To Tyler Sit, the real-world impact of belief is important.
Sit has worked hard to make his faith a part of social change as pastor and church planter of Minneapolis-based New City Church; the founder of Intersect; and the author of Staying Awake: The Gospel for Changemakers.
Sit will speak on the impact of faith at 2 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy as a part of Week Four of the Interfaith Lecture Series and its theme “Religious Faith and Everything Else We Believe In.”
A church planter “starts congregations from the ground up,” Sit said.
“Instead of going into an established church, I gathered some friends in the living room and we started our own church,” he said. “Eventually, it outgrew the living room and outgrew many, many more spaces to eventually us becoming a self-sustaining church on our own.”
While there are many New City Churches in the United States, Sit said they are not affiliated with his United Methodist congregation.
“ ‘New City Church’ as a name is inspired by Revelation 21 in the Bible,” he said. “We picked that name after reading that story which has a significant image of the new city as being kind of a symbol of God’s hope for the world.”
The church has an emphasis on centering marginalized voices.
“That emphasis isn’t extracurricular to being a Christian, but a core component,” he said. “For us, we look at the life of Jesus and we saw how he moved out to the margins of society, and we feel that we’re called to do the very same thing.”
Sit does not see progressive Christianity as “primarily political with a theological justification slapped onto it,” he said; rather, the “natural outcome” of being a person of faith is “seeking justice in the world.”
Before becoming a United Methodist pastor, Sit trained as a prison chaplain, a community organizer and a social entrepreneur, according to his website.
“Community organizers are dedicated to listening to the felt needs of a community and then organizing that community to advocate for systemic change so that those needs might be met,” Sit said. “Social entrepreneurship is using business logic and business models towards social good.”
Sit is also the founder of Intersect, which he said is a “network of church planters who are dedicated to intersectional justice,” trying to look at “how all of our identities stacked on top of each other create different intersectional understandings of the world.”
“You hear some church plants saying, ‘We’re reclaiming this city for Jesus,’ or, ‘We’re introducing God into the world,’ ” Sit said. “We’re trying to approach it more from a lens of the Holy Spirit already moving among marginalized people, and the church’s job is to kind of accelerate or catalyze or transform that work.”
In his talk today, Sit will discuss backing up faith with action. To Sit, it matters that “beliefs translate into action, and that our actions can tie back to our beliefs.”
He said he hopes his message will inspire confidence and the capability for change.
“For the people who are comfortable in their privilege, or who don’t feel particularly inspired to connect their belief to action, I hope that this disturbs them just enough to agitate towards some action,” he said.
Sit will discuss how belief can “create the spaciousness, connectedness, and inspiration for meaningful and sustained social change,” while also being a “mirror or a tool for understanding our action.”
“Belief is completely anemic if it isn’t coupled with action,” Sit said. “But action can be truly destructive if it isn’t coupled with right belief.”