Monday, February 28, 2005

God Working in Serendipitous Ways

Yesterday, I was killing some time with a friend in NYC between our visits of two churches, Mosaic Manhattan in the morning and Redeemer Presbyterian in the evening. After a great omlette a The Cupping Room on 5th Avenue, we walked a few miles north (so I could smoke a cigar), and then we jumped on the subway. We got off around 98th and walked south along the eastern border of Central Park. (Yes, we saw Christo's saffron "The Gates.")

We went into the Met to find a place to sit down and read for a couple hours until Redeemer started. Well, it turns out that yesterday was the last days of "The Gates," so the Met was the most crowded that it's been in years -- I mean it was crawling with thousands and thousands of people. Chris and I found our way to an atrium in the building, and, although there were people everywhere, a couple of chairs opened up just as we were walking around. So we sat down across from one another.

As I was getting out my book, I looked at the book laid across the lap of the guy next to me. It was The Search to Belong, an emergentYS book by Joe Myers. The guy looked like a Viking -- like the big guy with red hair who is Mel Gibson's right-hand-man in Braveheart. And he was asleep.

When he came to a couple moments later, I asked him, "How do you like that book?"

"I like it so far. It's really good. Why?" he asked.

"I'm actually on the editorial board that publishes that line of books," I told him.

"You're a part of Emergent?"

"Yeah, I'm on the Coordinating Group," I said.

"I love you guys!" he exclaimed.

Turns out his name is Jeff Kursonis, and he's feeling called by God to plant a church for artists (actors, musicians, visual artists, etc.) in NYC. He's a YWAM alumnus and moved to NYC a few years ago to be a professional songwriter/piano player. He's recently been involved in The Haven, a weekely parachurch ministry gathering of artists, and it's this experience that has led him to consider planting a church. He's been reading Emergent books, reading websites, and wondering how he could ever get connected to us.

And he wasn't sleeping. He was praying that God would give him a clear sign that he is on the right track in planting a church.

We talked for over an hour about Emergent, church planting, events, and connections. It was really great.

One of the things that talking with Jeff confirmed for me was that Emergent's role is likely a temporary one: to carve out a space in the institutional Christian church for artists, lovers, and mystics to take it the next step. We're using words, publishing, and logical arguments; they'll use dreams, art, and beauty.

So, join me in praying for Jeff and his dream of planting a church.

[UPDATE: Jeff came to our NJ Cohort last night and has commented below, and he's planning to start a blog. If anyone wants to email him, click here.]


Blogger Bill Arnold said...

Tony, do you think you could give me an e-mail address or something for Jeff? Alternatively, you coul just give him mine and tell him I'm interested in what he's doing.

12:46 PM  
Blogger bobbie said...

*tears* that is the best story i've heard in months tony, thank you for sharing it! i will be praying for jeff and would love for him to start a blog to keep us posted on the progress. those of us who dream the same dream need to know that god is still doing things like placing two people at the met just when they needed it to happen.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very, very cool... It is a God thing!

Mike King

3:39 PM  
Blogger Charlie McGlynn said...

You need to write a blog on LOTR, I think you a pro LOTR fan, which sucks. In any case, I believe that most emergent people or believers in that methodology are HUGE fans of LOTR. I am probably the only one who isn’t. Just an idea. I will keep thinking of idea’s for you to get a rise out of your readers.
In response to this entry, what a great man he must be. I am glad that you were there at that time and place.


3:52 PM  
Blogger Chad said...

Great story! Does this means that God is noticing us and not just DA Carson?

Will remember Jeff in prayer times.

Thanks for sharing this.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Tony, I also would love for you to share my e-mail or webpage with Jeff if and when you see him again. I have friends (Todd and Becky Foster) who have planted a faith community in the Bronx called the Bronx Fellowship of Christ ( It may be a good thing for them to connect.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Tony-

There's no doubt that we need to work hard to make room in the church for 'artists, lovers, and mystics'. They have been left out! The trick is, however, is to really integrate them with 'numbers people' (engineers, Wall Street people) in one body. Ephesians 2 tells me we need not only to bring together people of different races but also of different temperments. Not easy!

Tim Keller

5:41 AM  
Blogger tony said...

Assuming this is the Reedeemer Pres. Tim Keller, I thought you did a nice job integrating different temperments in your sermon on Sunday (I was at the 5:45 East Side service -- my first visit to Reedeemer). But I think we can probably both be accused of reductionism: people aren't *either* lovers or intellectuals, and people arent *either* feelers or fixers. Personalities are much more complex than that, but bipolar oppositions make good pedagogical tools.

It was a pleasure to see you in action.

5:50 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

Cool story and a great book! God's kingdom is ever expanding.

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Tony:

I wouldn't call that reductionism, but a generalization. It's almost impossible to do compelling communication without a measure of over-simplification. If you don't do a little of that the particular sermon dies the death of 1,000 qualifications. The way to overcome that somewhat is to be a bit simplistic in every particular communication but over the weeks and long-term bring out all the other aspects and perspectives. Thanks for the kind words!

Tim Keller

6:48 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Cool story! Thanks for sharing!

8:05 AM  
Blogger steph said...

Serendipity and humour seem to be a trademark of how "emergent" God is being seen, experienced and embraced.
Serendipity is a huge word in my current journey and this story confirms that is is part of how the Spirit is taking us along.
Thank you for sharing

10:42 AM  
Blogger Bryan said...


I have been very encouraged by the "emergent" dialogue over the last couple of years. It's so refreshing to know that there are so many out there that are uncomfortable with the modern evangelical church's agenda. It's nice that we can worship God again instead of ourselves.

Your recent book, "The Sacred Way" has really challenged my me in my prayer life. I'm grateful for the insight. Godspeed.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a jappy finding, this blog postage


12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pardon my arthritic flinch above but I meant to say

Such a happy finding, this blog postage


12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


was just wondering if you could expound upon the role of Emergent, in it being temporary, and what you think the next step is after Emergent.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is an awesome story! I will be praying for Jeff!

9:35 AM  
Blogger Jeff Kursonis said...

Post on Tony’s Blog

Hi everyone, this is Jeff from the post. I want to thank you for your amazing, encouraging words. This Sunday when God placed Tony in that seat next to me was plenty of encouragement, but all this follow-up has been really amazing.

I went to the cohort meeting last night with Tony, and I felt so warmly received. The thing that was so amazing is that all my involvement with emergent so far has been online and with books, and I have been longing to connect to fellow humans – to have it happen so miraculously has been a sweet personal kindness from the Lord to me. When Tony and I said Goodbye at the Met and I walked away, I began to cry as I felt God’s presence so sweetly. It was a pretty awesome thing.

Last night I was encouraged to start my own blog, and I will be calling it: Communion of the Arts. Give me a little time to get it up and running, but I hope you will visit it and we can continue to build the relationships that the Lord has inaugurated.

Ps. If Tim Keller is still there – I am in your church planting partner training program – which I love and appreciate, (it is so noble because they plant many kinds of churches, not just their own). I am so amazed you responded to this blog. I forwarded it to Mark Reynolds also.

Blessings to all.

1:08 PM  
Blogger david said...

Hey Tony - Patricia is going to love this piece - I know I do - great work...

7:50 AM  
Blogger jch said...

I would love to hear more of your thoughts, Tony, on your Mosaic and Redeemer experiences. I'm in NYC planting a church in Brooklyn and would not classify either of those churches as "emergent" but then again, the terminology is so fluid I'm not sure what I would classify as "emergent". my blog

11:31 AM  
Blogger Dustin said...

Hey JCH, Not sure I've hooked up with you yet. I helped start Mosaic in 2002 and am now helping to start a new church in the East Village that will start this fall. Just saw that you are planting a church in Brooklyn and would love to sit down and talk sometime and see what is going on.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, my name is kyle. I'm interested in being involved in the emergent. I have a site Would love for you to read some of my latest post and tell me what you think. I simply want to follow and love God more.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Shane Tucker said...

Very encouraging to see God directing the steps of His followers. Humbling to be reminded that all of this is His work and we need to constantly create space for Him to do what He does best! Inspiration for a dreamer living in Ireland!

Dreamers of the Day

4:03 AM  
Blogger c said...

What!?! Tony Jones believes in God?!?!

Well crap, now I'm really confused. Last I heard from the rumor mill is that Mr. Jones is actually a cyborg constructed by the liberal media to unhinge the powerful religious right from their clutches of world-domination. Not only that, but they built Project Emergent (the media's project name for Mr. Jones) from a single strand of Brian McLaren's DNA.

Geez I have too much time on my hands. Nice story.

6:42 AM  

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