Story 4: Asking the Right Questions
What might I, a white Midwestern Christian heterosexual male, (the very antithesis of intersectionality) have to say about planting a church in the borough of churches, Brooklyn, New York, one of the most diverse places in the world?
The last thing we want with church planting is to have a short-term missions trip mindset of…
- Descend on a geographical area
- Drop the spiritual mic thinking we as outsiders know what’s best for that specific people group
- Retreat back to our enclaves where it’s safe, easy, and comfortable.
…How do we live incarnational lives of humility and authentic community as agents of reconciliation and redemption in a bruised, busted up world?
I was once part of a church plant that was also focused on a specific geographic neighborhood (in Minneapolis) and they were obsessed with asking two questions:
What is God up to?
How can we join Him in the work He’s already doing?
These two questions, especially for a new church, are key. It takes the power out of our hands. It diminishes the idea that we might have the answers or know what’s best, especially for a community we are still just getting to know and a congregation who’ve made this borough their home for longer than some of us have been alive. It changes the posture from enforcing and implementing, to listening.
That’s our primary roll starting a church like Hope Brooklyn and moving forward from here…
…To God, to the community, and to how God is already working in the community and has been well before we ever thought of landing here or God planted the dream or desire in our hearts.
We don’t know the nuances of need in the community. So we listen to our neighbors.
We don’t know the intricacies of what God is up to in the community. So we listen to it’s stories.
We’re not in Brooklyn by accident;
A place where born-and-bred Brooklynites live and work and recreate, and young transplanted working professionals and creatives are reinventing this borough as they make it their new home.
What is God up to in Brooklyn, and how can we partner with Him?
We’re not at PS 261, Philip Livingston School by accident;
A place where hundreds of children, staff, faculty, custodians, and social workers enter, teach, learn, interact, grow and are challenged every day.
What is God up to at PS 261, and how can we partner with Him?
We’re not bringing God to Brooklyn. God has been around here for quite a while now. Our job is to have our feet on the ground, meet people on the level, look them in the eye, ask them to tell their story, and listen.
Just maybe, we’ll hear not only some incredible stories and learn some valuable lessons, but we also might hear the whisperings of what God might be up to, and has been for some time, and how we can join Him.