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Australian native Jon Tyson moved to the United States in 1997, convinced that "the future of the Western church was going to be hashed out here." He later heard Os Guinness say that three questions would plot the course of the 21st century: What will take the place of Communist China? Will Islam modernize peacefully? And will there be a third spiritual renewal in the West?
Tyson jumped on that third question, hoping to be part of the answer. He moved from Orlando to New York City, where he is now pastor of Trinity Grace Church, which has planted five smaller missional communities in what Tyson calls the "city parish" model. The communities come together once every six weeks for a large gathering. Much of this was modeled after Redeemer Presbyterian Church, where Pastor Tim Keller mentored four of Tyson's associates. Redeemer has also invested considerable finances into Trinity Grace's growth.
Tyson, 34, speaks at conferences about urban church planting. Noting that 80 percent of the world's population will live in cities by 2030, Tyson says Christians now have a desire "to return and respond to the places we have missionally abandoned. But people are discovering the pure richness and goodness of living in cities."
Describe the city parish model.
We're made up of several smaller communities around the city that put a priority on outreach in their respective neighborhoods. Rather than being autonomous, they are networked together to share resources, admin support, and more, aiming to shape the spiritual climate of the city. Our vision is to be a movement of restoration and renewal in each neighborhood and industry of the city by joining God in the renewal of all things.
How is this different from a denomination?
Mainly in structure, by having different "arms" of the church in different neighborhoods. We didn't set out to start a denomination, but to simply start a church. Because New York is organized by neighborhoods, we decided to organize our church that ...