JACKSONVILLE (FLBaptist)—Pete Battaglia constantly explores new ways and experiences to expand the spiritual gifts and mission horizons of his musicians and volunteers as minister of worship at First Baptist Church in Plant City.
So he jumped at the opportunity when a mission trip to New York City combined leading worship concerts at Carnegie Hall, Central Park, two flash-mob styled events in Times Square and a time of prayer and worship at Brooklyn Tabernacle with hands-on missions efforts to help struggling church plants in the North American Mission Board-designated “Send City.”
“New York has been targeted by NAMB as a significant mission field,” Battaglia explained. “The huge and culturally diverse population has relatively little Christian influence, while the city itself is central to many of the most influential industries in the world such as fashion, news media, and more.
“The chance to share a unique and effective Christian witness in New York City in places like Central Park, Carnegie Hall, and Times Square is an opportunity to touch a very large number of people with the Gospel, creatively presented through dynamic worship,” said Battaglia.
“The significance of such unique worship leading opportunities will be beneficial to everyone who participates,” he added. “I am certain that those going from our church will have our mission horizons expanded greatly by this experience.”
Another incentive for the church members’ participation is that First Baptist has an established partnership with a NAMB-affiliated church in New York City, one of 15-20 churches that will receive support from the group of Florida Baptist musicians.
“Each church will benefit directly from our time there as we demonstrate ministry, advertise their presence, and partner with them for continued ministry in the future,” Battaglia continued. He said choir members’ relationships with the newly planted church will enhance the two churches’ partnership.
The New York worship project, May 30–June 4, is a mission experience “designed to make God known in a big way, and to push back the darkness in what NAMB has defined as a Send North America City,” explained Terry Williams, Florida Baptists’ team strategist, Music and Worship Ministries and coordinator of the project.
Nearly 250 members of the Florida Worship Choir and Orchestra, which is composed of 600 musicians from more than 300 Florida Baptist churches, have signed up for the trip, Williams reported.
Missional opportunities will include street witnessing, bottled water stations, as well as handing out free tickets to the worship concert at Carnegie Hall where the Gospel will be sung and proclaimed, Williams explained.
“We are developing relationships with leaders in 15 new church plants in Metro New York City. Our goal is to partner with them and help provide worship resources and training based on their requested need,” said Williams.
Among the church planter needs are portable sound systems, microphones, acoustic guitars and song sheets, he added. As well as training in leading worship.
According to Steve Canter, NAMB’s interim Send City coordinator for New York, the teams will provide encouragement, as well as their expertise.
“Church planting is rough and it is consuming. Often the planter is forced to be the leader and expert in every aspect. This will free up the planter to have trained professionals assist in training his worship team,” he explained.
“Also, there is an encouragement that comes when brothers and sisters from different contexts and cultures get together to worship our One God. It is good for us to gather in these situations and celebrate God’s work around the country and the world.”
This type of effort is important because it brings not only encouragement to the planters, but team members as well, Canter added. “We also see that it exposes the missionary team to cultures and lostness in a new way and God uses these types of experiences to set a new course or calling on individuals’ lives.
“We are praying that church members will form strong relational bonds with the planters and be an advocate in their local church to adopt and help support the planting works in NYC.”
Williams said the team continues to recruit others to participate in the project.
Persons interested in participating should contact Kitty Herndon, music and worship ministries at 800-226-8584 ext. 3062; or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.floridaworship.org and click on the logo for more information. Churches and individuals interested in providing donations to help provide resources for these partnering new church plants, should also contact Herndon.
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