Church Planters in the City Have it Rough

But is that because the city is so tough or because the folks who go into urban church planting actually believe the hype?

City people are fast paced. They adapt to change without giving too much thought to it and that’s why life becomes chaotic and out of control in the first place. When city people end up pausing to think about their overwhelming state, it’s usually too late. Ministry in the city requires a lot of reflection, prayer and, Scriptural meditation. It’s much easier to be in sync with the pace of the city than the pace of God’s heart for the city. . . .

Cities demand quality, often without compensation. Think of the talented 50 year old sax player in the subway. Get the point? Pastors in cities have to find a healthy way to deal with slow growth and even failure. Unless they do so, they will likely hit the bottle, the spoon, their wives and kids or, the x-rated sites. . . .

The city demands that you give a good reason for what you do and say. At the same time it’s always bargaining with you ideologically. It’s very hard not to compromise biblical doctrine in exchange for the approval of its inhabitants and even harder to find an honest, respectful, clear, and contextual way to communicate truth. . . .

Woody Allen would be embarrassed.

Would urban church planters have an easier time if they simply ministered to people rather than urban people? At a time when race, partisan politics, immigration, and sex balkanize people into their segregated affinity groups, do really need to add cities to the list of characteristics that isolate us from a common humanity (or nationality)? Whatever happened to neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free? But urban or suburban (don’t even think about rural) abideth.

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26 thoughts on “Church Planters in the City Have it Rough

  1. I work in the business centre and live and worship in the midtown frenzy of a large very cosmopolitan city.

    Nearly everyone is just the same in my life as you find in rural and suburban areas. There are a few more problems to deal with like traffic and certain crimes, but people are mostly the same all over

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  2. “Cities demand quality, often without compensation. Think of the talented 50 year old sax player in the subway. Get the point?”

    If the point is that if you’re a 50 year old sax player in the subway then you’re either not very talented or maybe you should try something else – stop pursuing your passion and start pursuing a living. But I don’t see Redeemer churches hiring any 50 year old subway sax players.

    When Redeemerites refer to “the city” they have in mind Manhattan – and specifically Chelsea, Tribeca, Greenwich Village, Wall Street, Central Park, and similar upscale locales. They’re not talking about East Harlem, Newark, Jackson Heights, or Jamaica. No Whole Foods, faux-French coffee houses and patisseries, art galleries, gourmet fusion restaurants. No one talks about Redeeming Newark or East Harlem. It really wouldn’t be fun. Or fruitful.

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  3. “Unless they do so, they will likely hit the bottle, the spoon, their wives and kids or, the x-rated sites. . . .”

    What a bunch of crap. No wonder the redeemerites at presbytery are such a pain in the ass. Could you cry, bitch, kvetch, self-pity, overdramatize, make ready your built in excuses for vice, and otherwise be a *ussy just a little bit more?!

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  4. ……………hit the spoon and/or your wife AND kids. No wonder these Redeemerite pastors make so much and have to employ executive pastors. It’s a hard knock life………………………..

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  5. Subway Sax players, drugs, sex, domestic violence……………………It’s not a pastorate, it’s an HBO series. Somebody thinks their life is worthy of a Broadway play. Some mix of Oliver Twist and Annie. And yes, with the 40 plus million he’s asking for, you can be his Daddy Warbucks. I want this gig. I could so own this sheet.

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  6. Btw, I’m looking for some small scale developers to be the “guards” for my pastorate in lower Manhattan. Mortgage your home and life savings and live above your store front to quilt the neighborhood and give it that local flavor that gives my complex it’s urban pioneer vibe. You can even use my likeness on the shirts of your oh so ga….errrr….whit……errr…..urban vanguard kickball team

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  7. The spoon? We’re talking heroin, right? Do we know of a Reemeer clone staffer who’s hit the smack? Maybe this refers to bingeing on Campbell’s Chunky. I call BS. And most of them couldn’t beat up their wives if they tried.

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  8. cw, will the Kellers ever answer their critics or the challenges? Or is God’s unction so thick they don’t need to?

    At least Calvin, an urban pastor mind you, had to live and answer his critics for 15 years before coming into his kingdom. TKNY was anointed from the get go, though he didn’t quite coincide with Collin Hansen’s reportage.

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  9. Dr. Hart,

    I read your blog regularly and would like to find a confessional church. We currently are in an Anglican church but are there any confessional presbyterian churches around? All I see are PCUSA churches or pretty much baptist churches that happen to baptize infants. Is there something I am missing or are they that hard to find? I live in South GA which might be 3/4 of my problem.

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  10. CW,

    I read Rachel’s blog article. I live in a rural community and didn’t realize that was a sin until Pr. Keller enlightened me. I wish someone in the church planting world cared about rural communities where I have lived most of my life and will probably continue to due to the nature of my husband’s job. We are currently in an ACNA church that left the Episcopal church. We are not Anglican but if my husband and I don’t go there we will have to choose between the First Baptist church, a few Free Will Baptist, a Missionary Baptist, a slew of Holiness bodies (I guess the Wesley’s didn’t object to planting rural churches), a United Methodist church, a PCUSA church oh and a Church of Christ. The only “church plants” are people who are sort of baptist running from the traditional Southern Baptist Church by going to a metal building where the Praise and Worship is slightly better and they don’t have altar calls or a sinner’s prayer.

    All of this to say, I wish some confessional church within the Reformed world would start planting churches in small towns. But the notoriety would be non existent and they probably wouldn’t get a blog on the Gospel Coalition website. Then again if you are really confessional you probably won’t be on the Gospel Coalition website anyway.

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  11. Robin,

    I’m in Pike County. We have two confessional churches that are just over an hour distant, one PCA, one OPC. There are several PCAs closer, but they are definitely not traditional Presbyterian congregations. I’d call the regional home missionary of the OPC, if I were you. I’m pushing for a plant in my sinfully rural community.

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