William Carey is known as the “father of modern missions.” He was a missionary to India in the late 1700s. He and his good friend, Andrew Fuller, partnered together for the advancement of the gospel. While Carey went to India, Fuller stayed back home becoming president of the Baptist Mission Society. Carey famously said to Fuller before his departure overseas, “I will go down into the pit, if you will hold the ropes.” Carey went and Fuller held the ropes.
New York City is known for many iconic markers—the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, One World Trade Center, just to name a few. People flock to this great city for food, entertainment, fame, and fortune. I recently led a group of church leaders there for a vision trip to meet church planters living in the city for gospel impact. The city is coming back to life after a year of uncertainty known as 2020. Manhattan, for example, known as a worldwide center for all things commercial, financial, and cultural, was busy with activity.
As we met with various church planters to hear their stories and their vision for reaching the city, one theme became clear: we need your help! Great Commission work is not meant to be done alone. In a metro area of 22 million people, only 2% follow Jesus. The massive need of lostness alone can be crippling to any gospel minister without the right support, not counting the challenges of living in a concrete jungle.
Kentucky Baptist Churches, while very different in context from New York City, can play a vital role in providing a lifeline of gospel advancement in a human sea of lostness. Every church leader we met expressed the need for meaningful partnerships. These partnerships are not dependent upon having the same ministry context, but simply a willingness to link arms or as Carey told Fuller once, hold the ropes.
Kentucky Baptists can hold the ropes with gospel partners in New York City through the following examples:
Partner long-term (at least 3-5 years). Relationships take time and gospel work in New York City is often slow. Relationships built around encouragement, prayer, teams, and finances provide much needed support.
Send multiple teams (per year if needed and possible). Nothing like seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and touching the city to understand the great needs of the city. Short-term teams done rightly can be a huge boost to the planter and the advancement of the gospel.
Be gospel centered. Partnerships built around the gospel are critical. While there are many good and helpful ways we can serve others, the gospel must be at the center of all we do.
Follow the vision/strategy of the church planter/church. Let those who live in the city and know the needs of the city determine how to best reach the city.
Be a servant. While New York City is a great place to experience so much, partnering there requires that Kentucky Baptist Churches place priority on serving their partner.
As William Carey set sail for India, he needed the assurance that others like Fuller would be back home holding the ropes for him. New York City church planters need the assurance of Kentucky Baptists that we will join in the work there by holding the ropes for gospel advancement. If you want to learn more about your church partnering in NYC, please contact me at [email protected].