We desire to expand God’s kingdom with evangelism and teaching in Bayside, Queens. Hope East Queens strives to be an authentic & diverse Christ-centered Christian community in Bayside, NY that would grow through knowing God both intellectually & experientially, enabling us to be used to sacrificially serve our neighbors. Our aim is to join God in the renewal of Eastern Queens and the city of New York. We believe that like the Old Testament patriarch Abraham, God sends people to specific locations, not simply to be blessed, but also to be a blessing towards others (Genesis 12:1-2). It is within this context that Hope East Queens exists to be a multi-ethnic Christian community who seeks the well-being of the neighborhood of Bayside through Sunday gatherings, evangelism, discipleship, missional communities, and Home Groups.
Our primary mission is to reach the unchurched, as the town of Bayside has one church per roughly every 3000 people. Our secondary goal is to spark revival in Eastern Queens among those who have been previously burned (or burnt out) by the Christian church. In 2017, we did a survey of our congregation which showed that 21% of our attendees had not been attending church regularly prior to coming to our church, and of the 79% that had been attending a church regularly, 85% of them had left because they were either burned or burnt out. This confirms the enormous need for revival and restoration in the area. One of the most common narratives in speaking to people of the region is that they had left the Christian church because they were either; 1) worked too hard by the church, and/or 2) judged by the church, and/or 3) experienced oppression from an authoritative pastor, and/or 4) the pastor grew too powerful, and/or 5) the people were too fake, and/or 6) the church did not give back to the community or help the poor, oppressed, or fight injustice in this city.
We seek to address these areas by strongly emphasizing certain values such as (just to name a few); 1) Authenticity – “We believe that a congregation which meets in authenticity walks in the light whereas one that gathers in masks walks in the darkness. Thus, we encourage genuine sharing/fellowship without condemnatory judgment”; 2) Placing Christ at the Center of the Church (as opposed to the pastor) – “The bad news is that we are not a perfect church; we are a body of broken pastors, leaders and congregation members. The good news is that Jesus Christ did not die for the perfect, but for the broken, and thus we believe He is the only one who is worthy of our worship”; 3) A Culture of a Mission for the Neighborhood – “The church does not simply give a community of emotional support for Christians, but also models the alternate human society God is creating; the church is called to be a counter-culture to the neighborhood, thereby keeping our radically distinct beliefs but at the same time sacrificially serving our neighbors.”
For many living in Eastern Queens, the good news is that you are not defined by your world achievements, or, for those who have experienced prior church burnout, by your “Christian” deeds, but rather, you are defined by God’s affirmation in your life through sacrificing His son Jesus Christ. In response to what God has done, we are able to live a life that is not held captive by consumerism, materialism and even legalism, but instead we are able to respond to God’s grace by living generous lives solely because of what Christ has done for us. Our generosity allows us to take part in Jesus’ kingdom and gain an increased awareness of who He is as we give towards what He cares about and who He cares for. It is within this context that we have been outwardly missional in the neighborhood of Bayside, Queens through just some the following means: 1) We attend community gatherings at the 111 Precinct once a month and have partnered with its domestic violence unit to help spread awareness and resources; 2) We do monthly cleaning at a homeless shelter; and 3) we set up dates and times for members and people in the neighborhood to join in making homeless care-packages that will be delivered to the poor in the city.
The second way the gospel penetrates the people of Eastern Queens is through communicating a Gospel of healthy rhythms. The prior church culture that many of the people in Eastern Queens experienced has been of intense church-life without rest (that led to burnout), whereas by contrast, we believe in allowing people to connect and serve in a manner that is healthy (and leads to the transformative love of God). We wish to bring people to a place of emotional and spiritual health through seeking professional emotional/spiritual assistance (such as therapy). For example, many people that we have surveyed in our Eastern Queens congregation have said that they would (or need to) see a therapist but they simply cannot afford one. Since having an emotionally healthy congregation is an important value to us (especially in the context of burnt out Christians and New Yorkers), we wish to develop funding for specific situations where congregants who need to see Christian therapists or professionals have access to them without worrying about financial burden. One way we have done this in the past is through hiring our own professional therapist (Laura Speiller) to serve on our staff.
Although we officially launched in May of 2016, we are continually building relationships in Eastern Queens as if we are a brand new church plant. 96% of our attendees are from Eastern Queens (specifically Bayside, Little Neck, Fresh Meadows, Flushing, Whitestone, Auburndale, College Point, Oakland Gardens, Glen Oaks Bay Terrace and Douglaston); which gives us great joy and has been life-giving, particularly because David and his wife Jany planted this church with the specific purpose of ministering to the people of this neighborhood.