New York City, known as the Big Apple, is seeing a big change—a religious transformation that's seeing more Christian communities and leaders rising and flourishing.
In 1989, less than 1 percent of New Yorkers attended church, according to well known church planter Tim Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, as reported by CBN News. That number has since grown to 5 percent, with a significant increase in just the past five years, Keller noted.
When a minority group reaches around 15 percent of the population, it becomes a movement, he said. Once this happens, New York City could be a majority Christian city by the year 2026, according to Keller.
He said the biggest contributors to the growth of the church in the city are the millennials, who comprise the fastest-growing segment of the city's church-going population. More and more people are flocking to churches like C3 Brooklyn, which rents out the Williamsburg Music Hall every Sunday morning just to accommodate new congregants, he noted.
The transformation is remarkable considering that New York City is not known as a particularly religious place, according to Religion News Service (RNS).
Although Gallup reported an above average population of Catholics and Jews, the state of New York is well below average for Protestants and other non-Catholic Christians.
But nowadays New York City is more spiritually active than in the late 1990s or even 2001 following the September 11 terrorist attack. Church attendance is increasing, the number of "unchurched" residents is decreasing, and the number of "born again" Christians is on the rise, surging from 20 percent in the late 1990s to 32 percent in 2013, according RNS, based on Barna poll data.
During the opening of the Movement Day Global Cities conference in New City on Oct. 25, the Rev. McKenzie "Mac" Pier, founder and president of The New York Leadership Center, said, "God has been disrupting New York City," The Christian Post reported.
"For the past 25 years in Manhattan, we have seen evangelical Christianity grow by 500 percent," he said.
Pier noted that in New York City 90 percent of the people who attend church are either minority or immigrant. "I describe New York City not as an American city but as a very small continent made up of many countries," he added.
New York City was home to nearly 8.5 million people in 2014, accounting for over 40 percent of the population of New York State, according to the latest official census. It is the largest city in the United States with a population comprised mostly of immigrants from various countries.