NEW YORK – Graffiti Church in Manhattan’s Lower East Side has long been a destination for Southern Baptist mission teams wanting to serve New York. Pastors tell stories of how it changed forever the way they view cities and poverty.
The 58-year-old Taylor Field, who started with his wife, Susan, the then-storefront church 26 years ago, still has a beginner’s enthusiasm that continues to engage dozens of groups each year.
Field has begun serving as a North American Mission Board (NAMB) national church planting catalyst and a member of NAMB’s LoveLoud team with the vision of expanding effective Southern Baptist urban ministry throughout North America.
Photo by John Swain/NAMB
Taylor Field, a North American Mission Board LoveLoud missionary, addresses NAMB trustees at a 2012 Miami board meeting. Field, who continues to lead Graffiti Church in Manhattan and its church planting efforts, has a new role with NAMB as a LoveLoud catalytic missionary.
“He has ministered in a tough community for a lot of years,” said Jerry Daniel, NAMB’s LoveLoud team leader. “[Field has] led the way in showing us how to minister to neglected neighbors and neglected communities. We’ve asked him to be a church planter catalyst for churches in other urban settings where the churches are planted with a DNA to minister to the needs of the community while sharing Christ.”
Graffiti made pivotal community connections in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Even as the Lower East Side church recovered from its own flooding and damage, it was able to enlist 200 local and mission volunteers, assist more than 100 families in need, clean out 18 other buildings and commit to six months of ongoing relief work and ministry in the storm’s aftermath.
“God has allowed us to be involved in people’s personal lives in significant ways,” said Field. “[In Sandy’s aftermath] many doors have opened for us that don’t usually open in Manhattan.”
The DNA that has allowed Graffiti to strive through adversity while serving the suffering is what Field hopes to help bring to SBC churches throughout North America.
Field’s new role is designed to strengthen urban church planting through Graffiti’s ministry-based model. While maintaining his work in New York, Taylor will help accomplish this in several ways on a national scale:
Assist the LoveLoud team in casting vision for urban church planting that is based on ministry evangelism.
Assist in producing material for churches and church planters focused on community service and church planting based on ministry evangelism.
Assist in recruiting experienced speakers and leaders who can share and shape this vision.
Develop affinity networks focused on ministry evangelism in urban settings.
Provide orientation and training processes for church planters and churches in other cities that wish to affiliate with a Graffiti Ministries network.
“Our experience here has been that as we see Christ’s love in tangible ways many, many other things happen,” Field said. “That includes people coming to Christ and churches being started. We look forward seeing what God does not only in New York City but across North America.”
Graffiti’s original church-starting plans included five ministry centers in the city by 2020 but that number may be reached this year. Field hopes to increase efforts to establish 50 new ministry locations that could in turn become new church plants.
“For me it was the possibility to continue what we’re doing here and also to expand the opportunities to tangibly help people in our denomination,” Field said. “We’ve just had some wonderful experience with ministry-based church starting and we really want to develop that in other areas of North America.”
Field is the second missionary engaged as a LoveLoud catalyst. NAMB deployed its first LoveLoud catalyst, Lorna Bius, in 2012 to work in its West Region. Her task is to discover best practices and connect churches that want to learn from those with established ministries fitting LoveLoud’s vision.
“Taylor has a long and proven history in SBC life,” said Al Gilbert, NAMB’s executive director of LoveLoud and vice president of evangelism. “He’s been doing this for more than two decades. His ministry has impacted not only the people of New York City but has helped Southern Baptists see people of the city through a different lens.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Adam Miller writes for the North American Mission Board.)