” I don’t know the answer to that question. I do know they’ll have a lot of options in how they choose to move forward and most of all – I am confident that Gallery will continue to flourish because of God’s great promises and God’s great people.
Gallery Church Family,
Five years ago, gripped with a vision to plant churches all throughout New York City, Susan, Jack and I moved to New York to join the church planting team of Gallery Church, as a teaching pastor. By God’s grace, this city quickly became our home and this church quickly became our family.
In December of 2011, Susan and I got unexpectedly pregnant with our fourth child, Parker. The months following this news were a roller coaster for us. We weren’t immediately sure what our next step would be. Eventually, we determined to stay and to seek every sustainable advantage that would enable us to thrive in the city with four kids. We are grateful for the generous churches and many people that partnered with us to secure these sustainable advantages. Yet, now after living in the city for a year with four kids and after much, prayer, reflection and counsel, we believe that God is leading us out of New York City and into a new season of ministry.
And so, it is with sincere sadness and sober gladness that I announce my resignation as Pastor of Gallery Church.
We are sad to leave you, the people that have become precious to us. It has been one of my life’s greatest privileges to serve as your pastor and to grow with you over these years. Our elders, staff and deacons have been a great joy to serve with. They have been very gracious and patient with me as a young pastor.
We also have a sober gladness. We are glad because our hearts are unified and this is God’s direction for us. We are glad because this signifies a new day for us and for Gallery Church. Our God is the glorious maker of all things new and we will watch expectantly to see what wondrous things He does in this next new season at Gallery Church!
Our exact timeline is still falling into place, but our family will be in New York City at least until the week of Thanksgiving. We will be moving to our hometown in Tennessee for a brief season of rest and renewal as we prepare for whatever season of ministry God has for us next.
We thank you for how you have loved our kids. So many of you are their heroes. You will not be forgotten. Large families can and will continue to flourish in New York City. It isn’t easy, but it can most definitely be done. Everyone’s story is unique and we each must faithfully sojourn the path that God leads us on.
We believe now more than ever that New York City is one of the most strategic places on the planet for gospel ministry. In the years to come, we hope to encourage more and more churches around the country to partner with ministries here in New York.
During this season of transition, I encourage you to follow the leadership here at Gallery Church. God has given this church gracious, wise, and godly leaders – you can trust them. Susan and I are confident that Gallery’s brightest days are ahead.
We are thankful for you. We ask you to pray for us and we commit to praying for you.
With all our love,
Freddy T. & Susan Wyatt
NFL. Wealth. Fame. No thanks.
Ministry. Service. Seminary. Yes.
* This blog post was updated toward the bottom on July 25th to express ongoing love to our neighbors.
Our church was recently forced out of our worship space for preaching a sermon about same sex attraction. Here’s the story…
We were stuck. Our church had outgrown our worship space, yet we were locked into a lease for two more years. We couldn’t financially afford to carry our current lease and rent a new larger space simultaneously. Going to two services was not a wise option for us for several reasons. It was looking like the size of our space would continue to hinder our ability to grow. Yet God provided.
Out of the blue, a world class jazz company named “The Jazz Gallery” approached us, asking to sublease our space every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night for their jazz concerts. Rezoning was requiring them to move out of their SoHo location that had housed their concerts for the past 17 years. Subleasing to the Jazz Gallery gave us the financial ability to look for a larger worship space for our Sunday gatherings. Excited to bless The Jazz Gallery and thrilled with God’s provision, we moved forward.
We found what seemed to be a perfect new space in a restaurant just a block and a half away. I had actually eaten there several times and had always thought it would be a great gathering location. We approached the restaurant and they were glad to host us within our budget. With great anticipation, we forged an agreement, moved in and immediately our attendance jumped by twenty people. I wrote all about the new space in a previous post.
Then we preached a sermon about same sex attraction.
After only meeting in our new space for a couple of months, we were asked to leave. The restaurant that was hosting us had received significant backlash from the neighborhood for hosting a Christian church in their space. The backlash came before the sermon was even preached yet was enough to motivate the restaurant to end their partnership with us. We were renting their space for $25K on the year, paying their sound tech $150 a Sunday, and averaged about 10 people eating every Sunday at their restaurant that opened right after our worship service ended. Yet, disassociating from a Christian church was more valuable to them.
Employees of the restaurant were struck by the kindness of my tone as I shared the news with our church. Our church was sobered by the persecution and responded with grace and gratitude. We were not interested in creating some sort of firestorm, instead, many were immediately hopeful to see how God would provide. Additionally, I’ve been prayerful that our personal witnesses are being emboldened as a fruitful result.
We were given a short two months to find a new space. Not an easy task. Yet in God’s gracious providence, we found a new space that meets our needs better than we were willing to imagine:
- The Gallery Kid area is the largest, cleanest, brightest, and safest space we’ve ever had!
- The worship space has enough room for our gathering to triple in size!
- We now have storage on site for everything we use on Sundays!
- We’re still centrally located! 230 W29th Street between 7th and 8th Ave
One of the only drawbacks to our new space is the cost. Though very reasonable for Manhattan, leasing this new space costs $15K more (on the year) than our previous space. Will you pray and ask God how you may be able to lean in during this critical time and help us with a financial gift?
It is easy to trace God’s invisible hand of providence in this story. No doubt, God is using what others meant for ill, to move us into larger worship space a little faster than we would have moved on our own. We rejoice. More than anything, we want God to be honored as his name and his church advance in New York City.
Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you 2 Thessalonians 3:1
Updated: Telling this story has created an unfortunate firestorm of hostility toward Hill Country Barbecue Market which wasn’t our intention. Thus I add to this post this following statement:
We recently shared through a blog post a short account of our church being asked to no longer meet at Hill Country Barbecue Market. Additionally, upon request we have shared this story with three different radio shows. We shared our story so people would know how they can pray for our church, and how they can support our church financially during a time of need.
We enjoy friendships with the individuals who work at Hill Country Barbecue Market and appreciate their willingness to host our church for the season they did. We had a month-to-month lease with the restaurant, which they chose to not renew. Some of the news reports have used the term “eviction” – this was not our term, nor is it the best description of their decision. Though Hill Country Barbecue Market’s decision saddened us, we understood and respected it. We’ve also been saddened by the hateful and hostile things that have been written about this restaurant as a response to hearing our story. Please join us, Gallery Church in responding with neighborly love and grace toward our friends at Hill Country Barbecue Market. We look forward to continuing our friendships, finding tangible ways to bless our neighbors, and will continue to eat at Hill Country Barbecue Market.
At Gallery Church, it is our goal to both live quietly and to walk properly before outsiders (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) and to boldly proclaim the hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:28). Pray for us as we seek to be faithful in both of these endeavors.
The man in the elevator asked,
“How many months will you be here?”
The man was replying to one of my friends who had just introduced himself as a church planter – pastor here in NYC.
Planters move into the city. Planters move out of the city. People notice.
Moving into the city, though difficult is easier than staying in the city. I’ll never forget Gallery Church’s founding pastor, Aaron Coe saying,
“If you can’t light a $100 bill on fire and be comfortable watching it burn, you’ll never make it in New York City.”
And though I don’t know many people who’d be comfortable watching a $100 bill burn, the imagery of his point drives home a critical truth — living in a city like New York requires massive financial adjustments and sacrifices. To secure our first NYC apartment we had to pay the first month’s rent, a broker’s fee that was the same amount as one month’s rent, and two month’s rent for a security deposit. A recent New York Times article detailed some of these financial realities. In addition to financial challenges, families must also conquer small living spaces, keep up with the breakneck pace, survive the long winters, and stay rooted despite the ever-transient nature of their churches and relationships, just to name a few of the difficulties.
Enter Taylor and Susan Field.
While most would probably consider 10-15 years in New York City to fit the “longevity” category, Taylor and Susan have been ministering here for 26 years. Most of those years they have been leading Graffiti Ministries in Alphabet City. I recently asked Taylor to share his story with our staff team at Gallery and to coach us on longevity in the city. In classic Taylor style, his advice was humble, at times humorous, yet dripping with wisdom. His primary exhortation was,
“Keep a sabbath.”
Here are some of my raw notes from our time with Taylor:
- Those that fight for life, share a flavor that the protected will never know. (didn’t get the author)
- Does the size of your commitment match the size of your dream?
- “If you don’t plan your time, someone will do it for you.” – Macdonald
- At Grafitti they determined to officially open the work day at 10 rather than 9 to prioritize time alone with God. (I thought this was amazing for a church staff and am looking forward to implementing something like this at Gallery. How many times do we hear about ministers and church staff burning out?)
- Taylor guards his time for reading, study, rest, or whatever, with the phrase “previous commitment.” He’s never had anyone press back and demand to know what that “previous commitment” is. If it is your day off, if you need an hour to pray, and someone wants some of your time, you can honestly tell them, you have a previous commitment. I thought this was simple yet priceless in managing time and a schedule.
- Plan your quiet time.
- You have exactly enough time to do what God wants you to do.
- KEEP A SABBATH
- When we don’t keep a sabbath we have a hidden arrogance because what we are doing is so important…I cannot stop.
- We must trust God’s invisible love beyond visible circumstances.
- “If your ox is always in the ditch, kill that ox and fill up the ditch.” (didn’t get author)
- Whatever you repress, it will return to you with knife in hand and it will demand a sacrifice.
- Before you can say the holy yes, you have to say the holy no.
- Be ready to say, “Let me get back to you on that tomorrow,” so you can appropriately evaluate your yes or no.
- Approach NYC as an anthropologist.
- If I come as the rescuer, I’ll become the persecutor.
- Seek to understand before judging. He gave a brilliant example of not judging people in the city for how much they rush where they are going. Seek to understand WHY? It may be because they aren’t going to hold up the 20 people behind them.
- If you try to fight the city, you’ll never win. Illustrating this he noted the “dance of the bus drivers” in the NYC streets.
It struck me while Taylor spoke that though I have worked hard to regularly take a sabbath, I haven’t worked as hard to ensure that Susan, my wife, does. That Friday, I lovingly demanded that Susan take the day off from the kids, and enjoy a sabbath. And the next Friday, and now we’re in a sabbath rhythm. Every Pastor’s wife knows Sunday is no sabbath for a Pastor’s wife.
So will I make it 10-15 years? Or will I make it 26 years? Only time will tell. One thing I do know is that I’ll take my next sabbath. Thank you Taylor and Susan Field for paving the way with faithfulness and longevity. Perhaps, years from now it will be said,
“Planters move into the city. Planters stay in the city. People notice.”
What I loved most about this past Easter Sunday…
I loved that we had 171 people present, our highest attendance since I’ve been at Gallery Church,
I loved that we had more visitors than regulars,
I loved the diversity of the people present,
I loved hearing how Jesus Christ had changed Greg, Roberta, and Manuel’s lives,
I loved preaching about God’s grace,
I loved singing about the resurrection of Jesus,
I loved the mashup tunes DJ Mark threw down,
I loved our witty emcees – Tadds & EKirk,
I loved having our founding pastor and his family worshiping with us,
Most of all, I loved that several people received God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ! AND I loved watching our Gallery Church family embrace, love on, and minister to so many new people!
What did you love about Easter Sunday?
Do you remember your make believe worlds from childhood? You know, the imaginary friends you’d play with or the imaginary places you’d visit? Most recently, my son Jack has been telling me about his “midnight trips to Asia in his jet plane” with his actual friend Johann. These have been excited stories to listen to. I love watching his imagination work.
I think we all could use a good dose of missional imagination. In Ephesians 3:20-21, the Apostle Paul seemed to imply that an active imagination about God doing great things through us is a healthy thing:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the temptation toward hype and grandiosity that many church leaders face. Rather, I’m talking about imagining how God might use our own personal witness for him, for his glory. Do we dare imagine how often we might share Jesus with our friends if we were never afraid of them or their responses. Do we dare imagine those same friends coming to Christ and becoming bold witnesses for Jesus. Do we dare imagine a mini-movement of people sharing Christ within our workplaces, our gyms, our neighborhoods – all rippling out from our own enthusiastic obedience to share Christ with others. Of your friends who would win the most people to Jesus if they became a Christian themselves? Of your friends, who would have the most winsome witness for Jesus if they became one of his followers? Are you imagining? In 2 Thessalonians 3:1 Paul asked for prayer,
…Pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.
It seems almost certain that Paul envisioned something specific when he asked for the gospel to spread rapidly and be honored. Take a moment to consider what it would look like if the gospel spread rapidly among your personal networks. Dozens of your friends finding hope they never dreamed existed, finding love that brings rest to their souls. Imagination is the first step toward a movement.
There is so much to celebrate about our move into our new worship space this past Sunday. A holy nervousness and humble dependance hovered over my heart all morning. Today, I am spent yet full. I’ve enjoyed reflecting on what made yesterday so special:
Gallery Kid was BRAND NEW! Our new space has allowed our Gallery Kid Leadership to dream up a whole new paradigm and structure. Each child was engaged on a whole new level as they moved from station to station, seated at tables, soaking up the love and message of Jesus shared by volunteers. AND there is plenty of room for Gallery Kid to grow! Who’s gonna have a baby?
More People & More Space. You may be thinking, “Wasn’t this move supposed to give us more space? It felt pretty full Sunday.” Exactly! Because of your excitement, so many new people were invited. We had 27 more people present that our average attendance AND we still had 30 open seats! People could easily stand around and talk afterwords without feeling like they were in a subway car. Yes, we’ll be taking a few tables out, putting a few more chairs out and leading everyone to fill in the wings, but let’s not miss celebrating that the chief reason we moved into a new space was beginning to be fulfilled our first Sunday in: More People & More Space.
Assimilation in Action. I was greeted by someone on our 1st impressions team I didn’t yet know. While this may have happened to many of you several times before, it was a first for me. The reason this is so significant is that it signifies how our new assimilation initiative “Preview” is working.
Great Vibe. Our new signage and energetic 1st impressions team created a great environment. The music was on it and our new load-in & load-out team were like butta! Smooth like a big fat stick of butta!
We broke a fast which usually provides a renewed thankfulness for food and for Jesus.
You were there. Seriously, the most precious two hours for the Wyatt family every week is gathering with our Gallery Family. For us, it doesn’t matter where we gather, as long as we are with you. Despite how transient our congregation may feel at times, you give us stability. Jesus is making us beautiful and beautiful things are…well…beautiful. And if you weren’t there, you were missed. There’s room for you and your friends, we hope to see you Sunday.
I can’t wait until I’m blogging about our next new space but until then…
What else can we celebrate from this past Sunday? How did you see God’s faithfulness?
Thanks for all the messages and notes over the past couple of days. God has graciously enabled us to meet many critical needs in the immediate wake of Sandy in our local Manhattan context. There has been an outpouring of volunteers today for the relief sites. Manhattan eyes and hearts will now turn to Long Island, Staten Island, Rockaway and other devastated areas.
Susan Alfonso Wyatt and our kids went to West Point a couple of days ago with our friends Chad Monroe and Stephanie Taylor Monroe. This turned out to be the right move for our family. I’ve been able to focus my efforts on city needs and church volunteer coordination. Assessing and prioritizing needs can be as difficult as digging someone out of the mud.
I am spent, yet full.
Today I begin to shift my thoughts and energies back toward my family as they take a train back into the city. We’re in a hotel in Midtown and may have to remain there for several days. Though the majority of the power in Lower Manhattan has been restored, our building unfortunately underwent internal electrical damages. We’ve not been given an estimate as to when the electricity will actually work in our building. So still no lights, no elevator, etc. School is supposed to start back on Monday and I am actually supposed to be in Columbus, OH, Mon-Thur so we’ve got a lot to figure out.
In the midst of it all, we know we are deeply loved by our perfect heavenly Father. We are inspired by the unity of the churches in New York City. We are cared for by the people ofThe Gallery Church of New York. And we are prayed for by many of you.
Thank you again for all of your care and concern.
If you’d like to contribute to Gallery Church’s Sandy Relief Fund click here.
If you’d like to support Susan & Me directly, I can pass that info on to you, just let us know.
Loving Our Neighbors,
I’m excited that Gallery Church NYC will be participating in CityWide Worship on October 5th.
6/29/12 UPDATE! // The Album is now on iTunes! Get it HERE!
It is a privilege to be a part of a church with such talented and dedicated musicians. It is especially rich when those people begin to write songs inspired by what we are studying together as a church and from their own personal times with God.
Under the leadership of Chris Mills and Anthony Taddeo, we are very pleased to share with you the overflow of what God is doing in Gallery Church through these worship tunes. Pre-Order the full album today and you can download three tracks immediately. Or if you’d like, you can simply listen to and enjoy those three tracks for free.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
This past Sunday at Gallery Church we saw in Mark 6 how Jesus invited his disciples to get away with him to a desolate place to rest. You probably have your favorite places to get away from the busyness of things, to spend alone time with Jesus. I know when I lived in Tennessee, I would love to drive down country roads where for miles, I wouldn’t see a soul. One of my first questions I asked when I arrived in New York City almost four years ago was “Where can I go for quiet alone time with God?” The looks I got were blank stares.
This past Sunday as people received communion, I invited them to write on the back wall their favorite places to spend quiet time alone with God. The list is pure gold for a New Yorkers! Here it is:
- North woods
- Rooftops at night
- Inwood hill park
- Fort Greene park, Ft Greene, Bk
- Hudson river park
- 110 @ Riverside
- The streets of New York
- Highbridge park
- ORO Bakery on Broome
- Nomad hotel library
- Times square on 44th deli 2nd floor
- Dyckman farmhouse gardens (204th &Broadway-yes a real farmhouse in Manhattan!)
- El baño
- Catholic churches during the day (st. Francis 31st&6th)
- AM in bed
- Brooklyn museum (5th floor)
- Liberty state park (jersey city, NJ)
- Apartment when kids are asleep!
- Roosevelt island
- Irish hunger memorial
- Stuyvesant cove park
- East river walkway
- “the Labyrinth” in Battery Park–go through the gates and down the path
- 40th st&3rd ave, NW corner, up the stairs
- Morning side
- Greenway trail
- Carlton hotel Lobby
- Lola hotel lobby
- Subway train while listening to instrumental music
- Park e 124th/Madison
- Restaurant Broadway
- Subway & mornings Alone @ home
Many of these places are brand new to me. Some of these places are surprising. A list of this length however, stirs my faith, that there are many wonderful places to get alone with God in the city.
What else would you add to the list? Where do you like to spend alone time with God in New York City?
Stephen Kim grew up in the poverty-stricken, drug-infested Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn where his father was a church planting pastor. Stephen experienced one of the scariest and most difficult kinds of childhoods that the hyper-urban context of New York City has to offer. This kind of journey often results in people moving as far away from the city as they can get.
He is now gripped with a vision to address the theological famine in New York City by planting a church in Queens. Stephen and Michelle Kim joined Gallery Church in 2010. Last may (2011), we had the privilege of ordaining Stephen to the gospel ministry. Last Sunday we excitedly commissioned Stephen, his family and Elliott Kim to plant Mustard Seed Church in Queens.
This past Sunday, Stephen and his core team launched Mustard Seed Church.
Would you pause and pray right now for Stephen and Mustard Seed Church?
Our church’s offices and worship services are housed in a beautiful loft on Broadway in the emerging neighborhood known as NoMad (North of Madison Square Park), in Manhattan. New Yorkers simply know our Church’s specific location as 27th and Broadway while more tourists might know “the stretch of Broadway between Herald Square and Madison Square Park.” We’ve been gathering in this location for almost three years.
Directly across from Gallery Church is a four story billboard on the side of Broadway Plaza Hotel. The billboard is changed out it seems every month or so, with usually a new Coca Cola ad. The billboard is seemingly owned by Coca Cola evidenced by a small unchanging icon badge underneath billboard. Tuesday morning, I looked out of my Gallery Church office window only to see a four story sized half-naked woman on the billboard advertising Vitamin Water. The billboard took the breath out of me, not in a good way. I had begun to look forward to the different billboards each month, but this one stopped me in my tracks. I was angry, and brokenhearted. I try to distract my boys whenever we walk by magazine stands in the city, some of which have no filter on what they display right in the front. There was no way to distract anyone away from this billboard. I was brokenhearted for the woman who was on the billboard, knowing thousands of men every day will pass by looking at her picture as an object to be lusted after, not a person to be valued. I was brokenhearted that my little girl, Lillie, after hearing the message that she is loved and valued by God will walk out the doors of her church only to receive another message by the four story billboard, maybe if you look like this, or take your shirt off and sexually tease men, maybe then you’ll be valued by them. I’m sure the goal of Coca Cola and Vitamin Water’s PR campaign wasn’t to degrade women and to tempt men to do the same. Unfortunately, that is exactly what this particular billboard had done. I wonder how comfortable the women on the advertising team at Coca Cola and Vitamin Water would have been modeling what this billboard was supposed to look like in the board room. My guess is not too comfortable. It is sad to see companies practice lazy art and innovation in their advertizing only to fall into the disrespectful “sex sells” strategy.
I decided to take a little action. I sent just a few tweets @CocaCola and @Vitamin water telling them my brief thoughts about the billboard and asking them to take it down. Here were my Tuesday tweets to them:
“@cocacola @Vitaminwater I’m a Pastor in NYC & u just put this larger than life garbage up across from @GalleryChurch”(and I included the picture of the billboard)
“@cocacola @vitaminwater the billboard is degrading to women, unhelpful for men. #takeitdown”
“@cocacola @vitaminwater is ur product so bad that you have to put a half dressed woman on a building sized billboard to sell it? #pathetic”
“@cocacola @vitaminwater On behalf of the families in NYC that are seeking to raise respectable & wholesome families, take it down.”
I didn’t mince words.
I was surprised when @Vitaminwater tweeted back the next day “@FreddyT we’d love to discuss your concerns, freddy. can we call you @gallerychurch, or can you dm us your contact information?”
I responded by Direct Messaging Vitamin Water (Vitaminwater) and included Gallery Church’s phone number. (They had begun to follow me on twitter by this point.) Later that day, they called while I was on the other line and left a name and number. I called that number back and left a message and called one more time but was not able to reach them.
I came into the office this morning, looked out my window and saw this:
Vitamin Water took the billboard down! I’m not entirely sure if they covered it, or took it down all together, but man was I thankful, impressed and excited.
I’m thankful to Vitamin Water for listening to and caring about my concerns and complaints. This alone is impressive. But that’s not all they did, they actually took the time to call me. And though we’ve been playing phone tag for past couple of days and haven’t yet actually gotten to talk, Vitamin Water chose, on the basis of four tweets, to take the billboard down. This is a respectable, honorable, and classy decision on the part of Vitamin Water. I am not sure of the relationship of Vitamin Water with CocaCola, but major shout out to you both for doing the right thing. I offer Vitamin Water and Coca Cola my sincere gratitude and congratulations!
I couldn’t help but to think, the billboard is now an appropriate solid black for Good Friday. “And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour…And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.” Mark 15:33 & 37
If you walk four blocks south on Broadway past the Gallery Church, the image that was on the billboard can be found much, much smaller on the outside of bus stop shelter. Perhaps this billboard incident will spur on a conversation at Vitamin Water that results in the removal of these inappropriate images from all their ads. If they do this, and restore the focus of their ads back on their product, Vitamin Water the drink, wont be the only thing that is refreshing. Their ads will be too.
This coming Saturday at 1-4pm our church family will launch into Chelsea Park Neighborhood to engage in Easter Outreach. Sign-ups for the event have surpassed our staff team’s goal and we are excited! In the past, the Gallery Church has hosted Easter Egg Hunts and block parties, but this is one of the first “relationship building blitz’s” we’ve done in our neighborhood that I can remember. Either way, this still has the feel of an “event.” One of the questions you may be asking is, “Isn’t the Gallery Church committed to more of a lifestyle evangelism approach than an event evangelism approach?”
Yes. For the most part. Let me explain.
Our mission at the Gallery Church is to make disciples of our personal networks, the Chelsea Park Neighborhood and the nations. The aspect of our mission that will naturally get most of our time and energies is our personal networks. As we seek to make disciples of our personal networks, we must invest relationally with people while loving and serving them in ways they’ve never experienced. This investment takes place as we are engaging in an intentional lifestyle, living out the love of Christ on a daily basis, and being bold with the gospel as an ongoing commitment.
On the other hand, making disciples of the Chelsea Park Neighborhood will probably look a little different. There is a synergistic relationship between making disciples of our personal networks and the Chelsea Park Neighborhood. As we look toward this collaborative effort to engage the Chelsea Park Neighborhood there are several reasons why an event like this is a win for us as a church:
- Outreach events can help catalyze outreach lifestyles in us. Once we’ve seen how simple and energizing it is to reach out to people during an event we’re far more likely to reach out to others, one on one in our personal networks.
- Outreach Events can serve as on the ground training for those who are new to sharing the gospel or engaging people relationally as they get to see others model it. You can sit through sermons all day long and never really get “how” to share with others, but when you see someone else doing it, the lights really come on.
- Outreach Events can help people conquer their fears. Because we’re all doing this together, people are not nearly as afraid to participate.
- Outreach Events can help us build trust in our neighborhood. Chris Mills and Allen Back are starting a Young Life Club in the Chelsea Park Neighborhood. As people associate Chris and Allen with “that whole group from the Gallery Church that were loving on our kids last Saturday” it will give them the credibility they need.
- Outreach Events can help us tell a lot of people in a short amount of time that the Gallery Church is in the neighborhood. Because we meet in an art loft with no steeple and limited signage, many people in and around our neighborhood do not even know we are here.
I’ve got several other reasons bouncing around in my head, but I’d love to hear what you think. Why do you think Outreach Events have the potential to be a major win for us as a church? What do they help us accomplish? How do they shape us as a family? Weigh in. Share your thoughts.
A few days ago, I introduced my readers to Elizabeth A. Davis. I recently visited with Elizabeth to get a closer look at her journey and to give you a closer look at her journey. Artists, be encouraged. You are doing very important work and though they may not always tell you, the world is watching.
FTW: What have been your greatest challenges pursuing the arts/acting as a Christian? AND, What have been your greatest challenges pursuing the arts/acting as a Christian in New York?
EAD: I have gone through bouts of extreme doubt and confusion in my artistic journey. Trying to understand the juxtaposition of holiness and being an instinctive, reactive artisan who uses empathy as my tool of trade has led me to more than one ‘dark night of the soul.’ Probably the best example of this came in grad school. I almost dropped out when I was presented with a role that flagrantly cursed and was in situations that scared me. After fasting, praying and laying my ‘Isaac’ on the altar, I realized that Jesus was revealing a lot to me about my own legalism in my faith. He was also saying, “Don’t judge this character. I love her, I died for her.” It was still exceedingly difficult to break through and see that God was much more concerned about the people I was around than, as Oswald Chambers would say, maintaining my own “whiteness.” It perhaps seems sophomoric now, but figuring this out in the practical, flesh and blood, day to day happens in shades, gradations. It’s a progressive revelation.
Now, I wouldn’t do that production again. The lesson was learned and I still hate the play. I don’t think God’s lesson to me was to throw my discernment out the window. Therefore, to answer the question more directly, I’ve been most challenged by listening, discerning my own motives back to the Lord, and not feeling compelled to justify the answer I get to His body or my family
Pursuing the arts is difficult enough, but adding the extra component of doing it in NYC was overwhelming at first. I had a professor that used to warn us living in NYC was a full time job, like adding an extra ball to your juggle of life. He was correct. So, I think that the challenge of acclimating to the new demands and ways of life presented for dwelling, transportation, food acquiring, space constraints and seeking quiet and solitude in NYC has been the greatest. Add to that the challenge of carving out community time and fighting the magnetic draw of work a holicism this city buzzes on, and you have a Christian’s ‘good, but not best’ perfect storm. Perhaps not ironically, both my faith and my art grow when I go through the insanity, but then am disciplined to get away and reflect and listen to what the insanity meant.
FTW: Have you ever wanted to throw in the towel?
EAD: Of course! Many times. What we do is dern near crazy. I have 7 years of higher education and zero job security. I have spent nights sobbing on my floor not knowing how I was going to pay my rent only to watch the Lord literally perform a financial miracle the next day. Even still, it will make you wonder if you are not just wasting your time, spinning your wheels and a comfortable 9 to 5 would be a whole lot more sane and reasonable. But great reward comes to those who take great risk, and I don’t know much great art that was ever made in the confines of ‘comfortable.’
FTW: What advice would you give to an aspiring actor or artist who may have recently moved to NYC seeking to establish themselves, pursuing their passions?
EAD: I would suggest they get two resources before they go to a single audition or class. First, read Madeline L’Engle’s “Walking on Water.” It’s reflections on faith and art. I’ve read that book no less than five times and find that when I need a reminder of Who the Ultimate Creative is, I dig in again. Also, get a copy of a lecture and Q & A called “Why Tell Stories” by Tim Keller. I listened to that lecture early on in my time in NYC and had never heard a pastor so highly esteem, through a Biblical lense, the calling of theatre.
After that, I would say never underestimate an opportunity: take the non paying jobs, go to the free seminars on weeknights, meet people and don’t expect a connection to materialize immediately, but treat each one as a gift placed in your path for “such a time a this.” Put relationships first and simultaneously work harder than you think you can.
Thanks so much Elizabeth for taking the time to share a bit of your journey with us all!
For young actors, the road to Broadway is marked with passion, tireless endurance and grit. At least that’s what marked Elizabeth A. Davis’ journey.
In 2006, after graduating with her MFA from the Cleveland Play House, Texas native, Elizabeth A. Davis, drove an 18-foot U-haul into the middle of Time Square and moved in. Literally. The grind that then ensued after has probably sent many aspiring actors home after six months. Not Davis.
Her first job was from 4:30am-10am at Starbucks. The Starbucks bathroom was this star’s first NYC dressing room as she changed in there for her second job at J.W. Cooper where she worked from 11am to 6pm. Changed again in the J.W. Cooper bathroom only to rush off to work for another four to five hours at the Salvation Army Theater for a thankless Off-Off Broadway show. Finally at the close of each day, Davis made it back to her apartment, put her ear plugs in so she wouldn’t be disturbed by the sound of mice running across her floor at night and went to bed. Add being riddled with migraines to that grueling schedule and you’ve got Elizabeth Davis’ welcome party to New York City.
A few short years ago, Elizabeth found herself in Bryant Park one day, playing her violin, hoping people would give her a little money. Yesterday she found herself on the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater playing her violin on the Late Show with David Letterman with her cast from the Broadway Musical, Once
How did she do it? How do other actors do it? How do you make it from the street corners in Bryant Park to Broadway? Perhaps a little insight from a biographical play that Davis wrote and performed in her college town back in February will be insightful.
I’ve learned that in this business, in this life, you do the work that has dignity, that brings you deep joy and satisfaction and at the end of the day, if it hasn’t made you a rich woman. Oh well. Better to be filled up on the inside than be running on fumes in your soul and justify it by pointing to a fat 401K. I’m learning that my money has started coming, slowly and surely, but it’s shy. It likes to make sure that I’m sold out no matter what to the work I know God has equipped me for. Then, nothing can stop the bounty that unloads on a soul in the middle of their calling. Of course we aren’t the ones to determine the face of that bounty, and it comes in many different forms, but thriving seems to follow sacrifice. Of course sorrow and suffering follow us all, too. We never know what a day may bring. But may we all take courage tonight, regardless of your calling or whatever work you bring dignity to, in the wise words of my adopted Grandmother from Cleveland: Miss Ethel. She would say to me: “Child, you gotta take what you got and make what you want.”
For Davis, Broadway is not so much the destination as it is part of the journey. She continues her art in other ways. Check out below the creative new internet series Underground Sound that Elizabeth is spearheading.
I want you to know Elizabeth A. Davis. Close friends know her as Elizabeth Richard, the the beloved wife of Jordan Richard. If you are a Christian, pray for her as she seeks to shine the light and love of Jesus brighter than the lights of Broadway for everyone around her to see. She and other Christians in the arts need and deserve our encouragement.
Once, the Broadway Musical is amazing. Susan and I have seen it twice, and all I’ve got to say is watch out Wicked! Seriously, there is nothing like Once. And Underground Sound looks like its got the stuff to go viral. But my favorite art that Elizabeth creates is on Sunday mornings when she plays with our worship team at Gallery Church. Worship with an audience of one.
A little advice for emerging artists from Elizabeth Davis tomorrow but until then, you can follower her on twitter.
John Piper once said, “Books don’t change lives, sentences do.” I agree with Piper. However, Michael Kelly’s new book, Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal, has so many life changing sentences that it must be said “this book will change your life.” It changed mine. Admittedly, I do not read most books all the way through. Many authors are required a word count by the publisher that ends up diluting their message and thus not holding one’s attention for a full read. Others simply do not have many life changing things to say. Michael Kelly is an exception. Michael has lived and fought through one of my worst fears as a parent having watched his son suffer with leukemia. My own personal fears dissolved as I read about Michael and Jana fighting through the physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion that comes through having a small child suffer with leukemia. I was strengthened as I read about them finding hope in God amidst their heartache. While Michael’s experience is not too uncommon, his ability to tell his story is. I was surprised at how he was able to challenge his readers while at the same time demonstrating his own weaknesses with much vulnerability. Not only is this book a captivating and convicting gift of hope it is also practically instructional. I’ve always heard about the well intentioned yet ineffective ways to comfort people when in suffering and I’ve earnestly sought to avoid those attempts. What I haven’t had is good instruction on practical and effective ways to comfort people in their suffering. Michael instruction is helpful and freeing. His story illustrates practical ways to comfort those suffering. My favorite example was his friends who watched baseball and ate ballpark food with them in the waiting room at the hospital. His instruction was also freeing in that I was reminded that everyone suffering must wrestle with God in some capacity. The comfort we provide is secondary to God’s sustaining grace and comfort. I cannot recommend Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal high enough. This is a must read for everyone. I plan on reading it again and anticipate this will be a book that I will come back to often. Thank you Michael for this gift. Thank you for telling your story and challenging us all with it! Buy your copy today and start reading! Or you can take your chances as I’m giving away a copy on twitter later today. Follow me @freddyt.
One Sunday night a couple of months ago, Brandon Moore and I took a cab home not preparing to be broken by the time we reached our destination. Vadim was our driver. He had black thick hair, a several days old shaddow, a thick accent and a good bit better than broken English. Our conversation developed naturally as I asked general get-to-know-you questions. We learned that Vadim was divorced and had been living alone in Brooklyn for many years. Immediately my heart leaned toward him in compassion as I tried to put myself in his shoes. I had no idea how impossible it was actually going to be to put myself in Vadim’s shoes. He was born in Russia but has no desire to return. Oddly, I don’t remember exactly how we began to talk about Jesus; it was that natural. He asked a few questions and the door was wide open to share the gospel. I probably shared for about 4-5 minutes. I could tell he was listening intently. As I finished, Vadim asked a tough question about where God is in the midst of suffering. He interrupted my attempt to respond and began to passionately tell his story as an orphan in Russia. As Vadim shared, I thought about Dr. Russell Moore’s stories from adopting in Russia. Vadim’s passion intensified as he told about being alone, hungry and beaten in an orphanage. “Where was God, when I was abandoned, hungry and being beaten?” Though I had an opportunity to share about the responsibility of God’s people and a little about the Moore’s adoption, Vadim was now unleashing his bitterness without reservation. His intensity continued to rise and there was no longer a conversation. It felt like we were hearing years of pent up pain and bitterness. By the time we arrived at our Harlem apartment Vadim was flabbergasted and refused to talk any more. My words felt empty. A cab ride of compassion was only enough to unearth his pain. It didn’t even begin to address it. Maybe Vadim is your neighbor. If so, he desperately needs you. If so, he desperately needs Jesus. May God help us invest the time, energy and affection it requires to touch Vadim with the love of our Father.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
The High Line Park in Chelsea makes this New Yorker Happy. If you haven’t experienced it, you are missing out. I am looking forward to the weather breaking because I’ll be taking the whole Wyatt clan up to the High Line for some Spring time fun. Check out this sneak peak of Section 2 of the High Line.
Track the latest happenings at the High Line here on twitter.
Where do I begin? Last summer 20 people crammed into our apartment to brainstorm the things we need to begin to pray for as a church. It wasn’t that we didn’t know what to pray for – the Sacred Scriptures sufficiently informs our prayers. We were however looking for summary statements that reflected the Sacred Scriptures as a whole and were yet contextually shaped and Gallery Church specific. We weren’t making an exhaustive list, but rather a church-wide focus for a season. Out of this evening grew the sermon series “7 Things” that highlighted 7 focused prayers that our church would begin to pray over the next year. One of the 7 prayers is,
God grant us local and global influence through divine appointments, for the good of people and the glory of Your name.
It has been tremendously exciting how we’ve begun to see God answer these prayers. Consider just a few:
Aaron Coe has just recently been named the new Vice President for Mobilization at the North American Mission Board. God has taken Aaron’s SendNYC vision and strategy and given it a nation wide platform through NAMB. Read more about how we’ll now see the SendNYC strategy implemented on a national level.
Gallery Church faithful Neil Brown has gained a voice in influential places lately one of which is Yale. Check out the panel that Neil participated on at Yale recently. (You’ll find the write up by clicking on the calendar to 2/12/11.)
Pray for Aaron, Neil and Elizabeth. Pray that they would be good stewards of the platforms God is giving them and that their influence would indeed redound to the good of people and the glory of God.
These are just snapshots. They do not tell the whole story. Much of the local influence God is giving us is with people who have nothing to give back and in areas that no one else knows about but Jesus, yet we are rejoicing as He answers our prayers.
Would you pass this on as broadly as you are able…all for the glory of Jesus among the nations in NYC! So grateful.
New York City’s national and global impact continue to amaze me. It is particularly encouraging when people of the Gallery Church are involved in making national or global impact. PJ Herring works for the increasingly well known non-profit charity: water, whose mission is to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. Just this week, President Barack Obama noted the great work that charity: water is doing and commended the faith that is fueling their work. is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.
Not everyone in New York City is pursuing fame and wealth at all costs. Some are pursuing mercy for the least of these and it is refreshing to the soul. You know, kind of like a cup of clean water on a very hot and dry day.
New York City is filled with millions of people. Moving through the maze of millions is exhilarating and at times exhausting. One thing that is very easy for Christian New Yorkers to forget is that every individual has a story. Lately, I have had some very special opportunities to hear people’s stories…in cabs. Not only have I had opportunities to hear their stories, but I’ve been able to share with them story of Jesus. I never cease to be amazed at what I learn and experience in these conversations. I want to share these conversations with you so you can see how easy and exciting it is to share Jesus with the nations in New York City in a weekly cab ride. I typically take 2-3 cabs a week. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. Check in often for most up to date Cab Chronicle.
Allen picked me up on Great Jones street on Friday. He took a couple of bad turns that got us headed totally in the wrong direction. I’m glad I didn’t get angry. He began to drop his first few F-bombs of what would be about 15 before we were done.
“Man I really F%#ed You” is what he kept saying. He said all the snow in the streets really made him nervous. I do not remember exactly how I began to learn about the divorce he was going through, or about his mom that was sick and his recent move into her apartment. I’m pretty good at 20 questions, so I usually just start in and the spiritual questions do not seem too out of place after I’ve asked 10 other life questions. It may not be the best approach for everyone but I’ve got a real knack for it. I began to share Jesus with Allen and when I told him that Jesus died for him, he excitedly said, “I know! And He died for you too. I know this.” “How do you know about Jesus?” I asked. “A lady who rode in my cab 2 weeks ago told me about him. She works at NYU. She gave me a little booklet that told me about Jesus too.” As he indicated that he had read the booklet. As we continued to talk, he asked me if I knew this woman as though we were the only two Christians in NYC. He was surprised She and I didn’t work together. “What else can you tell me about Jesus?” he asked.
I stuttered around for just a second trying to figure out, “do I just tell this guy to drive around the whole island for an hour and pay him $100 so I can secure time to talk to him?” That is what I wish I had done. He was incredibly eager to hear more. I told him I was a follower of Jesus and a Pastor, and explained the gospel and as much about Jesus as I could in about 5 minutes. He dropped me back off at the Salt Space. I ran up and brought him a bible and an invite card to the Gallery Church.
I was the second person ever to tell Allen about Jesus and he wanted to hear more.
I first heard John Piper preach, and first read a few of his books in 1998. His sermons and books became and still are water for my soul. Piper’s personal ministry (which is really the overflow of his preaching ministry) is Desiring God. Desiring God recently began to interview pastors and I really enjoyed this one of Tim Keller. Keller planted Redeemer Presbyterian Church here in Manhattan 21 years ago. Most young planters like myself have gleaned much wisdom from Keller. Enjoy the interview.
As a pastor, I’m called to equip our congregation for the work of the ministry and to unleash them to use their gifts to build up the church and engage New York City with the love and message of Jesus Christ. Pride, poor equipping, and host of other things can hinder this unleashing. However, when this unleashing takes place, the love and message of Jesus infiltrates brand new sometimes hard to reach places. Sometimes that hard to reach place is the heart of a hardened and abused prostitute outside of a hotel in Vietnam. Other times the hard to reach place is the misunderstood emerging art communities in New York City. By God’s grace, the gospel is being unleashed in unlikely places through the people of the Gallery Church. As ESPN.com featured:
‘Whoever would be great among you must be your servant’ is the way Jesus said it. ‘Consistency creates credibility’ is the way Neil Brown said it. The people of the Gallery Church are being unleashed in greatness and as they consistently serve the people of New York City and as they are creating credibility, Jesus is gaining a really great reputation in our neighborhood. Rejoice with us in the traction God is giving us in the world. Pray that we steward this traction in a way that makes Him really happy.
Every couple of months I have someone sit down with me in my office that is either frustrated, burned out, not being fed, or hurting deeply from a wound dealt by another church member. These feelings are usually valid and are always cared about by God and the broader church family. However, people are often torn about what to do or how exactly how to respond to their feelings. Admittedly, the intensity of our feelings often cloud our judgment and ability to see what is truly at stake. The temptation to start fresh somewhere else is particularly present in these moments BUT, we must remember that the reputation of Jesus among our roommates, co-workers, and neighbors is at stake in how we respond. To bail when the going gets tough, belittles the power of God and His gospel to a watching world. Simply put, the Glory of God is at stake precisely when it is most difficult to persevere through difficulty in a local church community. Excitingly so, the gospel we preach becomes curiously attractive to the world when the lives we live are under-girded by its power (1Peter 3:15). It is not easy to persevere. It is a cross to bear. Every day. Jesus understands. He didn’t want to bear his cross, but He desired the Father to be glorified even more (Luke 22:42) and thus endured His own cross with joy (Hebrews 12:2). God knows every frustration, disappointment and pain you will encounter in your church community in 2011. Some of them are going to absolutely floor you. Jesus understands. Jesus has shown you the way of perseverance. Jesus will empower you through His Spirit. All for the Father’s greater glory!
For further meditation on similar ideas, check out this article by Bonnie McMaken.
You may have read the first 25 ways we posted. Well, here is another 21 ways. This time Nathan Tubbs compiled this list from people in the Gallery Church. Some of these may be NYC sensitive but most you could probably apply or adjust to be effective in your context. 2011 is staring us in the face, the greater glory of God at stake, an eternity in heaven or hell hangs in the balance. Let’s do it!
1. Camp out in lines for free stuff (Tickets to shows, giveaways, etc.).
2. Go into the bank instead of using the ATM.
3. Go to the library weekly and talk to the librarians.
4. Get to know local shop owners.
5. Sit on your stoop and talk to the neighbors.
6. Play in the local parks.
7. Watch people play sports, talk to the spectators, or join a local sports league.
8. Talk to people at the Laundromat while waiting on your laundry.
9. Take continuing education classes, dance classes, etc., or teach such classes in your community.
10. Pray for people on the subways.
11. Share tables at crowded cafés and parks.
12. Help people with luggage/strollers, etc.
13. Invite people to events/activities (bowling, music shows, coffee, dinner, etc).
14. Offer to share a cab.
15. Adopt children or become a foster parent.
16. Provide homeless people with a meal and engage in conversation with them.
17. Build relationships with International students.
18. Use your hobbies to find fellowship opportunities.
19. Find your “captive audiences” (doormen, baristas, bartenders etc.)
20. Form play groups with other moms, kids, etc.
21. Learn people’s names as you speak with them.
Imagine with me 30 years from today. Many of you will be closing in on 60. I’ll be 62. Jack will be 33 and Lillie and Elliott will almost be 32. Maybe you will be settled down in Florida, Texas, Tennessee or who knows, maybe even Chelsea. 30 years from today, we will have lived a lot of life and we’ll probably often reflect upon the past, the decisions we will have made, the path we will have walked and the faithfulness of God that abided every step of the way.
The Gallery Church will be about 35 years old and you will be considered someone who laid the foundation for this church. Whether you like it or not when you are a member of a church in its first 5 to 10 years, you are a foundation layer, a charter member of sorts. What do you think the Gallery Church will be like 30 years from today? It is sobering yet exhilarating to think that we hold the answer to that question in how we live as the church today. The strength, vitality, and health of the Gallery Church 30 years from today will in large measure depend upon the kind of foundation we lay together during this window of time.
Now imagine with me, your future children moving to the city in their young twenties. Imagine the opportunity you will have to introduce them to the city you used to live in and to the church you used to attend. What will you find? What will the Gallery Church be like in 30 years? Again, the answer depends on what kind of foundation we are laying today. So throw off whatever is hindering you from following Jesus and laboring to see a thriving church established that the next generation will benefit from.
Life is short. The church is worth it. Leave a legacy.
(photo by Joe Garrad)
Have you met the new staff @ The Gallery Church? Last week I ventured upstate for an overnight retreat with the 5 other people that make up our Gallery Church staff team. I’d like for you to meet them.
Kelly Flaherty is my new assistant and is currently working with us 20 hours a week. She moved from Ohio to NYC a few years back. Kelly has a contagious positive attitude and is ferociously organized. Be sure to connect with Kelly.
Chris Mills is our new Worship Director logging in an official 10 hours a week and probably volunteers another 10 hours. Mills has a compassionate pastoral heart and jovial personality. In addition to giving direction to our worship ministry, he’s also seeking to start a Young Life Club in the Chelsea neighborhood right around the Salt Space. Be sure to follow Chris on twitter and check out his blog.
Jen Brown, graphic designer extraordinaire continues to serve as the Director of the Salt Space. She gave up a full time job working @ Lucky to spearhead the Salt Space team. Drop her a tweet today if you are interested in being a part of the Salt Space team and while you wait for her reply, check out her killer graphic design work.
Brandon Moore moved from Tennessee just weeks ago to serve as our Business Administrator. Brandon brings to our team impeccable character, rare pastoral acumen, and a work ethic we’d all be wise to imitate. He is officially employed by the Gallery Church through an internship program with the North American Mission Board. Brandon has committed to serving with us for two years and is pursuing as Masters of Divinity @ SBTS’s NYC Extension Center. He is preaching tomorrow in both gatherings so pray for him if you are reading this in time. Be sure to follow him on twitter and check out his blog.
Leann Boyd is volunteering for a short stint as our new Gallery Kid Director and she has all the Mom’s raving about the job she is doing. Leann is a former art teacher in the public school system and continues to engage the arts through initiatives like Pop-Up Art Studio which will be having an upcoming show @ the Salt Space. A phenom theologian, faithful wife, and tender mother, Leann is some good stuff and we are glad to have her on the team. Her blog posts though few in number, are worth tuning in for.
Our overnight retreat upstate was fantastic. Joe Garrad’s parents hosted us with warm hospitality at their quiet home in Patterson, NY. Together we discussed a book that we had been reading, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I highly recommend it for teams. Our discussion was lively and this book helped us get started on the right foot as a team. Please pray for your new staff, that God would establish the work of their hands to the glory of His name.
Regret is a wonderful thing to avoid.
Last Sunday was a rich Sunday. I came in pretty spent from a wonderful and worshipful weekend. My message was on relating to the city. I sought to help our people understand how significant NYC is in God’s global purposes. Secondly I challenged those present to consider staying in NYC longer than they had planned, to continue to shine light in the darkness propelling the church in the city forward. Two statements that I asked those present to finish have seemed to get a little more traction that I anticipated. They were,
“I came to New York City to (or because) __________________.”
“God brought me to New York City to (or because) __________________.”
Have you grappled with these two statements any? Could it be that God has global and eternal purposes for bringing you to the city that never sleeps? Could it be that His ways and His thoughts are higher than ours? Wrestle with this reality today. Engage in God’s mission of sharing the love and message of Jesus with your neighbors today. Resolve to never look back on your time in New York City with spiritual regret.
Last week was a very special week in the life of the Gallery Church. Mark and Becky Gebel have been at the Gallery Church since it began. They met one another and forged a very special relationship that culminated in their marriage last weekend. Mark and Becky were married under the Brooklyn Bridge. I had the privilege to officiate the vows and all present had the privilege of hearing Caleb Clardy (former teaching pastor @ The Gallery, now planting pastor of Trinity Grace Park Slope) give Mark and Becky an amazing charge. The weather cooperated and it was a magnificent day. As the evening unfolded a sweet spirit of celebration pervaded the reception that was held at the Salt Space. Mark and Becky were all smiles as their friends danced the night away. Rarely, am I out on Saturday nights, and never am I out late on Saturday nights, but I found myself thankful to be cleaning up the Salt Space into the early morning. I was thankful for Mark and Becky, and their faithful service to the Gallery.
It is a beautiful thing in the life of a church when your friends who are choice servants of the King get married. It is a beautiful thing, indeed.
My good friend and mentor Phil Auxier recently pointed us to some great resources on the church. I love it! Check it out. He wrote…
I would highly recommend your listening to Kevin DeYoung’s sermon from Next entitled “The Church.” Here’s a summary from C.J. that came across my feed reader recently:
To close out his Next 2010 conference message, “The Church,” Kevin DeYoung gave a list of suggestions for how to be a difference maker in the local church. He said:
• Find a good local church.
• Get involved.
• Become a member.
• Stay there as long as you can.
• Put away thoughts of a revolution for a while.
• Join the plodding visionaries.
• Go to church this Sunday and worship in Spirit and truth.
• Be patient with your leaders.
• Rejoice when the gospel is faithfully proclaimed.
• Bear with those who hurt you.
• Give people the benefit of the doubt.
• Say “hi” to the teenager that no one notices.
• Welcome the old ladies with the blue hair and the young men with tattoos.
• Volunteer for the nursery.
• Attend the congregational meeting.
• Bring your fried chicken to the potluck like everybody else.
• Invite a friend.
• Take a new couple out for coffee.
• Give to the Christmas offering.
• Sing like you mean it.
• Be thankful someone vacuumed the carpet for you.
• Enjoy the Sundays that “click.”
• Pray extra hard on the Sundays that don’t.
• And in all of this, do not despise the days and weeks and years of small things (Zechariah 4:8–10).
I cannot recommend this message too highly. Please take time to download and listen to “The Church” by visiting the resource page at thisisnext.org. I would whole-heartedly agree. Many times when people listen to or give a message on the church, it can seem like a rah-rah message at how people need to do what their pastors say. But this message is very even-handed showing that even weak leaders need followers who are interested in bigger things than their own shallow, capricious ideals. This is the stunning reality we see in Scripture about Jesus’ bride, the church. Listen, be profitable and glorify God.
Thanks Phil for pointing us to these resources!
Hopefully you have had a chance to meet Nathan and Leslie Tubbs by now. They have been coming to the Gallery for some time now. For nearly two years they have been intentionally engaging the neighborhood of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn with plans to plant a church in Bay Ridge. We so stoked about sending them out of the Gallery sometime in the future. I don’t know anyone who has engaged a neighborhood with greater intentionality than Nathan and Leslie. I recently Nathan to give me a list of 25 ways to engage our community. Read below and be inspired! (BTW, any moment/day now Nathan and Leslie will have their first child. Say a prayer for them today!)
- Volunteer in your community. For us, that means teaching ESL to immigrants in our neighborhood.
- Join a book club. You never know when books might allude to the gospel story.
- Go to the park and start a game of kickball or ultimate Frisbee. Invite others to join you. Moms, take some sidewalk chalk and have your kids share with others in the park. Use these activities to get to know your neighbors.
- Join a gym. Go often and don’t rely too much on your iPod. Rather take the opportunity to get to know other members and the people working the front desk.
- Get ready for work at the gym. As strange as it sounds, locker rooms are great places for starting a conversation.
- Get a hobby and then find others in the community who enjoy that hobby. For me, it means visiting the comic book store each week and talking with the employees and customers about the latest happenings in Batman.
- Offer to shovel snow for your neighbors.
- Bake a cake, pie, or cookies for your neighbors. This is especially great around holidays, when people are more receptive to receive gifts.
- Do your laundry at the same time each week. People are creatures of habit, and you will more than likely see the same people each week. Also, don’t avoid times when the laundry room will be crowded – you want to engage people!
- When you go to a restaurant, if possible sit at the bar rather than a booth or a table. People will not walk up to a random table and start a conversation, but almost anyone will talk to you if you are sitting at the bar – especially the bartender.
- Concerning restaurants, find one you like and that is within your budget and eat there frequently. Get to know the servers and managers. When friends or family visit, take them there and introduce them to everyone you know.
- Shop locally. Rather than making purchases online, visit locally owned stores, and get to know the owners and/or employees.
- After you get to know people in local businesses, stop in the store to say “hello,” even if you are not going to buy anything. Let them know you are more than a customer; you are a friend.
- When you begin to make friends in the local businesses and restaurants, support your new friends. For example, if you have a friend who is an actor, try to attend at least one performance of any play in which he or she has a role.
- If you commute to work by bus, try to catch the same bus each day. If possible, attempt to engage people in conversation while waiting on the bus.
- Ladies: Go to the hair salon! Get a mani-pedi! Do these as often as possible, and frequent the same place and use the same stylist. Get to know them and share your life with them.
- If your colleagues decide to go out after work on Friday, regardless of how tired you may be, go out with them, even if for only a short time. Spend this time getting to know them outside of work.
- Pray for your friends, and tell them that you pray for them.
- Take a few hours one day a month and pick up trash in your neighborhood. People will take notice and will want to know why you would do such a thing.
- When you go to McDonald’s (or other fast-food restaurant), look around and see if you notice any homeless people. If so, buy an extra burger and give it to them in Jesus’ name.
- If you have neighbors with health problems or disabilities, offer to pick up items for them when you go to the grocery store.
- If someone seems lost, stop and offer to help them find their way to where they are going.
- Use holidays such as Christmas and Easter as opportunities to share the gospel. During these times, people are especially receptive to give gifts. Offer a candy-cane or chocolate egg with a card that contains a verse from the Bible. Also be prepared to share when people ask, “Why do you celebrate____?”
- Prayerwalk. As you walk around your neighborhood, take notice of needs and pray for them.
- Become a part of the community. Attend community events (i.e. concerts in the park, street festivals, block parties, town hall meetings, etc.) and meet your neighbors.
What would you add to Nathan’s list?
Have you ever imagined what it would it be like to make a home and raise your kids in New York City? What do you think would be the greatest benefits? What about the greatest challenges?
Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, recently gave a talk on raising kids in the city. His talk has been a huge encouragement to Susan and me as we lead our family of five in the city and think through its long-term challenges and blessings.
The thesis of Keller’s talk is that on the whole, cities are better places to raise kids, and the city actually helps you raise your children. This is the first in a series of posts in which I hope to engage and highlight Keller’s points from his talk, “It Takes a City to Raise a Child.” Even if you are not yet married — or are but do not have kids — this series is worth your time as you consider two things: 1) How you may be inspired to dream or compelled to plan, and 2) How you can assist and encourage families who are living in the city.
Keller begins his talk highlighting what he calls three cons to raising kids in the city. He’s spot on when he notes that money is one of the greatest challenges to raising kids in the city. He said that people in his church tell him that at least 15% can be saved on rent and taxes alone simply by moving across the river. I’ll never forget when I first heard what some of our friends paid to rent their NYC apartments. I thought $2,800 or more a month was crazy, and while much of my opinion was rooted in ignorance, no one can deny the sticker shock at what it costs to live in NYC. I continued to think paying so much for so little was just short of insane until God led us to NYC. Slowly, the insanity simply became what you did if you live here.
Just getting into an NYC apartment is financially daunting. Because we were about to have three kids under three, we needed an apartment that Susan could easily get our triple stroller in and out of. We also needed to be in close proximity to our Sunday morning worship gathering. This landed us in a one-bedroom apartment in the Upper West Side that rented for $2,995 a month. It came with a broker’s fee for the same amount and two month’s rent for a security deposit. It took nearly every penny we had just to get into the apartment. A month after moving in, my friend informed me that my super and every doorman and porter in my building would be expecting a nice money gift for Christmas from the tenants. People with no kids that live in the city know this experience all too well. What they are not so intimately familiar with are the expenses of diapers, formula, and clothes for your constantly growing children.
Keller is correct. Money is a huge challenge to living in the city, but as we’ll see he argues it is a better place to raise kids. You can read one brief take on what would compel a family to make this kind of investment to live in New York City. What do you think? Is this kind of investment worth it? If you moved from somewhere else to live in NYC, what was the most unexpected expense?
Stay tuned to see what Keller’s next city living cons are.
This looks like a good book by Tripp coming out in May.
Churches are not made that men of ready speech may stand up on Sundays and talk, and so win daily bread from their admirers. No, there is another end and aim for this. These places of worship are not built that you may sit comfortably and hear something that shall make you pass away your Sundays with pleasure. A church which does not exist to do good in the slums, and dens, and kennels of the city, is a church that has no reason to justify its longer existing.
- Charles Spurgeon in Christ’s Words from the Cross
(HT: Denny Burk)
Words are mysteriously powerful. Instilling hope, healing a hurt or creating one, words have more power than we often realize. When the right words are spoken by the right person our lives can be interrupted even transformed for the good. The four gospels record a wealth of the stunning words spoken by Jesus Christ. Was He Lord or a lunatic? Just a good teacher or the Son of God? Examine with us some of these surprising words of Jesus in our sermon series simply titled “Words.” Ten weeks of “Words” begin March 28th.
Over the last six months God has been renewing my vision and commitment for disciple making. Small group retreats are one of the environments I look forward to seeing the Gallery Family meet with God through as He molds us into His faithful followers.
At 7pm this past Friday night 11 men thirsty for God left New York City and headed for North Wildwood Island along the Jersey shore. We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. The road trip, weather, sonic pit stop, the study, whiffle ball on the beach, powerful prayer times…it felt like a perfect weekend.
Desiring God by Dr. John Piper was our meal. Piper’s renowned work is meaty indeed. Friday night we read the preface out loud together and prayed to whet our appetites and prepare our hearts for the next morning. Before breakfast on Saturday each man was to read through the introduction which we discussed over breakfast and into the morning. Then about 10:45 am we really began to dig in. Each dude had one chapter he was to read and master. He was to summarize the chapter and come back and teach it to the rest of the group. For most of the men present, it was the first Piper they had read. Needless to say many of their heads are still spinning. But Piper wasn’t the hero of the weekend, Jesus was. Piper led us to the fountain that satisfies our souls. Piper pointed the way to feast upon the bread of life, and feast we did. I’m grateful for what God is doing in our church and this weekend was a small stride in becoming the kind of church God is molding us into.
If you went on the men’s retreat or recent womens’ retreat, how did God speak to you. How did He impact your life during the weekend? For others, why do you think retreat environments can be so powerful? Is there a retreat that you still remember God working in your life through?
(photo by Joe Garrad)
(Special Guest Blogger Nathan Tubbs)
Many times, we Christ-followers can easily get caught-up in celebrating holidays in the manner that the world has approved. We buy endless amounts of presents, we host egg-hunts, and we wear green in order to avoid being pinched. While we succeed in celebrating, we fail in using these celebrations as outreach. What we tend to forget is that holidays offer perfect opportunities for us to share our faith with non-believers. As many people walked the streets of my neighborhood last night, clad in green, with a drink in hand, I wondered how many of them even knew why we celebrate the life of Patrick.
Therefore, I was determined to rebel against this status quo. Although there is nothing wrong with attending parades or parties, I felt led to do more. So, last night, as I taught an ESL class filled with immigrants from countries that lack gospel-access, I taught about the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. The new vocabulary words my students learned last night did include words such as leprechaun, pot of gold, green, parade, and lucky charms. However, the contemporary celebration of the holiday was not our only focus. They learned several other new words including missionary, church, saint, holy, slave, and Christian as I told them of his time as a slave, his conversion, his desire to follow Christ’s leading, and his eventual mission to Ireland that resulted in the conversion of almost an entire nation. My students left class knowing that we were not celebrating a story of tiny green men who grant three wishes and hide pots of gold, but we were celebrating a life that was profoundly changed by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.
In a few weeks, we will celebrate Easter. While we will have opportunities to attend egg hunts and eat tons of candy, we will have an even greater opportunity – to share Jesus with our friends and neighbors. Many of those around us have never heard the true story of Easter. Take the time to share it with them. Invite them to worship with you on Easter Sunday, or share with them in conversation about why you enjoy the holiday. Whatever you do, don’t waste the opportunity to share of God’s grace.
(Nathan & his wife Leslie are seeking to plant a church in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn.)
At the age of 16, Saint Patrick was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland where he became a slave to the chieftain of Ulster. One night, after six years of slavery, Saint Patrick heard a voice, “Behold, thy ship is ready.” He traveled two hundred miles on foot to a place where he knew no one and had never been. He wrote in his autobiographical account, “After this I took flight, and left the man with whom I had been six years; and I came in the strength of the Lord, who directed my way for good; and I feared nothing till I arrived at the ship. And on that same day on which I arrived, the ship moved out of its place.”
Patrick made his way back to Britain, found his family, and could have lived out the rest of his life in relative comfort in the land of freedom. But in 432 AD, he had another vision. He saw a man coming to him from Ireland carrying innumerable letters. “And I read the beginning of the letter containing ‘The voice of the Irish.’ And while I was reading aloud the beginning of the letters, I myself thought indeed in my mind that I heard the voice of those who were near the wood of Foclut, which is close by the Western Sea. And they cried out thus as if with one voice, “We entreat thee, holy youth, that thou come, and henceforth walk among us.” And I was deeply moved in my heart, and could read no further; and so I woke.”
Saint Patrick went back to Ireland as a missionary. No outside religion had penetrated Ireland in a thousand years. Saint Patrick founded more than 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000 people. His ministry was so influential that he came to be known as the one who “found Ireland all heathen and left it all Christian.”
(Via Michael Kelley)
Jesus came not to angrily strip away our freedom but to affectionately strip away our slavery to lesser things so we might become truly free.
- Tullian Tchividjian