In the Old Testament, God commanded the prophet Jeremiah to purchase a linen belt. But this was not just some accessory that held his pants up. Christopher Wright, in The Mission of God’s People, describes it this way:
“It would have been a sizeable piece of cloth, worn around the waist and loins, over the lower garment. In sparkling fresh white linen, it would have been a very attractive piece of sartorial elegance, and probably rather out of character for Jeremiah. Walking round Jerusalem with that on would have attracted attention, and perhaps some grudging admiration.”
The idea was that God’s people were to be for him what the belt was for Jeremiah—a treasured possession that would attract people to God and ultimately bring them into a loving relationship with him. God has always desired for people to see and encounter his beauty so that the entire world might know him.
It is natural then that we would want to be made more attractive so that his love and grace would reach our neighbors, colleagues and friends. And Redeemer has been seeking to do this from the start, but now, after 22 years of growth, we’re changing our strategy from growing bigger to growing smaller. Not shrinking smaller; growing smaller. This means that, as the Downtown, East Side and West Side congregations localize and engage their geographical contexts, we hope that our neighbors will experience the beauty, grace and love of God and feel welcome in our community.
This is where Beta Groups come in. Beta Groups are seven-week Community Groups that start in the fall and are designed so that people who are new to Redeemer can get a taste of community life at our church. As people in Beta Groups begin to process the gospel in communities where they are known and cared for, they can begin to see how God empowers them to more faithfully reflect his goodness and glory in their homes, workplaces and neighborhoods. And because the gospel has a funny habit of reaping where it doesn’t sow, we’ll begin to see God’s image spreading beyond our congregations to New York City and the world.
God is going through his closet looking for people he might adorn himself with in order to bring his beauty and love to the East Side, West Side and Downtown. And not just within our congregations, but these neighborhoods where we live and serve. God is extending a gospel invitation to everyone in our city that is in need of his grace and mercy. So please participate in this great movement by praying for the Beta Campaign as we seek to kick off 75+ groups with over 700 participants. And if you are new to Redeemer or the city and are not yet involved in a Community Group, consider joining a Beta Group this fall.