A Southern Baptist couple left their livelihood behind in Georgia for an urban, life changing experience after realizing their calling was to become pastors. Now their sole purpose is to plant a church in Brooklyn while getting their family adjusted to the big city.
Jon and Bonnie Carr's decision to move with their two young daughters last year stemmed from a 2010 New York City mission trip in which Jon felt a need to spread the word of God to a city that lacked a great evangelical presence. After spending seven years in ministry school and leading two Georgia churches, Jon understood his desire to plant a church and his concern for New Yorkers were the factors that defined his calling.
"It was God who stirred our hearts and shaped our desires to move to NYC. Over the course of two years God instilled within us a great passion for the city and urban renewal; as well as a deep burden for the people of the city," said Jon to The Christian Post.
Since moving to the city, the Carrs initiated their journey by working as apprentices through the North American Mission Board and began to gain hands-on experience in church planting within an urban setting. Currently, they are working alongside Cornerstone Church at Bay Ridge, a diverse neighborhood in Brooklyn where they have received major support for their up-and-coming ministry, Metro City Church.
"Brooklyn is the most populous of the five boroughs, with 2.5 million people, but there are not many churches serving them. However, we have met numerous people in our community who are interested in what we are doing, regardless of their faith background," said Jon.
Through the development of his pastoral ministry in New York, and amid the support of the community, Jon admits his family has faced challenges along the way, but his calling is a reminder that his efforts are not in vain.
"We were drawn to Brooklyn because we felt it was a good fit for our family and the percentage of families with children is much higher in Brooklyn than in many parts of the city. So far, the hardest part has been the daily grind of living in the city. Work schedules, school, sports, church planting tasks, and the like make for a busy schedule. Add to that an extremely high cost of living, a fast-paced atmosphere, and difficulty in getting to places due to trains that are delayed and/or not running, sitting in heavy traffic, road closures for parades and festivals, limited street parking, and life can get pretty overwhelming," said Jon.
He also told CP that he and Bonnie worried that making the move to Brooklyn would affect their daughters' upbringing. "The biggest reservation we had was that our children would not have the same childhood as my wife and I. But we realized that although their childhood will be different, it will not be bad. They will be able to see and experience things that other children do not get to experience."
Now that they have nestled into city life, the young church planter finds that the formula for creating a church from scratch is not an easy one despite having additional support from church partners in Georgia and New York, as well as several mentors.
"God does not promise us an easy or comfortable life. He desires for us to forsake all and live in obedience to Him in order to see His glory proclaimed throughout the world," said Jon. "As we meet people who are interested in the church, we'll start gathering new members and holding regular worship services. Our timeline is based more on milestones than dates, but we would like to begin holding services beginning mid-2014."
Despite the long road ahead of Jon as a future pastor, he envisions his church to be one where New Yorkers can find the true demonstration of God's love and be a place that can ultimately reach millions of city dwellers.
"Our goal is to plant a church in Brooklyn that will love the people, serve and care for the neighborhood, spread the gospel, and help multiply the church in NYC by planting new churches throughout the city. We are praying that God will bring all churches from all denominations together to advance the gospel and see His kingdom come in New York."