Salon with Mark ReynoldsOn Thursday January 17, Christian Union New York welcomed over thirty guests to hear Mark Reynolds (of Redeemer City to City) teach on church planting in global cities. Through a Salon entitled The New Frontier of Mission, Reynolds outlined effective ways for Church planters and Christian leaders to engage the city around them, along with advice on how to avoid common pitfalls.
The central point of the discussion focused on what Reynolds described as the “Two-Cities” theory.
As outlined in a simple diagram Reynolds handed out at the start of his talk, the church can often be described as one smaller “second city” within the larger “first city.”
As Reynolds puts it, when the church moved the focus of its mission from the suburbs to dense, urban cities, it experienced a lack of fruitfulness, largely due to remaining stuck in this second city and not knowing how to engage the larger city around them. “Most churches are only adapted to reach people who are already in the second city,” Reynolds claimed. They don’t know how to engage with the unchurched majority, which, in a place like Manhattan, could be as much as 95% of the population.
How do we, then, as members of this second city, engage more effectively with the first city? Reynolds suggestions were threefold.
First, the church needs to contain many counterintuitive elements. “People want to put the church into a political category and make into a civic religion,” said Reynolds. We can break out of this box through means such as serving the poor and caring about justice, while at the same time calling people to repentance and holiness.
Second, Christian leaders need to know their city in order to engage it effectively. This means knowing the story of your city and the hopes, fears, values, and dreams of the community you wish to engage. What is good news to the people there? Before planning to engage the city, a Christian leader should spend their first year learning these things, Reynolds suggests. It is also important to create unity amongst church leaders. Take the time to learn each other’s stories, while learning together about the city you all seek to redeem.
Finally, Reynolds encourages developing a Rule of Life (see Justin Earley on Habits of Purpose). We in the second city are far more influenced by the first city than we realize, and it is important to create a set of guidelines to intentionally determine how you wish to shape and be shaped by it.
Despite these suggestions, Reynolds admitted that his advice was incomplete. Referencing Titus 2, he told his audience that “Ideas matter, and motivation matters, but what is most important is that leaders continually rehearse the love of Christ and are transformed by the grace of God.” Ultimately, said Reynolds, it is only the grace of God that transforms lives.
About the Speaker
Mark Reynolds serves as the Vice-President for Leadership Development with Redeemer City to City. His work supports church planters, networks and agencies, developing their capacity to help emerging church planters and other leaders start new and reproducing churches (and healthy church planting networks) in cities. Mark and his family have lived in the upper west side for the last 15+ years serving with City to City.
Christian Union salons are fashioned after the features that made earlier European salons famous – an inspiring venue for the exchange of ideas. Salons provide an intimate gathering for Christian leaders to develop strong ties, discussing topics that will strengthen both the intellectual and supernatural dimensions of your Christian faith. Expert speakers will go in-depth, and participants will have the opportunity to interact with the guest presenter as well as one another.