Church Planting

GenSend: Discovering God’s Missional Heart in Urban Areas in North America

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When considering what to do with my summers as a seminary or college student, there were many options that all present unique and exciting opportunities to be explored. Throughout my time as a student at Southeastern, first in The College and now in the Seminary, I have chosen to utilize my summers to explore how God is at work in our world firsthand. For the summer of 2021, I went on a collegiate church planting internship sponsored by the North American Mission Board, known as GenSend. GenSend offered me the chance to take the theology and ministerial knowledge that I learned in the classroom and apply it in a real-world setting. I was also given the opportunity to work with other college student from around the country, under the supervision of a church planter. My time as a GenSend Intern was spent in New York City, working with a church plant in the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood of the Lower West Side of Manhattan called One Community Church. OCC had begun the process of planting in a neighborhood with few Gospel preaching church in 2020, but had been stalled in their work until the spring of 2021. I worked with a team comprised of four students from various colleges around America to assist our pastor, Chris Mills, with building connections and laying the groundwork for his first church service in July of that summer.

My time in the New York began on May 31, 2021, with time spent exploring the city as a whole and the neighborhood I was going to living and working in. Hell’s Kitchen is a neighborhood with a rich cultural identity yet lacks in possessing a vibrant gospel identity due to few churches within its boundaries. This lack of access to the Gospel of Christ in this neighborhood truly broke my heart and caused me to understand just how deeply lost people truly are, even in my own nation. The neighborhood also has a rich history, causing many residents to see their personal identity as being tied to the place that they call home. Our team worked towards the goal of forming deep connections for the church that would continue long after summer. We also aimed to create a Gospel Movement that would extend far beyond any of us. In this work we spent time in prayer, Bible study, and time in the neighborhood each week.

Of all the opportunities that you could take part in for your summer, GenSend is one of the best that you can find.


The aim of GenSend was for each intern, including myself, to spend forty hours per week in our neighborhood, much as our church planter and church planting team did. This time was designed to be spent visiting important local sites, meeting people, and becoming engrained into the culture of the neighborhood as much as possible. This time was also spent working to develop a prospectus. A prospectus is a document that details the history and culture of a neighborhood, important people, known as persons of peace, that help a church planter become a part of the culture, strategies for creating a Gospel Movement, and more. Send Network, the church planting arm of the North American Mission Board, had each planter create this to facilitate their work in the first few years of forming their church. This project allowed the team and I to function like our church planter during the summer and experience what their world looks like on a daily basis. This project was compiled as we put on events in the community, met locals, and learned our way in Hell’s Kitchen.

I am grateful that the Lord allowed me to experience the realities of life as an urban church planter with GenSend. By God’s grace, our work thrived, and we saw a congregation of roughly eighty people come to our first church service on July 18, 2021. Today, One Community Church continues to thrive, as more people come to know Jesus in Hell’s Kitchen and beyond. God used my time in New York City to open my eyes to His love for those in difficulty contexts and drew me into a calling to return to the city following my studies to one day plant a church in NYC myself. My time as a GenSend Intern was truly transformational as God opened my heart to His love for others and stirred in me a love for those in New York City.

If you are a Southeastern student, I encourage you to go on a GenSend Internship. You will take what you have learned in your seminary classes and apply it in places across North America that truly need Christ. Without my time as a GenSend Intern, I would not be the person I am today, studying to obtain a Master of Divinity in North American Church Planting, to one day be a part of God’s work in cities in North America. Of all the opportunities that you could take part in for your summer, GenSend is one of the best that you can find. Let this opportunity change your life and the lives of others, as God uses GenSend to reveal your calling to ministry and draws many to know Christ as their Lord and Savior.

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Jonathan Clayton

Jonathan Clayton is an MDiV Student, concentrating on North American Church Planting. Growing up in Oklahoma, in a pastor’s home, the faith and fulfilling the Great Commission were instilled in him from a young age. In the future, he hopes to plant churches in urban contexts and see lives changed by the Gospel in cities in North America. Jonathan enjoys writing, reading, and hanging out with friends and family in his free time.

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