Reflections on Lausanne Conversation in NYC

I attended the Lausanne Conversation held in NYC last night at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan.  You can check out the information about it here.  Shout out to all the other New Life Fellowship folks I saw at the event.

The Lausanne Congress was formed in 1974 led by Billy Graham and John Stott, and it gathered Christian Leaders around the world to draft a covenant of belief “the whole gospel for the whole world.”  Lausanne, named after the city in which the initial congress was held, has continued to convene, and their next big gathering is in Cape Town 2010 (this event will be slightly less followed than the World Cup happening in South Africa this year :)).  The folks at Lausanne are ramping up for this fall event with a series of conversations in different cities.

My small group from YLG 2006.

I’m a fan of Lausanne, and have been mildly connected through different networks, even having the opportunity to participate in one of their younger leader gatherings in 2006.  I’m thrilled about what will happen in Cape Town in October 2010, and I feel indebted to the relationships I’ve made through Lausanne, particularly the small group I was part of at the Younger Leaders Gathering in 2006.

Last night, the panel consisted of some heavyweights in the Christian movement, including Jim Belcher, Gabe Lyons, Bethany Hoang, Tim Keller, Louie Giglio, Gary Frost, and Peter Pretorius.  The topic was the role and importance of cities when it comes to the “whole gospel for the whole world”.

Here are my reflections on the event, particularly from my lens as a pastor in Queens, NY:

1)  The Cities are Important in a Lot of Ways – Tim talked about masses, Louie talked about University Students, Gabe talked about Culture, and there was a whole lot of other reasons the panelists gave as well.  I love NYC.  And Los Angeles.  And Seoul.  And the SF Bay Area.  And maybe Boston if God really moved in my heart.

2)  I Wish More People Would Come and Visit Queens – One of the consistent things that people mentioned about the beauty of Lausanne is learning and connecting with people from all over the world, especially since they’ll all be gathered in one place.  I couldn’t help but think, “Please hop on the R train (or E, F, or V) and come to Elmhurst if you want a taste of the world!”

About half of Queens is born outside of the United States, and the opportunity to learn from other cultures is a $4.5o round-trip subway fare away.  Queens is NYC’s second most populous borough (the first is Brooklyn), and I’d argue that it has the best cheap eats  in the five boroughs.

We have over 120 nationalities and up to 57 different languages spoken in our zip code alone.  New Life Fellowship, our church, is comprised of folks from over 65 countries.  Yes, we’ve counted.

When people talk about worshipping and learning from people from different backgrounds, I start waving my arms in excitement because so many of the diverse backgrounds are right here in Queens!  Much of this same diversity can be found at 82-10 Queens Blvd.

3)  For NYC, I Think it’s a Different Experience Growing Up Here vs. Moving Here

Me, Mike C, David F, Crystal W, and Terry O had a conversation about this afterward, and I think the most common response I get from people who grew up in NYC is that they want to get out of here one day (unless they grew up relatively wealthy).

This isn’t always the case, but man, it sure is common for me to hear from people that they wish they lived in PA (rarely do I hear NJ for some odd reason.  No knock on Jersey, I’m just recounting my experience). 🙂

Meanwhile, most transplants that I meet (including myself), cherish the opportunity to move here.  EB White’s classic Here is New York touches on the different types of NYers, and I think it’s really interesting to hear the wishes, hopes, and dreams of native New Yorkers.

I think outsiders see the city as attractive and sexy, while the natives generally feel burned and tired.  Meanwhile, the outsiders usually have more freedom to move out one day.  I suspect this type of freedom relates to the power of mobility that Soong Chan Rah talks about, but I’m really not sure I can pinpoint the reason for the trends of natives and transplants just yet.  In fact, it may not even be a real trend and it might be a subset of people I interact with!

I found it interesting that no one on the panel yesterday grew up in NYC.

Coincidentally, of the 26 people in our Alpha Course, every single person grew up in NYC, if I recall.  I was the only non-native NYer.

And yes, I live on Roosevelt Island now, and no longer in Elmhurst.

There are a series of contradictions in this post when it comes to my life and my opinions. 🙂

4)  I Generally Feel Positive that an Older Generation of Largely White, Male Evangelical Leaders Want to Empower and Affirm Younger Leaders (Including minorities and women)

Why am I saying this?  Well, the panelists are pretty big heavyweights within Christian sub-culture, and I came away sensing a real humility from the bunch, and a genuine openness to invest in younger leadership.

This point about investment in the next generation (and minorities) wasn’t explicitly made by the panelists, but as I looked at what each is doing – Gabe with Q, Bethany with IJM, Tim with Redeemer, Louie with Passion, Gary with Concerts of Prayer, and Peter with Jesus Alive, I just left really thankful for how they’re investing in younger people while trying to get a sense of our changing world and the next wave of leaders, many of whom may not look like them.

Now, only some of them were older, and most of them were white and male, but yeah, this was my impression of the panelists.

And no, I’m not on a first name basis with any of these people (well, maybe a couple).  I’m just referring to their first names because it’s easier to write.

5)  “Singing the Same Songs, Wearing the Same Clothes..”

Louie made a point about students all over the world and the effect of globalization, and I think it’s true that mass culture is becoming more pronounced globally (Please refer to my post on Taylor Swift in the Philippines).

Cate Song wrote a few of us a note afterward and asked whether this is a good thing, and I think the answer is yes and no.  Yes, we’re connected like we’ve never been connected before, and no, sometimes mass culture can lose innovation/uniqueness/etc…

In regard to Christian music (Louie spearheads the ever-popular Passion movement), David Crowder has a really neat perspective here.

Meanwhile, Peter Rohdin and Bill Humphrey gave us a stirring tutorial about some of the really interesting and sophisticated sounds of Christian music that come from largely Black churches.  Very cool.

Anyhow, this is worth a much larger discussion because it relates to globalization, mass culture, power, etc, but I’m glad Cate asked the question.

6)  Living in the City has its Positives and Minuses, Including its Unexpected “Sufferings”.  Ultimately, there’s a Calling For Each of Us in our Different Jobs, Homes, Neighborhoods, Schools.

It’d be so sweet if we all took the call to love and serve our city passionately.  It’s not the easiest place to live, and there are difficulties that come with it, but what would it look like if we loved our city with great care and service?

Better yet, How can I best love and serve this city today?

Maybe it’s with your time, energy, and money.

Maybe it’s finding ways to love and serve in your marriage, family, job, or school.

Maybe you join the campaign to get Lebron James to the Knicks.

Maybe it’s all of the above 🙂


11 responses to “Reflections on Lausanne Conversation in NYC

  1. Thanks for this prompt reflection. I really appreciate your point of view. I came away with a lot and have a lot more questions from the responses given by the panel. I think I will also blog about this. I’ll use your summary as a reference.

  2. i’m totally down for bron bron in ny. that would bring hope and ease misery.

    as per our convo yesterday, i never understood the glamorization and hype of the city. that’s probably because i grew up here. i find it more draining, tiresome, and hard to leave (which is odd).

    also, i find it interesting that the overwhelming majority of songs we sing at church come from artists at passion/sixstep records and hillsong. they are def. shaping church culture in the tunes/beat/rhythm/lyrics etc.

    still lots to process.

    • hey crystal- you make a good point about what we sing at church, but i think you might notice that it depends on the worship leader… and you’ll see that there might actually be more diverse sounds emerging! but yes, a wonderful discussion to have.

  3. as a native, i used to have tons of pride for the city but working there has killed much of it. bay area has found a place in my top places to live.

    im not sure about nyc as a whole but i def heart queens and would probably move back in a heartbeat. nothing like neighborhood enclaves and the melding of all kinds of pple/food/culture but hopefully neighborhoods like this will pop up all over the US one day.

    • Sharon! Did you read how Sunnyside was #3 on the list of best neighborhoods in NYC by New York Mag… I couldn’t find a link but I have a copy of the magazine issue.

  4. Hey Drew,

    Great post again. Please keep up the good work. I enjoy reading your blog and find it interesting and thoughtful, never long-winded.

    Regarding your thoughts about New York, I was born and raised in Flushing, Queens and went to school in Manhattan from 7-12th grade. Thankfully I went to college in Massachusetts, but I, too, feel burnt out by New York City. I personally don’t understand why people would want to move to a place that’s quite frankly filthy and excessive to the extreme.

    A couple of years ago, in the summer after college, I got to go to San Francisco, and that’s where I really felt things click for me. For me, that would be the perfect place to move to. All I need is a job and a few good friends.


    P.S. How is alpha going?

    • susie! alpha’s going well. we had our first week last week and had a great time.

      as for sf, i LOVE the bay area. i went to school there (the east bay, which is a bit grittier), and had a fantastic time. If I wasn’t in nyc, I’m 80% sure I’d be in the bay area!

      • Hm, we’re called to where God wants us to go. I don’t think it would be SF, would it, if it’s already a nice place to live in?

      • hey hannah- thankfully I believe God wants Christians everywhere, even nice cities like SF! I’d be honored to be called there 🙂

  5. haha yup def saw the link and posted it on fb! 🙂 im glad im not the only one that thinks its so great.

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