Church Highlight: Staten Island Church Plant

Jenna DiPrima Church Highlight 0

Your name: Alan Skiles

Your spouse and children’s names: Grace (spouse), Jeffrey Luke (6), Olivia (3), Leah (1)

Name of your church: TBD

Location of church: Staten Island

Date church was planted (if your church is a plant): 2017

Name of partnering church(es): Christ Our Hope Church, Clifton, NJ & North Conway Baptist Church, Conway, SC

What are the reasons you decided to plant a church in your city (if your church is a plant)?

Staten Island is the forgotten Borough of New York City. Former home of the largest landfill in the world, it is currently undergoing a transition that spans its physical, social, ethnic and spiritual realms; not the least of which is its transition from a culturally catholic atmosphere to an emerging, post-Christian, pluralistic society. The best way to impact this population is the multiplication of churches during the transition, through which God’s people can be salt and light, having something prophetic to say about the direction the culture takes in the next 20-30 years.

What have you seen the Lord do in and through your church/church plant?

So far we’ve found ourselves partnering with other planters on the island to do everything from serving the community with a free Easter Egg hunt to providing Bible Study to thirsty members of non-evangelical churches that have lost their focus on the gospel and impact on the community. We’ve also been encouraging a small Baptist congregation that has been without a pastor for nearly two years by providing occasional pulpit supply and pastoral care for those who’ve been sick, injured or lost loved ones during this time.

What do you hope to see the Lord do in and through your church in the future?

Our passion is to entice people to pursue God’s heart together in a spiritual community that then blesses its neighborhood in the context of family. We believe that the pursuit of God’s heart in the context of a community will strengthen families and lead us to see what the Gospel says about what goes on inside the home and in the neighborhood. We hope to see churches multiplied, addicts restored to their families, young people given a Gospel vision for their future and generations connected to one another under the common joy of being redeemed by the Savior.

What advice do you have for current or future church planters?

Listen more than you do anything else and never stop. Listening sharpens my focus on how to minister. The closer to my ministry context that I can get with my listening, the better. Listen to your neighbors, other local pastors – even from other faith traditions, and seek out those who’ve been in your community for their whole lives. Their perspective helps you see where the community has been, how it got to where it is now, and where it is going in the future.

What else would you like to share with the readers of our blog?

Staten Island is not exempt from the national opioid crisis. With a number that included 90 fatal heroin overdoses in 2016, Staten Island has the highest “rate of overdose deaths involving any substance” in all of New York City. For more information, read these two articles from local news sources in New York:

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/typical-heroin-overdoses-staten-island-article-1.3181890

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/about/press/pr2017/pr048-17.page

Join us in exploring this crisis in your neighborhood and prayerfully consider (as we are) how you need to respond as a church leader.

What are your 3-4 main prayer requests?

  • Pray for clarity on how we should interact with the local Baptist congregation mentioned above. Multiplication and true cultural impact is the goal. We are currently evaluating whether or not we would be better positioned to accomplish those goals by throwing in with that congregation or starting something from scratch.
  • Pray that God will give us an effective platform to reach men on the island. So far, our best impact has been on ladies (praise the Lord!), but we struggle to sustain solid connection to men who see the value in following Christ. The church on Staten Island needs more male leaders to emerge, and we know that they’ll have to come from the harvest.
  • Pray that I’ll be able to balance my time between my career in the marketplace and my posture to the community as a pastor and church planter. Pray for intersections between the two that redeem the limited time there is to be completely obedient to my calling.

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About Jenna DiPrima

Jenna DiPrima graduated from Clemson University in 2009 with a degree in English and received her Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in May 2015. Prior to coming on staff with the Pillar Network, Jenna worked as the Assistant Director of Generation LINK for several years. Jenna and her husband Alex live in Winston-Salem, NC are they are in the beginning stages of planting Emmanuel Church.