In 1980, less than one per cent of Manhattan went to church. In the years since something remarkable has happened, and today 25,000 more people go to church than in 1989, with overall participation at three per cent of the population.
But that’s not enough for the churches in the city; they’ve set themselves the goal of hitting 10 per cent, and are in the process of planting 100 new churches. This is because evidence shows churches planted in the past 10 years are the most effective at reaching new believers.
The work of Movement Day in New York and The New York City Leadership Center is bringing change to their city. They take a long hard look at the statistics and present the data to churches to show the reality of the situation they face.
With five million people moving into large cities every month the role of cities has never been more important, and the need for churches to engage in cities lies at the heart of Movement Day’s vision.
Speaking at the Gather Global conference in London, Mac Pier, president of the New York City Leadership Center, commented: “Our vision is to invite leaders to get a vision for their city and to allow them to design what they can do in their city.”
Part of the process is to set clear targets for where churches want to get to, in a way that enables them to measure progress towards that goal. Since beginning Movement Day in 2010 churches from across the United States, and increasingly across the globe, have gathered each autumn to be inspired by what God is doing in the major cities of the world and plan for the future.
In the United States there has been significant impact in the education system, with churches partnering with schools. In Portland one church adopted the most troubled school in the city and their impact has been so great that church members were invited to become staff in the school. Another area where churches are ambitious in their plans is foster care, with churches in Phoenix committing to empty the care system in their city.
As churches in cities have looked at what works and leads to change, they have realised the vital need for senior church leadership to work with senior Christian agency and marketplace leaders.
Mac Pier notes: “There’s been this sense that, for a long time, God has been motivating leaders to come together in prayer as the people of God”.
Bringing leaders together is at the heart of Movement Day, and the commitment to train 20,000 leaders is central. As Mac comments: “It’s one thing to read books on leadership, but it’s another to interact with other leaders – that’s what changes lives. Movement Day has allowed leaders to connect with likeminded people.”