Making Disciples in the City

Topics:
October 10, 2018

We Plant So Disciples will be Made

Church Planting in the City can be a major challenge all by itself. Between trying to
flesh out authentic community, identifying and recruiting potential team
members, building a realistic ministry budget and ensuring your family doesn't
die in the process, we are ultimately called to Make Disciples. This call is
the reason we Church Plant. We want to see people who are lost and far from
God, come to know and encounter the Love, Grace, and Mercy of God through a
saving relationship with Jesus. We plant churches because we believe the
ultimate goal is to be in fellowship with God and we exist to share this truth
with other. This is our Mission, nothing more, nothing less.

Here are a few things we have learned as we planted Redemption Church in one of New
York City’s most challenging neighborhoods. Red Hook - known as the "Crack
Capitol of the World" is home to over 18,000 people living in the 2nd largest
housing development in NY. It now is one of the most sought after places to
live in Brooklyn, With gentrification becoming part of the reality of Red Hook,
we have found a number of issues that face this community from displacement to
rising rents, from Red Hook being Land-locked, to it also being a Food Dessert.
From Educational Inequality to Systemic and Generation Poverty. The list goes
on, yet in the midst of this all we are profoundly encouraged as we continue to
see God at work both in the Hipster and Hood sides of the neighborhood.

Make Room for Everyone

As we think about what Discipleship looks like we found out a deeply profound
strategy that allows everyone to get to Jesus. This is, make disciples among
the urban poor in our community and everyone will have access. Let me explain.
As I see the ministry of Jesus, much of it was among the Urban Poor. He was criticized
for eating with sinners, talking with prostitutes, and even investing into the
life of His betrayer. Yet as He gave His life to be among the outcast and
marginalized, it allowed the Rich and Affluent to feel the freedom to reach Him
where He was at. We see Jesus have encounters with the Rich Young Ruler who
didn't like what Jesus had to offer him. We also see Nicodemus come to Him at
night to inquire about Salvation. Nicodemus was a religious elite with
political influence in the community. Jesus, because of His proximity gave room
for everyone.

On the flipside, had Jesus come and served among the elite of His day. Had He been
among the religious elite and the political powers of His day He would probably
not made room for those in the margins to come close to Him. Like many who are
disenfranchised, they wouldn't feel they can come to such a highly powerful
figure. But Jesus turns things on its head. He comes to be born to a teenage
single mother from the hood of His day. He enters earth and becomes a refugee
fleeing for His life. This story is one that we should strongly consider when
discipleing those who God brings to us. If we frame our discipleship around a
place and time, or shape it by what majority culture says discipleship looks
like we can miss out at Jesus reaching the most vulnerable people in your
community.

Discipleship is a Process

Enduring the process of discipleship will produce a reward beyond words. When growing up
as teenager in church I was taught discipleship happened in the classroom on a
Sunday morning or 1 hour a week at a coffee shop. This thinking is Straight-up
WRONG. Discipleship is a commitment to walk with and endure with other
believers for the maturity the saints and for the glory of God. I know this
sounds good but it is Ugly, Messy, and takes a lot longer than we want. Discipleship
is a process of helping people grow in knowledge of God, apply this knowledge,
make mistakes while doing so and getting back up to do it again. All at the
same time encouraging them to be on mission to do this with other in their
lives. So discipleship looks like this: we get to live gloriously lives that
honor God while we grow, make mistakes, sin, repent, and live on mission with
others who get to see us in the process and we call them into relationship with
Jesus.

We must remind ourselves that Jesus walked with 12 dudes who make a bunch of
mistakes, cursed, fought, wanted to be first in line, betrayed him, abandoned
Him, denied Him, didn't understand His teachings at times, and went into hiding
in His most difficult hours. Yet He called them His own. he didn't give up on
them, He walked with them, taught them, corrected them, instructed them, and
above all He Loved them to God the Father. We must do the same. We must Love
our people towards God. We can't give up on making disciples because it get
difficult, or because we don't see eye-to-eye all the time. We must endure with
the people God brings in our lives. Giving up on people goes against the narrative
of scripture. We see God chase after a people who constantly and actively rebelled
against Him yet His love for them endured to the point of death. Do you love
people the way God does...?

We Must have an Apologetic

As we make disciples we must have an apologetic that fits their reality. A great resource
that helped us with the book Urban Apologetics: Answering Challenges of Faith
for Urban Believers by Christopher Brookes. This book helped as we encountered
people who came with issues of poverty, sexuality, family and fatherlessness,
religions, and social justice. We had to have an answer that was both
Gospel-centered and real. It would be of no, or very little value, to give them
a deep theological dissertation that wasn’t applicable in a practical way. Then
needed to know that Jesus loves and cares for them and that He WILL deal with
issues of Justice and the murder of young Black and Brown men. They need to
know that God is Just and Loving and as a result the day will come, it may not
be in this life, but He will wipe away every tear and He promises to be with us
as we suffer through systemic injustices. They need to know God is for us and
that we, the Church will be a house that will have a voice for the voiceless.
They need to know that scriptures are clear about LGBTQ, yet because of His
great Love God desires that no person be lost and he has made a way for all
people to come into relationship with Him. They need to know that we Love the
LGBTQ community and will keep praying for them and standing with them in issues
of justice & mercy. Single-mothers need to know that they are not alone
both spiritually and practically; they need to know that God hasn’t abandoned
them because they had a child or children out of wedlock and we the Church will
be the big-brother and uncles to their kids. We will stand with them and
protect them from ungodly men who look to prey on their vulnerability. They
need to know the Church hasn’t been perfect and has made many mistakes, yet God
hasn’t given up on her and we are resting in His promise to come back for a
beautify bride that is made perfect through Him. Having an apologetic for our
people is a must! Don’t think otherwise. We need to have real answers for real
issues. If we don’t we will lose footing in the communities God has called us
to. Be good stewards of your resources, of your relationships, and your call to
make Disciples.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20

 

Edwin Pacheco

Pastor Edwin was born and raised in NYC and is the Lead Pastor of Redemption Church in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Email:
epacheco217@gmail.com
Twitter:
http://@EdwinPachecoJr

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767 Hicks Street Brooklyn, New York
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