Commissional Corner May 2024: NYC Church Planting

The washing feet statue on the DBU campus

Over spring break, Dr. Mark Alexander took students enrolled in the INCS 4336/MAGL 5336-Current Trends: Urban Church Planting class to Queens, New York. They had the opportunity to serve alongside Larry Holcomb at the United Trinity Church, and the trip provided a chance for the participants to experience a new environment.

group of people

While working with Larry Holcomb, students had the valuable opportunity to learn from his insights on church planting strategies. In addition to serving the community, students fostered relationships with community members through activities such as attending a prayer breakfast and participating in craft classes. Students also stepped outside for a prayer walk through Jackson Heights, where they encountered many immigrants. They also had the opportunity to visit a local mosque and meet with an Afghan refugee family Holcomb had been working with. One of the students, Haley Mathews, expressed, "It was empowering to witness people from numerous nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds partake in genuine, intimate community with one another." Building relationships with the community is crucial for successful church planting efforts. To support this initiative, students assisted in passing out flyers to promote enrollment in free computer, ESL (English as a second language), and citizenship classes.

Students were asked about their most significant takeaway from this trip. One of the participants said, "The biggest takeaway I had from this trip was how not all churches look the same. Being in the 'Bible Belt,' I was so used to the big churches here in Dallas. In my mind, that was what a church is 'supposed' to look like. I never viewed a church as just a building but as the people who make up a body of believers. This trip truly showed me the possibility of being a small church body with a strong faith."

Hayley Mathews noted, "Through this trip, I was reminded that multicultural spaces exist in the U.S., primarily in urban areas. Going to nations to share the gospel is wonderful, but it is important to recognize how the nations have come to us. I have no doubt that I will use this experience to serve cross-culturally here in America as well as out of the country."

group of people at the airport with suitcases

Church planting is not easy, so it is important to approach it with an open mind and willingness to adapt to whatever may come. Here is some advice from the participants. Haley Mathews shared, "My advice to anyone attending this trip would be to seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Be slow to speak and quick to listen." She continued, "There is so much to learn from other believers, and it is always best to maintain a teachable spirit and humble heart." Another student advised, "Do not let fear or hesitation take over. Going into this trip, we had pretty much no idea what it would look like or what exactly the Lord would have us do. If you go in with an open, humble, and flexible mindset, then you will have a good experience no matter what happens."

For more information about the Spring 2025 trip, please contact Dr. Mark at (214) 333-5929 or

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Written by The Graduate School of Ministry

The Graduate School of Ministry provides training for individuals who sense God's call to ministry. The mission of the Graduate School of Ministry integrates foundations of Christian faith and values with professional academic studies.