Pastor Ricky Ortiz came to New York City with big plans as he started Meta Church. No, he isn’t planning a megachurch in Times Square or anywhere else in the city for that matter.
But, as Ricky looks 30 years into the future, he doesn’t just see one church, either.
He sees 50 Meta communities spread throughout New York City, embedded with the gospel in local neighborhoods.
“New York is very neighborhood-oriented,” Ricky says. “People live in their neighborhoods. They like what happens in their neighborhoods. And so we want to start communities—Meta communities throughout the various neighborhoods in the five boroughs in New York—so people can experience church and transformation right in their neighborhood and take ownership of it without having to leave the neighborhood they love.”
The Challenge of New York City
Starting that many gospel communities is a tough order anywhere, but particularly in New York City. For example, you’ll find finances on the top of many New York City lists of ministry challenges.
Many publications rank the Big Apple as the most expensive city in the US to live. (Just think of it this way: The average New Yorker has to spend at least half of his or her income on housing costs alone.)
As Ricky looked into ways for Meta Church to engage the community, he realized many of the opportunities would require additional funds.The young church particularly focused on three specific projects.
- Advance the gospel locally by securing a meeting venue where Meta Church could meet weekly and expand the team.
- Advance the gospel globally by investing in equipment and technology to produce, edit, and distribute sermons online through social media, online, and the Meta Church app.
- Advance the gospel globally by supporting church plant efforts around the world.
Less than a year old, the church didn’t yet have a vast network of donors to lean on, but the church aimed high anyway, setting what seemed like an unreachable goal of $15,000. Ricky did whatever it took to get the word out about the new initiative. He told the church body. He emailed supporters. His wife put a link on her blog.
Ricky pointed everyone to the church’s mobile app and online giving options as he did this. Before the church had even launched, Meta Church partnered with Pushpay for its digital giving platform.
At first, the giving solution had been the most important reason Meta Church signed on with Pushpay, but over time the mobile has become a key part of how the church has developed community.
“A Pushpay app is quite compatible with the way we live life here in New York,” Ricky says. “People live on their phones. It’s been a massive support for us in being able to help people get connected, give, and contribute to what we’re doing.”
Most of the church’s giving comes in through the app. It also provides the church a place for attendees to access sermons, read devotionals, check out social media accounts, find Bible reading plans, etc.
“We do an offering every Sunday, but we’ve never passed a plate, not once,” Ricky says. “Instead, every week we tell people to take out their phone and text META to 77977, download the app, or go online. Those are the three ways to give.”
Thanks, in part, to digital giving, Meta Church raised close to $23,000 during the Christmas campaign—topping the $15,000 goal by more than 50 percent. Because of the open nature of digital giving, donations came in from people Ricky and others from the church didn’t even know. In total, people from seven different countries and several states gave to the campaign.
“It felt unexpected and was a massive surprise,” Ricky says.
Through those gifts, the church had the opportunity to meet—and exceed—all the aims of the project. They secured a meeting location. They bought a camera and streaming equipment (they recently exceeded 9,000 views). They’ve also supported two church plants (in Kigali, Rwanda, and Battambang, Cambodia) by providing six months of funding for meeting locations.
But Ricky believes the campaign did more than just provide funds for the young church’s neighborhood engagement efforts. It gave the church a glimpse of what God could through them.
“We have this little slogan or mantra that we often repeat with our team,” Ricky says. “It’s simply, ‘God alone.’ We say it. We repeat it. We talk about it. We believe it. We live it. That’s what the giving campaign was all about. When I cast the vision for it to our team, it was shocking. But we knew God would have to do a major work for it to happen. This campaign has not only padded people’s faith, but it created a new sense of expectation. If He did that then, what is He going to do now?”
Meta Church can’t wait to find out.
So if a small church plant in New York City can surpass its giving goal by more than 50 percent thanks to digital giving, what about your church?
Click here to talk to a Pushpay expert to see how a digital giving platform can help your church plant, missions team, or international campaign raise the necessary funds quickly and easily. It’s easy to get started with a giving platform that will revolutionize giving in your ministry.
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