No budget + high profile hostility
+ lousy weather + despondent adult leaders
+ inspired student leaders + 2 weeks notice
+ a community greatly loved + supportive adults
+ viral technology + a God idea
= one of the most amazing youth ministry experiences of my 23 year youth ministry career.
Best of all, for a veteran youth worker: I had nothing to do with organizing it.
All I had to do was show up, with a faith-filled heart and eyes to watch it happen.
In case you missed the memo (or the 100s of #GodBelongsInMyCity Tweets last week), 1,500 people marched through the streets of Manhattan on Saturday, November 14, from 96th Street in the North to Battery Park in the South, with shirts that proclaimed, “God Belongs in My City.”
“March” is actually a misnomer. There was no hostility or militancy. It was more of a walk with a purpose: to radiate love and affection for God and neighbor, while praying that God would be glorified in our City by lives that love others well.
The catalyst for the day was a dismayed youth pastor who asked some of his student leaders why Christians were publicly silent after atheists launched a citywide ad blitz claiming 1 million New Yorkers reject the existence of God. They responded as only youth can — by launching a movement.
Despite a Noreaster bearing down on the Northeast, with flash floods forecast throughout the day, a 1,500 person Flash Mob showed up at the two rally points at 9 am.
God smiled on them. The sun began to shine, and the rains held for four hours, just long enough to convene on the TKTS steps at Times Square for an impromptu worship service followed by a silent prayer meeting beneath the Zodiac mural in the Main Lobby of venerable Grand Central Station.
In the process, adults like me experienced the awe-inspiring joy that can happen only after we have gotten out of David’s way long enough to watch Goliath topple.
Some of the highlights (a sampling of play-by-play tweets from the day, with links to photos):
- The largest silent prayer meeting ever at Grand Central because #godbelongsinmycity http://twitpic.com/pixo7
- At 110 1500 teens will pray silently in Grand Central for 5 minutes because #godisinmycity http://twitpic.com/pi91r
- A choir of angels, a/k/a youth, because #godbelongsinmycity: http://pic.gd/96e3ad. His Kingdom belongs to them
- http://pic.gd/c91920 “they all have God on their tshirts” because #godbelongsinmycity
- Overwhelmed wat happens when youth lead #godbelongsinmycity http://pic.gd/48d618
- http://pic.gd/a049a0 who are these people? #godbelongsinmycity http://tinyurl.com/viralcity
- This is why @mikebloomberg closed the streets to cars http://pic.gd/e66ae4 #godbelongsinmycity
- Thanksging Parade comes early to Macys because #godbelongsinmycity http://pic.gd/9c1a7d
- Hark the Herald (Sqare) proclaims #godbelongsinmycity http://pic.gd/172690
- Hustler: you da bloods they da crips? Nah u got God on ur shirts #godbelongsinmycity
- At Madison Square #godbelongsinmycity http://pic.gd/0c6bd5
- Unity at Union Square because #godbelongsinmycity http://pic.gd/37d0bd
- Three generations wear it proudly because #godbelongsinmycity http://pic.gd/90eb1e
- Mr Mayor: #GodBelongsInMyCity http://twitpic.com/phkln
- We will never forget: #GodBelongsInMyCity. Esp at Ground Zero http://twitpic.com/phiyw “Buried in the rubble r the seeds of revival”
- Even on Wall Street #GodBelongsInOurCity. http://twitpic.com/phhl3 Romans 5:20
- #GodBelongsInMyCity Battery Park rally prayer http://twitpic.com/phg6i
- In case you missed the memo #godbelongsinmycity. Some of the student organizers http://twitpic.com/phg0w
Google Video is picking up new “God Belongs in My City” videos each time I search. Here is a sampling.
From the South Route
From the North, Featuring the GBIMC Anthem
One Youth Group’s Journey
Sights and Sounds from Times Square
+ Goliaths Fall When Students Lead
+ Embrace the Mess: Why Youth Must Lead Now
+ Confessions of a
Youth Pastor Hypocrite on Loving the Least of These: Meeting Jesus on the Lower East Side
+ Young People are NOT the Future: Embracing the YW8? (Why Wait?) Generation