Tag Archives: NYC churches

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


Churches in NYC

UPDATED: Saturday, November 26th, 2011

I often get asked about churches in the NYC area, and I thought it’d be helpful to compile a list of churches that I’d recommend.

Now, keep in mind that I have not visited all of these churches – I simply know people who are in leadership (or attend), OR I’ve worked with them in the past in some capacity.

Each local church is different in its own way, which I think is really cool.

If you’d like specific details about a church, please feel free to email me (e.g. worship styles, etc).

This is not an exhaustive list by ANY means, so if you know of any other churches you’d recommend, please feel free to comment!

**Also, this list is primarily for people who are moving to NYC (or moving within NYC) and looking for a church community.  If you’re committed somewhere, I’d encourage you to remain committed there, and if you have inclinations to leave, please begin processing with someone in leadership at the church.

Borough – Queens

1. Hope Church NYC – (Astoria, NY)A new church plant that we’re starting in 2012.  We’d love for you to take part!  Lord-willing, we’ll be an honest, diverse community that’s experiencing and inspiring hope everywhere.   http://www.hopechurchnyc.org

2.  New Life Fellowship (Elmhurst, NY) – An incredible church that I’d highly recommend.  I worked here for ten years! http://www.newlifefellowship.org

3.  Christ Tabernacle (Glendale, NY) – I’ve really had a chance to get to know some of their leaders in the past year – notably Ariel Nieves, Pastor Adam Durso, and their Senior Pastor, Michael Durso.  This group has been extremely hospitable, kind, and God-centered.  I look forward to more partnerships with CT. http://www.christtabernacle.org/

4.  The Greater Allen AME Cathedral of NY (Jamaica, NY) – Allen is a historic church that’s done immense work to impact an entire community.  The  Honorable Reverend Floyd Flake is the Pastor, and his wife, Reverend Elaine Flake, is the Co-Pastor.  I’m hoping to connect with some of the leaders there more often.  http://www.allencathedral.org/

5.  Queenswest Church (LIC, NY) – I know their lead pastor, James Kim, from seminary, and we’ve had a few good conversations.  He’s one of the warmest pastors I know. http://www.qnswest.org

6.  Bethel Gospel Tabernacle (Jamaica, NY) – I had an opportunity to have a fortuitous breakfast with Pastor Roderick Caesar (and a few others) one morning.  I was so blessed by his thoughtfulness, humility, and commitment to God’s work in the city and around the world. http://bgtfi.us/

7.  Living Faith Community Church (LFCC) (Flushing, NY) – A close pastor friend, Peter Ong, is a pastor at LFCC.  Peter’s a tremendous guy, and I’ve met some folks from LFCC throughout the years.  Pastor Stephen Ro is the senior pastor, and we’ve had brief, but positive interactions.   http://www.lfcc.net/

Borough – Brooklyn

1.  Clarendon Road Church (Southeast of Prospect Park) – I’ve never visited the church, but their senior leader, Pastor Charles Galbreath, is a stellar leader and speaker.  He recently started at Clarendon! http://clarendonroadchurch.org/

2.  Resurrection Church of NY (Brooklyn, NY) – One of my good pastor friends, Kristian Hernandez, is a leader on staff with a ton of responsibilities at the church.  I’m a big fan of Kristian’s, and so automatically, I’m a fan of their church.  Pastor Joseph Mattera is the senior leader.  http://www.resurrectionchurchofny.com/

3.  Christian Cultural Center (Canarsie, NY) – We had Rev. AR Bernard come speak to NLF’s leadership a few years ago, and it was so great to learn from his wisdom and experiences.  CCC, and Rev. Bernard, have also had an enormous impact on their community and the city.  http://cccinfo.org/

The Bronx

1.  Promised Land Covenant Church – I recently met with Michael Carrion, the lead pastor at PLCC, and this is a thriving, growing church in the South Bronx that is serving the community in so many powerful ways.  I love the church’s diversity and service to the poor and marginalized. http://www.promisedlandcovenantchurch.com/


1.  Redeemer Presbyterian Church – Redeemer has sites all throughout Manhattan, and their church-planting network is quite extensive (I’d recommend any of their church plants simply because I know they’re affiliated with Redeemer).  Tim Keller is the senior leader, and I’ve been greatly influenced by him and his preaching.  Tim also came to NLF a few years ago to speak to our leaders, and he gave a memorable talk and q & a session.  Of their pastoral staff, I know Abe Cho and Mike Keller, both exceptional people.  Redeemer just named four new lead pastors, so it’s cool to hear that they’re planning ahead.  http://www.redeemer.com

2.  Times Square Church (Times Square, NY) – Tina used to attend Times Square, and she loved it there, particularly the Tuesday and Sunday prayer and worship experiences.  The senior pastor is Carter Conlon, and the founding pastor is David Wilkerson.  http://www.tscnyc.org/

3.  OCM (Overseas Chinese Mission) (Chinatown Manhattan) – I’ve spoken there a few times, and they have a really sweet congregation.  I went to seminary with one of their pastors, Austin Woo (great guy), and I recently met Pastor Grace May, whom I’ve heard wonderful things about.   http://www.ocmchurch.org/English/home_eng.html

4.  Morningstar New York – I’ve known people who have attended MSNY throughout the years, and they’ve been really cool people.  I’ve exchanged phone messages with one of their pastors, Adam Burt, a couple of times, and we were once thinking about doing a singles gathering together.  Maybe that’ll still happen someday!  Ron Lewis is their Senior Pastor. http://www.msny.org/

5. Grace Faith Church (Chinatown Manhattan) – I’ve spoken to their Young Adult group before.  It was a lot of fun, and they have great, warm people.  http://www.gracefaithchurch.org/

6.  Remnant Westside Church (Upper Westside, NY) – I’ve never met anyone on their staff, nor have I gone to any of their services, but I’ve met people who attend, and they are a terrific bunch who are passionate about their faith and community.  Pastor Bruce Yi is their senior leader, and they are a church plant of another Remnant church in midtown, which is where a good friend was once a pastor.  http://www.remnantwestside.net/

7.  The River NYC (Downtown Manhattan) – Another best bud goes to this church, and the people I know there are really tremendous people.  One of Tina’s best friends, Chris, used to go there with her husband who was in leadership there before they moved to Chicago.  They are a vineyard church, and their senior pastor is Charles Park.  http://rivernyc.org/

8.  Trinity Grace Church – I’ve never attended TGC, but I’ve exchanged a few emails with Jon Tyson, their lead pastor.  Jon is the real deal, and I love his passion for the city, building community, and encouraging other movements.  They have locations all around.  http://trinitygracechurch.com/

9.  Metro Hope Church – Led by Jose and Mayra Humphreys, I have not had a chance to visit just yet, but I recently met with Jose and I love his passionate, creative heart for God and others.  I’m excited to visit this diverse, artistic community sometime. http://metrohopenyc.org/

10.  New York Chinese Alliance Church – One of my seminary friends, Aaron Chan, is the English pastor there, and he’s someone whose Biblical insight and wisdom I greatly admire.  Plus, he’s a really great guy whose life and character I respect. http://nycac.org.p4.hostingprod.com/english/

11.  Hillsong NYC – Hillsong NYC is relatively new (their official launch was in Jan or Feb of 2011), but they have some incredible momentum going.  Tina and I visited them for their Good Friday service, and we were really blessed to see so many people attending and connecting with this young congregation.  The atmosphere is great, and the people there really seem to love Jesus passionately. http://www.hillsongnyc.com/

Long Island

1.  Shelter Rock Church (Manhasset and Syosset) – I know one of their campus pastors, Josh Moody, and he’s a quality leader and pastor whom I appreciate and admire very much.  I’d highly recommend this church.  http://www.shelterrockchurch.com/

New Jersey

1.  Metro Community Church (Englewood, NJ) – I recently met their senior leader, Peter Ahn, and he’s one of those guys I would love to hang out with more.  He was introduced to us by Brenda Slater-McNeil, and he really impressed the folks on our staff who met him.  They seem like a really cool church. http://emetro.org/

2.  Renaissance Church (Summit, NJ) – I’ve connected with the folks at Renaissance a couple of times, and I’ve been blown away by their hospitality, heart for their community, and innovative/artistic bent.  Steve Young, their Worship and Creative Arts guy, has been a wonderful guy to get to know, and I’d love to visit their church myself on a Sunday! http://www.renaissancechurch.org/

3.  Bethany Well (Fort Lee, NJ) – Richard Lee is the lead guy at Bethany, and he’s a terrific leader/speaker/pastor.  I have a great deal of respect for Rich, and I also appreciate his passion for the Mets.  I spoke at Bethany a few years ago and it was a fun time! http://www.bethanywell.com/