This is the story of a young pastoral couple who, in the aftermath of 9/11, decided to plant an Evangelical congregation on Manhattan. They went to New York City in late September 2001 simply to hold an evangelistic event and 98 people came out for it. They continued monthly gatherings called The Journey through the next February, with attendance building from 35 to 67. The first weekly worship service was in March, 2002, with nearly 100 in attendance, but by June attendance had settled down to about 40. During the fall attendance surged up, comfortably over 100, and the next spring it pushed up over 200. In the fall (2003) it topped 300 and in the following spring (2004) over 500.
This story is told in a new book entitled Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch by Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas. Pastor and Mrs. Searcy started the project and Pastor Thomas later completed his M.Div. at Princeton and joined the staff team. The book is intentionally a "toolkit" which shows how churches can be planted in cities designed to gather in young urban professionals. The Searcy's started with no core group and no funding, so they learned to recruit a group of partners from across the country to provide support for their mission and find a staff and core membership as God led them to individuals in the NYC metro area.
If you have dreamed of planting an urban, young adult congregation and you have no core group and no funding, this is a "must read" for you! If you are interested in contemporary church planting, evangelism and/or urban ministry, this is also an important case study.