Tyler Sit is a 2022 Seeds Fellow and the pastor of New City Church, a newly chartered congregation in the United Methodist Church in south Minneapolis. New City was a new church plant in 2015 and was officially chartered in the UMC in September 2022, meaning they are now a self-sustaining congregation. Pastor Sit is also the co-founder of a small business called Intersect, an organization that seeks to train church leaders with an intersectional lens. “We are really thinking through church planting from the implications of post-colonizer mentalities, an anti-racisim commitment and LGBTQ affirmation,” says Tyler.
The mission of New City is to be a church that focuses on environmental justice. “Environmental justice looks at things like racism, homophobia, and sexism, and asks how the destruction of the earth relates to all of them. The Gospel,” Sit says, “is not just good news for our individual souls, but all of Creation.” What makes New City Church fairly unique is that it is a congregation almost entirely made up of people from the Millenial and Gen Z generations and about 40-50% of the congregation identifies as LGBTQ.
What has Tyler learned about ministry to and with Millennials and Gen Z populations? The buzzword that gets thrown around a lot is “relevance” but what he finds to be even more appropriate is “responsiveness”. “A lot of people come to New City because they hear something devastating in the news on Thursday and want a church community to be able to process that with on Sunday.”
Older generations were educated in a very different way than younger generations, noting that earlier pedagogy was predominantly professional and more rote in its learning. Today people are going to and coming from educational environments that are much more participatory. “Millennials and Gen Z learn in education systems that are based on research that people learn a lot better when they participate in the creation of the thing. Similarly, co-creation continues to be our discipleship ethic at New City.”
One of the ministries born out of a co-creating ethic at New City is what they call the Incarnation Fund. The Incarnation Fund is a mental health reparation fund. “We support people of color in accessing therapy offered by practitioners of color, not just in Minneapolis but we also have had folks from New York, Birmingham and Chicago.” When reflecting on New City Church, Tyler said, “There’s not an amazing number of Methodist churches that have reached chartering, and I think that part of the reason why New City got to where we are is because of this real sense that people care about many different types of justice and want to model that in community at New City.”
Another paradigm shift Tyler advocated for was to shorten the expectations of our timelines when it comes to working with younger generations. The old models of asset-based community development that involve several years of community integration aren’t effective anymore because younger generations are so transient. “In several years the whole neighborhood will have moved or transitioned or changed. So there has to be a sustained commitment to listening and responsiveness, but also a willingness to go and run with something based on that listening in shorter iterations.”
New City has experimented with several ministries born out of their context. They have developed an anti-racism curriculum for white people supporting other white people in anti-racism work called Embodied Anti-Racism. Another ministry stems from the success of the Incarnation Fund. They discovered that people were able to heal so much that they themselves wanted to become agents of healing for others in their context. So they created what they call Community Healing Projects for alum from the Incarnation Fund. Participants create a project that New City supports, whether it be financially or through volunteering. Examples of this have been a historic bike tour through Black south Minneapolis sites, buying textbooks for a Montessori School with a large BIPOC student population, and a queer inclusive pop-up fashion shop.
According to Tyler, “A historic bike tour, a Montessori school, and a pop-up fashion shop have nothing to do with each other, but internally, the rubric is very simple. If you have experienced healing through this ministry, we’re supporting you and healing your community.”
If you would like to know more about Tyler or New City Church you can find him at https://www.tylersit.com/
New City Church: https://grownewcity.church/
New City Incarnation Fund: https://grownewcity.church/incarnation-fund
Intersect Network: https://www.intersectnetwork.co/
Facebook: New City Church – Minneapolis