Collegiate Navs ministry in NYC integrates faith and work for cultural impact
Even if 80 percent of the population of a country are Christian believers, they will have almost no cultural influence if the Christians do not live in the cultural centers and work in culture-forging fields such as academia, publishing, media, entertainment, and the arts.
— from Center Church by Timothy Keller, NYC pastor
This summer, 10 Navigator college students will have a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in New York City’s world-shaping culture while participating in dynamic Navigator ministry.
Peter and Amanda Trautmann, leaders of the New York University Collegiate Navs ministry, will be hosting NYC’s first-ever Summer Training Program from June 16 to July 31, 2014. NYC Urban Immersion will bring students to the nation’s cultural capital to be equipped in evangelism, discipleship, and the integration of their faith and work in an urban setting—a setting many of them will call home upon graduation.
Students will have the chance to serve throughout the city, and gain real-world exposure to passionate people of faith who are living boldly for Christ in some of our nation’s most influential professional fields. Students can look for their own jobs or internships, but organizers have also secured eight paid and two unpaid internships with various partners throughout the city. The group will also tour the world-famous metropolis in all its diversity and excitement.
“I think they’ll definitely walk away with God’s heart for the city,” Peter says. “Jerusalem was the spiritual capital, but God was also calling Paul to go to the political, economic, and cultural capital of Rome. God has always wanted His people to be involved in reaching the cities with His light.”
Colleges, Cities, and Culture
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the greater New York City Metro area is home to 1.3 million college students—truly, this is America’s College Town. The city is bursting with young culture-creators. Walking the halls of NYU-Polytechnic, the university’s engineering school in Brooklyn, is like walking the halls of the United Nations.
“You reach New York, you reach the world,” Peter says. “These students are in New York because they want to succeed in these influential fields—finance, media, communications, the arts, film, advertising and marketing . . . . We have to reach the universities, and we have to reach where culture is being made.”
Relevant, community-rich ministry is also crucial.
“Often with this generation, students need to belong before they can believe,” Peter says. “They need to belong to a community that accepts and loves them and really communicates the Gospel through actions and words before they can really start accepting absolute truths . . . . The bridge of love needs to be strong enough that there can be high traffic of truth going across both ways.”
Peter says NYU has been blessed with a deeply vulnerable, honest, and authentic community where people can share their brokenness and recognize their need for a Savior.
“This is very labor-intensive work,” Peter says. “It really requires hands on the plow and hearts on the street . . . . The Navigators taught me to care for each individual and make sure that each individual is growing. That kind of focus on quality is going to lead to the quantity.”
Discipling in a global city like New York presents quite a learning curve, and a significant need for sensitivity and intentionality.
“It is so essential for us to understand our audience—to understand the questions people are really asking right now,” Peter says. “Any time you’re ministering cross-culturally, you want to understand the people you’re reaching. You want to understand their culture. You want to be not only fluent in their language, but eloquent.”
In all its buzz and beauty, New York is still a city filled with people in pain. Student suicides. Heroin addictions. Spiritual confusion. Peter believes this is exactly where Jesus wants His people to plant deep roots and “settle down” (see Jeremiah 29:4-14).
“Jesus brought the Gospel to the hard places,” Peter says. “We need to be entering people’s pain.”
That includes the young freshman despairing in his dorm room, the executives on the skyscraper’s 91st floor, and the immigrants wondering how to make ends meet in a cramped Brooklyn apartment. This is where hearts and societies shift, and where Christ-followers must engage.