Pastor Builds Church from Walking the Streets of Brooklyn, New York

Anne Baldwin, blue t-shirt, Southern Seminary GenSend Team
Travis Minogue, white t-shirt, Southern Seminary GenSend Team
James Roberson, Pastor

When James Roberson arrived in Brooklyn to plant a church, he began walking the streets. Much like a door-to-door salesman, he was looking for prospects with no leads.

Each morning during his quiet time, he would ask God what to do. In the New Testament book of Acts, he noted, “These guys just kind of walked around and prayed.” So his strategy was to prayerwalk Brooklyn, asking God to open doors. And God answered his prayers for Bridge Church.

When Camille Mumford started attending Bridge Church in Brooklyn with her husband, she regularly sent Roberson quotes from New Age advocate Deepak Chopra. The Cleveland native wasn’t too sure about what she was hearing from Roberson, but she was sure nobody in the church’s City Groups would understand her.

Still, she continued to attend the small-group gatherings and learned the importance of discovering community, particularly when living in a new city. Within three months, she volunteered to bring food. Three months later, she started participating. Today, she can’t imagine living in New York City without her Bridge Church family.

Two years before Rich Bowman met Roberson, he had been an atheist. Although he recently had professed faith in Christ, Bowman and his wife, Emmy, had not joined a church. After finding one of Roberson’s online blog posts, he contacted the pastor.

The Bowmans appeared introverted. Rich was “super quiet,” never interjecting during City Group Bible studies. Emmy would hide in the Robersons’ bedroom because she didn’t want to interact.

Today, she’s the primary person Bridge Church women seek for discipleship, and he preaches for Roberson at the Bridge Church. Next September, he will be the pastor of the Bridge Church’s first church plant in Flatbush, N.Y.

When Roberson sees Rich, who was “basically a mute,” now preaching, and sees Emmy discipling women, he can only explain it one way.

“It’s a Holy Spirit thing,” Roberson said.

When Jessica Powell attended a poetry reading, the college senior wasn’t looking for a church, she wanted to meet the featured poet. She also met someone who invited her to a Bridge Church Bible study.

Powell lives in Queens, a 90-minute train ride to Brooklyn. She had made a profession of faith in Christ and was eager to grow in her faith. At the City Group led by Roberson, she received a handout on the topic of love, sex and dating. By the end of the study, Powell had drawn a conclusion.

“God, this is where you want me to be,” she said.

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SOURCE: The Baptist Standard
Jim Burton, North American Mission Board