We are very excited about our progress as an early stage church plant for the artistic community in NYC (a wide group including those who love and support the arts). The big event this summer, that God has opened the doors of through my wonderful and growing relationship with Tony Jones, is that Brian McLaren is coming this Monday (Aug. 15th) to speak at the final meeting of our summer series. Tony has further blessed us by mentioning it on the emergent-us blog and their email newsletter Emergent/C which popped into my inbox today.
This summer series has been an opportunity to ignite a dialog here in the city of important issues facing the church, from a generally emergent perspective, and to give some momentum to our church plant by drawing others to help us, and to hopefully gain a "start team" by the end of the summer. We assembled a panel of eight up and coming ministry leaders here in NYC to guide us through a weekly dialog on a different topic each week. It's been a wonderful process, the highlight of which has been the chance for these different leaders to get to know each other and build future unity in the body of Christ here in NYC. There were only two of us who were "deeply emergent", you might say, and so it was great to both hear other perspectives and allow them to become more aware of the emergent conversation. It was also great to just be able to hear what the members of the audience thought as they dialoged - to get outside of the circle of professional leaders and hear the people!
Now we are busy preparing for Brian's arrival, and the word is getting out, so we anticipate a great meeting. What we hope for in particular with this meeting is to draw out emergent people who are in the city but unconnected to one another. We hope some of them might want to help us plant this church. We have also been trying to let other bloggers know about it, in case they have NYC contacts who are friends or read their blog who might be excited to know Brian is coming, and that an emergent church is being planted here in NYC.
The next step is that we will begin meeting as a start team in September every Sunday afternoon, and begin to become a little body, that does the hard work of praying, planning and preparing to become a bigger body when we open our doors, Lord willing, in Feb. 2006.
I never wanted to become a pastor, and I am honestly astonished that this thing has come this far, but it seems God has this thing about liking to work through those who are weak, so he can show himself strong. I'm OK with that (though his constant killing of me isn't a walk in the park). Please pray for this new work.
We are just about to start putting up a series of articles I have written about our vision, the core of which can be understood by extrapolating our name, Communion of the Arts - we want to create a place of communion for the NYC arts community, and to engage artists of faith into the life of the church by engaging them in undertaking the massive construction effort of creating an entirely new worship liturgy of words, music and physical space. We want to make our contribution in the moving from an emergent conversation to an emergent movement, by mobilizing our amazing resource of NYC artists in doing the heavy lifting of creating one calendar year of liturgy, which can then be used by others to create emergent churches which will appeal to the post-Christian generation - especially in urban settings with large numbers of cultural creatives.
To say that more real world, we'll have lots of ways of being in community, through small groups right on Sunday morning, to being involved in using your artistic talents on a musical liturgy creating team, or a word team, or a visual space team. Then we hope you can feel comfortable inviting your post-Christian peers in the NYC art community to our worship service to see the debut of some of your work. We hope when they come they will be aesthetically thrilled by the congregational harmonies, by the moving prayer-poem-cycle, and most importantly by the love they see that we have for one another in community.
I'd love to hear from you and share more. We'll be rolling out a lot more information in the coming weeks now that we are almost done with our summer series, and are moving into the fall. So, keep in touch.
Also, I thought it was funny that Tony nailed me by mentioning I am an "occasional" blogger - a sadly true observation, for which I am trying to improve but am fighting a natural inclination towards the private enjoyment of my thoughts, and an utter lack of desire to share them publicly online. I do enjoy public speaking, talking to humans and writing, but for some reason I don't have a strong inner impulse to blog. But all things are possible through you know who.