Reach New York, reach the world...
What do you think of when you think of NYC? The incredible skyline, hoards of people, 9/11, Wall Street, Times Square, sports, fashion, television, Broadway, your favorite movies?
Whatever you think about New York, it represents only a slice of life here. While it is not difficult to find a headline where you can learn something about “NYC” that is true somewhere, the reality is that this same information will be untrue somewhere else in NYC.
The New York City Metro Area encompasses parts of 3 states (NY, NJ and CT) and 26 counties, connected by rail lines and highways used daily by commuters. NYC’s five boroughs are almost all islands, and Northern New Jersey is home to the six largest cities in the U.S.’s most densely-populated state. This metro area is a matrix of cities, from the Hamptons to Princeton and from the Jersey Shore to Stamford, CT. More than 400 distinct neighborhoods have their own names in New York City. In all 22 million persons call the NYC Metro Area their home, including 8.2 million in New York City, approximately 6 million in Northern New Jersey, and 3 million in Long Island’s 2 counties east of NYC.
Virtually every nation under the sun is represented in the NYC Metro, where more than 500 people groups live and over 800 languages are spoken. While almost all speak at least some English, approximately 60-65% of all residents were born somewhere else or are the children of recent immigrants. Metro New York is an international, cosmopolitan, globalized urban center. Because NYC/NJ/CT/LI are so diverse, you can find almost every conceivable context for church planting here, from the epitome of inner-city or international to communities that are largely rural and much less diverse ethnically—and everything in between. Generally speaking “New Yorkers” are busy—stretched for time and driven to survive and thrive in a high-pace, high-cost, demanding environment.
The Spiritual Context
Less than 4% of those living in NYC/NJ/CT/LI attend a Reformed or Evangelical church, in most cases. Taken together, the unreached people groups comprised of 2 million Jews, 1.6 million Russian-speakers, 500,000 Chinese, 800,000 Muslims and 400,000 Hindus alone would equal the second-largest U.S. city.
Church planting is on the rise here, however. Recent research has revealed that 40% of Evangelical churches existing today in center city New York were planted since 2001. What is more, evangelical adherence has grown from less than 1% to greater than 3% over the last 25 years. This is largely the result of church planting by various denominations, churches and networks. Many new churches—everywhere and of every sort—are needed, however, as most remain geographically, culturally, or otherwise beyond the reach of an intelligible, contextually suitable Gospel witness.
According to a recent study in The Atlantic, the New York City Metro is the most influential urban center in the world. Igniting a Gospel movement in NYC and amongst next-generation Americans holds the potential for influencing every American, every global city, and every other nation, language, tribe and tongue. The latent, unrealized potential for the Kingdom of God in Metro NYC will be realized, in part, by the planting of new, Gospel-centered churches here.