Tag Archives: new york city

We’re Launching A New Church in Midtown Manhattan

Hope Midtown Launches October 2014

I’m really excited to announce that Hope Church NYC will be planting our third church in Midtown Manhattan in October 2014.

It’s hard to believe that in September 2012, we launched this church not knowing what to expect, especially with the challenges of starting anything new in a city like New York.

We hoped to become a movement of diverse, small/medium sized neighborhood churches where God could move throughout faith communities, and 20 months later, we’ve been able to start two growing churches (Hope Church Astoria & Hope Church Roosevelt Island) in remarkably diverse contexts.

Of course, we’ve had our challenges too, but in many ways those challenges have allowed us to press deeper into trusting that God is doing the work, while we’re along for the ride.

For the past year and a half we’ve had a group of folks journeying together in Manhattan, and this crew is now preparing to help us launch this church in the Fall.

I will be leading this new venture along with James Chi (you’ll hear more about James soon) and a host of awesome people that comprise our Midtown Community.

In addition, Craig Okpala will be overseeing the worship experience in Midtown while still being significantly engaged in Astoria.

I will also remain significantly engaged in Astoria (I’ll still be attending and preaching at Hope Astoria regularly, for the most part) as Hope Midtown will gather in the evening.

One of the clearest ways this has all been possible has been because of the standout leadership of people like Kristian Hernandez (Hope Astoria & Preaching Team Lead – Kris will be a regular preacher in Midtown), Dan & Amanda Sadlier (Hope Roosevelt Island), and our Transitional Leadership Team (Darryl Romano, Christine Okpala, & Tony Thottukadavil), and a stellar staff team at our churches.

They, along with so many of our leaders, volunteers, and attenders – have been a joy to serve alongside.

And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my wife Tina is as supportive of this as she’s ever been.

I’m excited about all that God is doing in NYC, and I’m so glad to be along for the ride.

Hope Midtown has begun meeting weekly on Friday Nights in Manhattan as we prepare to launch in October, 2014.  If you’d like to find out more or if you’d like to get involved, you can email me at drew@hopechurchnyc.org.    

Advertisements

Personal Reflections After One Year @ Hope

If you haven’t heard by now, Hope turned One a few weeks ago (September 22), and it’s been a milestone for us as a church.

I’ve shared some personal reflections (and lessons) I’ve learned as a church planter before here, here, & here, but I thought I’d add to the list now that we’ve made it through one year.

1.  “Leadership is the art of disappointing people at a rate they can stand.” – John Ortberg

I’ve been in vocational ministry for just about 12 years now, and never before has my leadership (particularly its flaws) been under as intense a microscope as it has been during church planting.

Seriously, the folks at Hope have been super gracious, and I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people (some more than others, unfortunately) – hopefully it continues to be at a rate that people can stand.

2.  “In Ministry You’re Going to Disappoint Someone, Try Not to Make it Your Family” – Lynn Hybels

Ah yes, ministry is full of disappointing people, and it’s hardest when the ones we disappoint are our spouses and kids.

I’ve been very mindful of this during this season, and I’ve tried my best not to disappoint Tina and David too much.

We regularly practice Sabbath, and we take frequent trips outside the city as well.*  This has really helped us maintain a sane pace in this church planting endeavor.

Obviously, I fail more than I’d like to admit, but it’s good to keep this statement as a compass for us moving forward in church planting and vocational ministry in general.

Feel free to ask Tina how it’s going, and if you ask David, he’ll probably tell you that he wants to watch Nemo.

While you’re at it, register for this conference to help lead from a healthy marriage and inner life.

*The caveat here is that regular Sabbaths and vacations have only been possible because 1) We have an awesome team.  Seriously, these folks can easily lead and shepherd without me, and it’s been unbelievable working with a dream team.  2) We have the been blessed with resources to go away.  I’m not going to pretend that resources don’t matter when it comes to vacations/development/pulpit-supply for pastors, and I’m a big advocate for pastors being funded. 

We can talk more about this but I realize there are many out there who have neither a team nor resources yet, and that’s where networks and denominations like ours can be so helpful.  

3.  I’m More Mindful of the Question “Should We Do This?” rather than “Can We Do This?” 

I think for any entrepreneurial endeavor, it’s easy to dream about endless possibilities without taking into account reality.

In the entrepreneurial endeavor of church planting, I think it’s easy to dream about endless possibilities without the very fuel that runs it all – the Spirit.

This is where prayer is so important… specifically, the following prayer:

“Your Will Be Done, Your Kingdom Come.”

4.  In Any Missional Church, a Balance of Risk and Safety is Needed. 

If there’s too much risk, then people get burned out, community and quality suffers, etc.

If there’s too much safety then there’s little movement and vitality, and an insulated culture is created.

I believe Jesus modeled this for us, too, but that’s worth another blog post.

Hopefully we continually find ourselves between these two extremes.

5.  As Somewhat of a Careful Planner, I’m Consistently Surprised By How Things Turn Out Differently Than I Envisioned, and Yet Sorta Similar.

This definitely reminds me Who’s in Control.   

5.  I Was Made For This.

I can’t believe I get to do this.  It’s such an honor to exercise faith in this way!

I recall all my fears about church planting, and I realize I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

As a result, I am so unbelievably thankful to everyone who’s supported us on this journey.  It’s been such a thrilling ride, and despite going through some of the hardest times of my life, it’s been so reassuring seeing how God has orchestrated it all.

Hope Church NYC Launches This Sunday, September 23rd

It’s hard to believe that September 23rd is finally here.  After months of wrestling with God about what our next steps were, Tina and I came to the conclusion that God was calling us to stay in NYC and plant a church in Astoria, NY.

Less than one year later, Hope Church NYC officially launches.  I am so humbled and grateful as this church planting project is born.

Solideogloria.

As we head into this Sunday, I wanted to recognize some folks whom God has graciously allowed to have a hand in planting Hope.

1)  Tina and Our Son David – This has been an unbelievable season for our family, and one that has taken precedence over what’s happened at Hope.  David has been such a gift, and Tina has been the best mom and wife I could have ever asked for.

My wife and son have been a gift from God.

With all the stresses of a newborn and a new church, Tina has been a steady and faithful rock throughout the process, even putting up with my shenanigans with good-spirited aplomb.

And David has been a true champ.  I love these two!

2) Launch Team –  What makes a church is the people, and Hope is full of some incredible people.  I can’t thank these folks enough for their commitment, their volunteering, and most of all, their presence!

There have been some funny, “that’s church planting” moments for sure, but I’m so grateful for the willingness to go with the flow as we’ve had so many stops/starts & twists/turns.

This community has also shown me so much grace through my own mistakes – many of which have been painful but necessary to see.

Launch team and new regular attenders – thanks so much for being part of what’s happening at Hope!

PS Special shout-out to our other pastoral staffers – Craig Okpala and Joe Longarino.  Studs.

3) The Evangelical Covenant Church – It’s been such a joy to be part of a larger movement, and the Evangelical Covenant Church has been super supportive and encouraging throughout.  Jason Condon, the Director of Church Planting for the East Coast Conference of the ECC, has been so helpful and insightful in this process, and learning alongside other church planters in NYC, NJ, and New England has challenged and encouraged me in so many ways.

We’re so lucky to be part of this family of churches!

4) Family and Friends who have Supported Hope – So many friends and family have supported this church plant with their prayers and their financial support, and it’s been so humbling to hear stories of people fasting and praying on our behalf, while others have given sacrificially so that we could launch.

Seriously humbled by all these folks who are literally all around the world. Thank you so much for your friendship, mentorship, and generosity.

And a very special thanks to the Hyun and Park families.  Tina and I are so, so grateful for you and your support.

5) New Life Fellowship – I’m so grateful for all the friendships I’ve made at New Life over the years, and the incredible people I’ve learned so much from. Obviously Pete and Geri Scazzero have had a significant part in that journey, and I’m so, so grateful for all they have deposited in me over the years.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today without New Life, and Hope wouldn’t be the kind of church that it is without New Life.

6) Other churches in NYC – There have been so many pastors who have voiced their support of what we’re doing, and to know we stand side-by-side with so many churches is an amazing feeling.

There’s something stirring in NYC…

One of the Privileges of Being a Pastor at New Life Fellowship

In the flurry of Christmas parties and potlucks, I was called in for jury duty last week.  Interestingly enough, the interruption to my schedule felt like a respite from all the usual December end-of-year activities.

In my prior experiences with jury duty, I’ve never been called in beyond the waiting room, so I was surprised and anxious when I got called into a courtroom with a number of other potential jurors.  In fact, I was in the first group sitting in the jury box, and it was certainly an honor to hear from the judge about our legal system and the role we would play as jurors.

If you’ve ever been on jury duty, you probably know that there’s a vetting process that each juror has to go through under the watchful eyes of the prosecutor and defense attorney (as well as all the other complementary participants in a courtroom).

Potential jurors are asked to answer a litany of questions, some of which are similar to the following:

What’s your occupation?

Are you related to or know anyone involved in law enforcement?

Have you ever been the victim of a crime?

Do you know anyone who has been accused of a crime?  What’s been your experience with people in law enforcement?

First off, it was so cool hearing about the disparate backgrounds and occupations of my fellow potential jurors.  NYC is definitely a melting pot.

Despite the ethnic differences of our jury group, it was customary to hear others answer “no” to a majority of the questions related to knowing people who have been in law enforcement or been accused of crimes, etc.  Usually, the answers were “yes” to one or the other – do you know more law enforcers or more criminals?

When it came time for me to answer questions about my job and various relationships I have with people, I shared that I was a pastor who had a broad range of relationships with people from different walks of life.

Unlike most of the other potential jurors, I was one of the few people who said “yes” to almost everything.  Both the prosecutor and the defense attorney narrowed their questions to me specifically after the general questions were asked.

The two sides asked me (not in exact terms):

– Can you tell us about your interaction with police officers?

– Can you tell us about people that you know in law enforcement?

– Can you tell us about the trials of accused people that you knew?

I didn’t realize how odd it was to have such varied relationships, but in the course of the questioning everyone discovered:

– As a pastor of a church community, I know cops, defense attorneys, prosecutors from the DA Office, and other legal and security professionals.

– As a pastor of a church community, I also know people who have been victims of racial profiling, accused of armed robbery, accused of selling drugs, etc.

Of the groups mentioned above, they’re all folks I’ve met through New Life Fellowship.

People prosecuting and representing the state, people defending and the people being defended – they’re all friends and families who attend New Life Fellowship.

At some level, this might seem like an awkward dynamic.  At another level, it’s also quite beautiful.  Messy, but beautiful.

I count it a privilege to being a pastor in this community, and although some tend to think that religious people see the world through black-and-white, right-and-wrong lens, being part of such a diverse community has shown me that there are more shades of gray when it comes to the problems we all face.

And at the end of the day, these problems remind us that we are linked not by our perfection or our rightness, but by our common weakness, a weakness that calls for a better way, a better truth, a better life.

In other words, we all come together – prosecutor and prosecuted – because we’re all longing for advent.

I think that message will preach.  I think that community will preach, too.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” – Jesus Christ

Reasons Why I’m a Huge Jeremy Lin Fan

Jeremy Lin is my favorite basketball player.

There are so many things to like about this guy, and I’ll outline why I’m such a big fan in this post.

Jeremy Lin's game is like a slasher/playmaker.

Either way, it’s been fun following his career up until now, and I’ve been thrilled to pieces over his signing with the Golden State Warriors.  Granted, he still has to perform well, but even making it this far is quite an accomplishment.  I have little doubt that he’ll do everything he can to take his game to another level.

I remember first hearing about him after Harvard beat BC, who had just beaten the #1 ranked UNC Tarheels.  After that, I googled him and found out that Lin was the California State Player of the Year and State Champion in Division II basketball in California.  I won’t go into why this is such an impressive accomplishment as a high school player, but this is a very BIG deal considering the talent that comes out of California from the prep ranks.

Shortly after the BC game, I remember having a conversation with David Park, my brother in law and former Harvard player himself, about the case for Jeremy playing in the NBA.  Fun times.

After that, I tried to catch as many games as I could, and thanks to this guy – poor man’s commish – I was able to follow Jeremy’s path to the NBA quite closely.  Poor Man’s Commish did an amazing job of making the case for Jeremy as an NBA player, and I’m so grateful for all of his efforts.

I watched as many games as I could (Harvard games are hard to find), saw him play live at Columbia (and even met his mom), watched the entire NBA draft just to see if Jeremy would get drafted, then watched every single one of Jeremy’s summer league games on TV.

I’m so proud of the guy.

Anyhow, here’s why I like the guy so much (besides the obvious fact that he’s Asian American).

1)  He’s a committed Christian – Check out this interview and this one.  Jeremy wants to be a pastor in an urban community one day.  Now, this alone is something that gets me excited, but I think there’s something about his game, his effort, and his accomplishments that seem to reflect so much of what we believe as Christians.  I’ll expound on this later.

2)  He’s been an underdog most of the time – To some degree, it’s hard to argue that a Harvard grad has been an underdog, but when you consider Harvard basketball vs the rest of the NCAA, it’s a true underdog story (even if he went to Princeton, more folks may have seen him as a more legit prospect).

Consider:

Jeremy has constantly proved detractors wrong.

Jeremy was not offered a Division 1 scholarship out of high school, even though he was the State Player of the Year.  That’s crazy.  I don’t think that’s ever happened before (I’ll leave the research to poor man’s commish).  Some suggest it’s because he’s Asian-American… it’d be hard to argue otherwise, considering he played in arguably the best state when it comes to prep basketball.  Btw, his team (Palo Alto) beat Mater Dei, a perennial powerhouse in Southern California.

– Jeremy played for Harvard, and he helped turn them into a winner. Again, Harvard has never been known for its basketball program, and yet they were on the cusp of the NCAA tournament this year.  He played well against bigger named schools (he even dropped 30 points on UCONN and Jim Calhoun said he could play with anybody), but…

Jeremy went undrafted – Even though Jeremy put up some record breaking numbers at Harvard and led them to winning seasons, he went undrafted because people didn’t think he could play at the NBA level.  Most folks counted him out because of his perceived lack of athleticism.

– Even on the summer league team, Jeremy had to claw for minutes – The Mavs had two former first round picks playing ahead of him at guard (Beaubois and Jones), and while they’re great players, Jeremy still had to show his game in limited minutes.  Beaubois battled some injuries, which allowed Jeremy to get more minutes than normal against John Wall.

I love that Jeremy has persevered so much, even despite all the setbacks and disappointments.  I haven’t even mentioned the racial slurs and all the stereotypical stuff.

And yet, Jeremy hasn’t backed down, even against the #1 pick in the draft.  Just watch these highlights and watch Jeremy’s fearlessness.  The kid doesn’t back down from anyone.

Now, it’s a bit ridiculous to say that Lin is better than Wall or that he’s even with Wall in terms of production.  But, I think it’s fair to say that Jeremy is just as strong a competitor as Wall.

I think this says something about Jeremy’s faith, a fighting spirit that is confident yet humble, working hard to beat the odds.

3)  Jeremy’s type of game beats so many stereotypes – First, one would expect a guy from Harvard to have a specialist game of some sort, a la Chris Dudley, rebounding machine from Yale.

Moreover, one would expect an Asian American to be a dead-eye shooter of some sort, making up for a lack of athleticism or size.

But Jeremy’s a slasher/playmaker. He plays great D, has an unorthodox shot, and is fearless going to the rim.

And he plays so hard – his motor is constantly going.

I love it.   

4)  He loves basketball and has excelled in it – This point relates more to what I think about him being a Christian athlete.  Too many times Christians believe that to excel at anything outside of Bible Study, prayer, etc is to be a less devoted follower.  And yet, here’s someone who identifies first with Christ, and still has the guts to work hard and excel in a game he loves.

Christians often pit the two as mutually exclusive – excellence in faith and excellence in work.  But Jeremy is a model that it’s okay, and even ideal, to be excellent at both, and that by doing so, excellent work is a spiritual enterprise.

5) He went to Harvard – This story would be different if Jeremy went to UNC or UCLA.  That’s the typical route to the NBA, and it would allow people to validate his athletic prowess alone.

But for Asian Americans, Jeremy would be a weird anomaly, someone who was a freak athlete and that’s it.

In a weird way, Jeremy going to Harvard allows more Asian Americans to relate to him because he didn’t go on a basketball scholarship – he just went to the best school where he was accepted as a student and where he thought he could play ball.

Now, it’s crazy that Jeremy went to Harvard of all places, the second best school in the country (to Berkeley), but the fact that Jeremy enrolled in a school and went about pursuing a dream (instead of having it handed to him) is really remarkable.

I think Jeremy’s typical as an AA who goes to college but really would prefer to do something else with his life rather than econ, law, or medicine.

Most AAs know other AAs similar to what I described – going to the best college I can, but secretly wanting to do something else with my life.

The difference with Jeremy is that he’s doing that “something else” now.

And so we all celebrate as if Jeremy was one of us.

Because he is…

… but with the faith, courage, and determination to pursue “something else”.

**being 6’4″ 200 lbs certainly helps too!