By: Christa Meland
After spending nine months in hands-on ministry at a six-year-old church in Chicago, Tyler Sit has returned to his home state of Minnesota—and after being commissioned in May, he recently began planting a church in Minneapolis.
The Minnesota Conference sponsored Sit’s participation in a church-planter residency program through the global United Methodist Church’s Discipleship Ministries. Through the program, participants engage in an intensive learning experience at a large and vital church start while their home conference helps support them. After the experience, the planter returns to the sponsoring conference to start a new church.
Sit was a resident at Urban Village Church, which has launched four sites since it began in 2009. He was housed at the River North site, where he preached, provided pastoral care, and engaged in many other aspects of ministry.
“Urban Village taught me how to communicate an evangelistic fervor for the love of Jesus in a way that wasn’t exclusive or judgmental,” said Sit, 26, who attended seminary at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.
Sit said he also learned firsthand how to make outreach fun. He recalls going out with groups to sing Christmas carols on trains, handing out recipes at farmer’s markets, and inviting passers-by to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday.
His primary project during his time at Urban Village involved creating and launching a formal volunteer leader and coach training program. Leaders of each ministry team received formal training and a playbook to guide them—and each person had a coach (who wasn’t the pastor) to learn from, bounce ideas off of, and address challenges with.
“I’m passionate about helping people realize their spiritual gifts in hands-on ministry and helping to create a healthy church culture where people know they’re capable of affecting change and know they can rely on each other and trust each other because they have common skills and values,” said Sit.
His experience at Urban Village has prepared him to share the love of God and form disciples in Minnesota, where he grew up and where he’s held membership at three United Methodist churches.
New Minneapolis church
Sit is focused on the Phillips-Powderhorn neighborhood of Minneapolis, and the church he’s planting is focused on environmental justice, which he describes as “the intersection between racial, economic, and ecological justice.” It’s a mission he believes will resonate with Millennials and older adults alike. (Check out the church’s website by clicking here.)
“The solution to all of these lies in God and the grace of Jesus Christ,” said Sit, who comes from a bi-racial family.
“What God has told me and what I hear God telling the community is that we can only truly find racial reconciliation, economic equality, and ecological healing through the grace of Jesus Christ.”
His first steps in planting a church involve immersing himself in the mission field and its culture to learn about its people as well as its assets and challenges. Eventually, the new church will begin hosting events that are open to the public—and then launch weekly worship.
At least in the near-term, Sit will be bi-vocational. His church-planting appointment is part time, and this summer, he’s also working part time for the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s “Growing for Good” program, an urban gardening program for youth; his focus is communications.
Five years from now, Sit hopes to have established a solid church leadership team that represents at least three ethnic groups—and he hopes to have a congregation with no racial majority (meaning each group represents less than half of the total membership). He would also like to be at a point where the church is ready to plant a second or third site and is training other pastors looking to start a multi-site or multi-ethnic ministry.
He said one of the things Urban Village taught him is that “multi-site ministry is not the only way forward for the future of the church, but it is certainly one important way forward for the future of the church,” in part because it provides a way to replicate the DNA of a healthy church and in part because it allows the sharing of limited resources among multiple sites.
“Most of all, I hope that the church can grow to be an influential voice in the culture of Minneapolis so that we could have an impact in social justice,” said Sit. “I would hope that we’re making disciples of Jesus Christ and training disciples not only in skills for living healthily in a diverse church, but skills for reaching out to the world and healing the world with the love of God.”
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church