After one year of living in New York City, Lauren and I are moving back to Oklahoma City. Lauren has accepted a new job at Hobby Lobby that will ground here in Oklahoma City for the future. I will continue to speak to churches on behalf of Museum of the Bible. We hope to make it back to New York City often. We have loved our time in Gotham. We have learned so much over the past twelve months I could not put it all down. But I wanted to share four things I learned during our time in New York City.
1. People in New York City Are Not Jerks
New Yorkers are known to be jerks. At least, that’s always how they are portrayed in movies, “Hey! Watch where ya goin’!” When we moved in, I fully expected to be known as the nice southern couple in the building. I typically greet strangers and engage in small talk, and New Yorkers are jerks that just keep to themselves, right? Wrong. My apartment building must have been the exception. Everyone introduced themselves and offered their help. Maybe the cold New Yorkers are not jerks after all. They are just cold. Literally, it’s freezing there and they have to walk outside everywhere and tourists are always in the way.
I can say, the perceived short fuse they have for tourists is real, but give NYC a pass. Imagine if in your city there were literally millions of drivers on the road that had zero idea where they were going. On top of that, these foreign drivers drove around your office gazing at the buildings on idle as if they are strolling through a Christmas lights park. You would get frustrated trying to get around them as they swerve and weave all over the street on your way to the office or to meet your family for dinner. That’s essentially what’s happening when tourists open-mouth gawk at all of NYC's incredible highlights. Cut the New Yorkers a break. They’re just trying to get to their next meeting.
2. Transportation in New York City Is Convenient
I loved walking everywhere. I miss it. New York City has public transportation down to a science. There are definitely times subway lines are closed or it's freezing cold and I really miss my car. Or whenever we are going to the grocery store and we cannot just load everything in the trunk, but have to load up our arms with our bags and shuffle back to the apartment building. But all in all, I really love getting to walk everywhere.
One of our favorite NYC memories was when Lindy & Amy were visiting. It was the coldest weekend of the year, and everyone was getting around via subway to keep warm. Check out the video of Lauren's Rat Attack!
3. The Church in New York City Needs You
The Church in New York City is filled with people who love Christ, the Church, and are committed to the city. New York City was less than 1% Christian in 1989. Many of the challenges Christians face from a secular culture have existed in New York City for decades. Yet, despite the opposition, the percentage of Christians in center city New York has increased from <1% in 1989 to over 5% today!
But what if NYC could go from being 5% Christian to 15% Christian in the next decade? Lauren and I are both thrilled with the vision and efforts of The New York Project. They are working to equip the local church in NYC through planting churches, training leaders, and sharing meeting space. This effort is led by Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Lauren and I would frequently attend a service on Sunday to worship with this large, multi-ethnic, young church that is passionate about seeing New York City transformed by the gospel.
We would swing by the Redeemer service anytime we could, but we considered ourself a part of an exciting new church plant. Cross Church NYC is in Yorkville on the East Side of Manhattan. Drew and Emily Griffin moved there to start this church a few years ago. This is the first Southern Baptist church plant on the island of Manhattan in half a decade. Their work is vitally important to the church in NYC. Would you pray for them and support them if you can? Also, send New Yorkers you know their way!
4. Time in New York City Moves Fast
We lived in New York City for one year. Twelve months. Time went by so fast. The hustle of New York City is exciting. There is a buzz in the air. You wake up, walk outside, and you can sense the drive in people to make a difference. People don't move to New York City to coast. People move because they are ambitious. If they can make it here, they'll make it anywhere. There's a reason NYC is the most influential city in the world (London and D.C. have a case for this title as well).
One thing that surprised me, how easy it was to live away from OKC. I didn't expect it to be, and I honestly didn't want it to be easy. In fairness, I was in OKC often and we traveled a lot. So I know I didn't have the full experience. But it gave me confidence that we don't need OKC. We love OKC. We believe we will be in OKC for a long time. But if God were to call us away, that's okay. And if God calls you to move jobs, locations, or something else, you will be okay, too.