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Accelerating a Gospel Movement

Accelerating a Gospel Movement

Video Q&A | FAQs

Watch the video of the May 20, 2017 Congregational Meeting.

Redeemer has transitioned from one church to a family of three churches for the good of the city. Our Congregational Meeting on May 20 was a key step in accelerating the gospel movement on the rise in New York City. There are two key elments to this transition—where we are going and why.





WHY: So that all of us can be sent by the gospel to love and serve the city. WHY: So that we can work together to reinforce gospel values in our churches, while pursuing a shared vision of city renewal.
WHAT: New opportunities for:

+ Tim Keller
+ Lead Pastors
+ Elders, Deacons, Deaconesses
+ Lay Leaders
+ Everyone!

WHAT: Operating as a family of churches that shares:

+ Vision
+ Expertise
+ Ministries
+ Assets
+ Resources
+ Innovation

Video Q&A

Watch video of Tim Keller and our senior pastors as they discuss how the transition from one church to three is the best way forward.

Q1 - Why Are We Doing this When Things Seem
to Be Fine the Way They Are?

More Video Q&A

Q2 - Why Is this Change Happening So Quickly?

Q3 - What Will Tim's New Role be?

Q4 - What Does it Mean to Be Family of Churches?

Q5 - What Does this Mean for Me as a Member ?

Q6 - How Can We Pray for this Transition?


Why Is Redeemer Doing This?

1. Why are we doing this when things are going fine the way they are?

Going back as far as 1997, Redeemer has said we wanted to be a movement of churches for the good of the city, not a megachurch. The course was set then for becoming a movement of churches and God has brought us to this point so that we can love and serve more of the city. We’ve always felt a megachurch could never do what a movement of many churches could because churches in a neighborhood are much more rooted and involved with the lives of the people around them.

2. Why is this happening so fast?

While this may seem fast for some, this year is one major step in what has been a long plan (~8 years) of transitioning Redeemer into this next phase. Tim's transition out of church leadership was a key element of that plan originally laid out during the Renew Campaign in 2009.​ After several years of testing the multi-congregational collegiate model, it is time for Tim to pivot out to CTC and for the congregations to take greater ownership of their futures as part of a single Redeemer network of churches and ministries.

Tim’s New Role (watch video of Tim's announcement)

Read articles about Tim's announcement: Redeemer Report, ByFaith, Christianity Today

3. Why is Tim leaving his role as senior pastor, especially considering how effective he has been in this role?

Redeemer has never been about a single individual but rather is centered on the gospel — it is the gospel and God that will make Redeemer’s vision a reality not our founding pastor. While Tim’s preaching, pastoring and leadership gifts are obvious, he recognizes he is 66 years old and has always wanted to transition Redeemer’s leadership to the next generation at an optimal time when Redeemer’s vision has the best opportunity to flourish and grow beyond him.

Tim is not leaving. He is changing roles. He and his wife, Kathy, are devoting the rest of their lives to Redeemer’s vision for New York City and beyond. While he will no longer be senior pastor or preaching regularly on Sundays, he will still be present as Pastor Emeritus and involved with his new role with Redeemer City to City (CTC).

4. What are Tim’s new responsibilities with Redeemer City to City?

Tim will pivot into a strategic role of teaching and mentoring more leaders to do evangelism and church planting in an urban context. This shift will leverage his credibility and experience planting and leading churches in New York to multiply a church planting movement in multiple neighborhoods of the city.

5. How will Tim still be present at Redeemer?

Tim and Kathy plan to continue attending Redeemer as their home church. As Pastor Emeritus, Tim hopes to lead communion periodically and give updates in years ahead about Redeemer's vision for New York City.

6. How often will Tim be teaching or writing and will those resources be available to me?

He will not preach regularly like he has in the past, but he will continue to write books. Tim will continue to have his teachings recorded and distributed as needed.

Church Leadership

7. Without a senior pastor, what will the new senior leadership look like?

Our three current lead pastors will take over the responsibility of senior pastor for each church — Abe Cho at Redeemer East Side, David Bisgrove at Redeemer West Side, and John Lin at Redeemer Downtown through a member vote on May 20. As lead pastors, they have already been leading their congregations for several years and display the characteristics of great Christian leadership. The lead pastors and session are committed to being a family of close-knit churches that collaborate and share resources to best serve the city. They will continue to work together on major initiatives as they serve their unique neighborhoods.

8. Who will primarily be teaching at a Sunday service?

As has already been the practice for nearly six years, our lead pastors and other pastoral staff have shared the preaching duties with Tim. When Tim is no longer preaching there will be room within Redeemer for new, younger leaders to develop and preach more regularly. Tim was preaching four times a Sunday, about 40 weeks a year. That is over 160 speaking opportunities that the churches pastoral staff will now fill.

9. Will sermon text and schedules be the same for all three churches once Tim steps down?

For the coming 2017-2018 ministry year all three churches will preach from the same text and schedule. Beyond June 2018, the sermon schedule has not been determined. Just as we have done in the past with Redeemer-wide initiatives/ministry-year themes like Public Faith and Rise Where You Are, the three churches will in many cases continue to share ministry year goals and initiatives. In the fall of 2017, all three churches will be working together to launch a new lay leadership development initiative from Rise, which will have various elements and events through June 2018.

Church Structure & Legal Entity

10. Why is Redeemer staying as one legal entity/501(c)3?​

The terms of our current W83 mortgage stipulate that in the case of a major corporate re-structuring our loan could go into default. As a result, we are going to stay as one legal entity until such time we can manage the transition of the mortgage(s) to the respective particularized churches.

11.What are the implications of this?​

One is that though we will be separate churches, our finances are not entirely separate and we are putting in place a governance structure which will allow us to manage risks which may arise, such as one church falling behind its giving goals. Another is that some decisions, such as purchasing an East Side property, will require a vote of the combined membership of all three churches.

12.How long will we stay this way?​

If we are able to execute the purchase and construction of an East Side property within five years, and produce independent financial statements for each church ​during that time, we expect we will be in a position to become separate legal entities around that time.

13. How will the session/elder structure change? Will the churches have full autonomy?

There is currently one session of 25 elders who provide oversight and leadership to Redeemer’s ministries and operations. These elders are already organized by congregation so that each church will have its own individual session after the May 20 Congregational Meeting vote. Each of the three sessions, will delegate three representatives on the newly constituted Board of Trustees who will oversee the combined assets and collaborative ministry.

14. How will the Board of Trustees structure change?

Currently there is a single session and a single Board of Trustees. Many of the decisions on the budget, Rise Campaign spending, and East Side Building project are processed and approved in the single monthly session meeting. After the May 20 Congregational Meeting vote, we will have three sessions and we can no longer have one session act on behalf of the corporation. Therefore, the Board of Trustees will take on additional responsibilities such as: approving the consolidated budgets in aggregate, overseeing purchase decisions on the East Side building project, overseeing corporate assets and staff, and overseeing Rise Campaign spending. This collective corporate scope for the Board of Trustees led to a decision to increase the number of Trustees from 3 to 12. It was also determined that each church should have four representatives on the Board of Trustees, three elders and one deaconess from each church.

15. How will Redeemer’s ministries and departments that are not directly tied to a church change? (e.g. Diaconate, Redeemer Counseling Services, Central Operations, CFW)

  • The three churches will share the support staff of Central Operations, which includes finance, HR, IT and communications.
  • Redeemer’s Diaconate has a designated group of deeks serving each church, but will continue to share resources as needed.
  • Redeemer's Center for Faith & Work will continue to operate as a central ministry serving all three churches.
  • Redeemer Counseling Services will continue to function in the same capacity for all three churches.
  • Redeemer City to City and Hope for New York are already their own 501(c)(3) organizations and will continue to operate in the same manner with all three churches as they have been.

Nature of the Relationship Between Our Three Churches

16. Will all three Redeemer churches continue to share the same vision for the city?

While recognizing that all three churches will continue to shape their ministries to best fit their particular neighborhoods and contexts, we will continue to share the same fundamental vision and values, as well as the Rise vision to reach a tipping point of 15% Christians in center city New York.

17. Will Redeemer still feel like one church?

The lead pastors and sessions are committed to being a family of close-knit churches that collaborate and share resources to best serve the city. Although Redeemer will still be one legal entity or corporation, it will function as three independently governed and particularized churches.

18. Will there still be events that will bring all three churches together?

Yes, Redeemer-wide, mutually-promoted events such as the CFW annual conference, Grace and Race events, one-day seminars, etc. will continue to be offered. VBS and Birthday Party for Jesus are also examples that could still be Redeemer-wide events.

19. Will all three churches continue to use the name, logo, and brand of Redeemer?

Yes. The strong and established brand and name of Redeemer will be used by all three churches (e.g., Redeemer Downtown, Redeemer East Side, Redeemer West Side) and their future sites (e.g., Redeemer Lincoln Square).

20. How do Redeemer Lincoln Square and future sites fit into the particularization plan?

When Redeemer becomes three churches, Redeemer Lincoln Square will be a site of Redeemer West Side and will share resources and governance. In the same way that Redeemer has previously been a multi-congregational church, each of the three churches will start new sites that are part of their church. At some point in the future, if capable of being self-sustaining, a site could become a particularized church itself.

Impact on Me as a Congregant

21. Will my Redeemer membership change in any way? If I join LSQ, where am I a member?

All members are already affiliated with a specific congregation, and will be assigned to each church by their affiliation. However, that membership can be easily transferred in the future. Members who attend Redeemer LSQ will be considered Redeemer Westside members.

22. What about if I am currently involved in two Redeemer congregations, for example, Sunday service volunteering for one congregation and Community Group involvement in another - do I have to choose one only?

We understand that there are a few cases where an individual might have involvement beyond one congregation. However, over time the preference is that every person grows and serves within the community where they worship.


23. Can the West Side pay the W83 mortgage by itself?

Yes, currently the W83 mortgage is $1.73M annually, which represents 22% of the West Side budget of $8M. The total W83 debt of $23.7M is just underneath the threshold of no more than 3x the operating budget of $8M. The longer term goal is to get the W83 debt to 2x the West Side budget, or $16M over time.

24. When the East Side purchases a property, can it pay for its expected mortgage by itself?

Yes, at present, the East Side mortgage in 2021 is projected to be $1.1M annually, which represents 20% of the East Side's 2017 budget of $5.5M. The total projected East Side debt of $15M in 2021 is just underneath the threshold of no more than 3x the operating budget of $5.5M. The longer term goal is to get the East Side debt to 2x the East Side budget, or $11M over time.

25. Will the East Side and Downtown get a building too?

As stated in Rise Campaign updates, the process is already underway for finding a suitable property on the East Side. $40M of Rise funds has been allocated to the search, purchase and construction of a new East Side ministry center. The Downtown church, having only launched in 2012 and having a good relationship with the Salvation Army is not pursuing purchasing a building at this time.

26. After particularization, will there be any changes to Rise fund allocation?

No. All of the current allocations were already approved by the session in 2016 and will remain the same. Please go to rise.redeemer.com/resources for a full overview of how funds will be allocated.