On December 1, Alliance Theological Seminary gathered pastors and leaders to explore the question: How do we as churches be faithfully present to what God is doing in our neighborhoods? How do we open space for God to become visibly present, by His Spirit, bringing both disruption and healing, prophetic word and forgiveness, to the places of brokenness and injustice in the places where we live.

FAITHFUL PRESENCE: What is ‘faithful presence’?

LEADING CHURCHES TO ENGAGE: How do we lead a church to engage the cultures/issues and concerns surrounding it for the gospel?

BIG CHURCHES? SMALL CHURCHES? How does this happen in big churches? How does this happen in small churches?

Often we think engaging culture means appealing to the leaders of cultural institutions, business, educational institutions, art museums. Certainly this is good work. But could it be that we are to go and be present among the people that we live among, the hurting, those caught in injustice, and open space for God to do some new thing?  Our gathering was led by Rich Villodas and David Fitch to explore what God is doing in NYC and surrounding areas for engaging our hurting world with the gospel.


David Fitch is Lindner Chair of Evangelical theology at Northern Seminary, Chicago. He is an ordained pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance and currently pastors (along with 3 other pastors) the Peace of Christ Church of Westmont IL, USA. He coaches church planting for the Church Planting Institute, Chicago. He is married to Rae Ann and has one son Max. He has written for Christianity Today, OutReach Magazine, ChurchLeaders.com, EthicsDaily, and multiple other sites, magazines and journals. His most recent book is Faithful Presence: 7 Disciplines That Shape the Church For God’s Mission (IVP).


Pastor Rich Villodas has served as the Lead Pastor of New Life since October, 2013, succeeding Pete Scazzero. Prior to becoming Lead Pastor, he was a preaching pastor and gave oversight to small group ministry. Rich was born and raised in the East NY section of Brooklyn. He graduated with a BA degree in Pastoral Ministry and Theology from Nyack College. He went on to complete his Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary. Rich enjoys reading widely, preaching and writing on contemplative spirituality, justice-related issues and on the art of preaching. He’s been married to Rosie since 2006 and they have two children, Karis and Nathan.