Celebrating a year of equipping for spiritual growth

In September 2017, our family of Redeemer churches introduced Formation, a new initiative to help deepen our spiritual discipleship as people called to Christ, strengthened in community, and sent into the city. Formation aimed to equip congregants with practices and pathways to live out their callings as disciples of Christ.

From research done by the Barna Group with Redeemer congregants in 2016 and 2017, we identified gaps between congregants’ knowledge of practices and actual day-to-day practices. We sought to equip and support people in practices that form a stronger gospel identity including things like sabbath rest, devotion (scripture reading and prayer) and accountability.

Here are some examples of how congregants are being equipped through the Formation initiative:

  • New online learning paths on topics like Bible reading and rest were created to encourage congregants’ spiritual growth. By working through pathways composed of curated sermons, articles, Bible studies and other resources, individuals are more deeply rooted in a gospel identity and better equipped to live out their callings.
  • New classes were offered at all three churches to equip people to live out their callings in their neighborhoods and relationships: Power, Privilege and Difference (neighborhood calling), and Relationships: a Mess Worth Making (relationships calling). One student from the Relationships class learned that “My calling is to be an ambassador of Christ, to reflect his love so that those may not know Him will be encouraged to know Him and for those who are Christians to want to know Him even more.”

Downtown also began piloting MarriageWorks for married couples. One participant said the most helpful aspect of the class was learning that “Marriage as a mission is the only thing that separates Christian marriages from others, and that makes marriage sustainable.”

  • Mentoring and accountability groups launched to help people wrestle with life issues in a more intimate environment. For example, the West Side began a mentoring initiative in January to foster relationships of accountability across ages and stages.
  • A new e-devotional, including a version for families, was introduced to help build a daily practice of prayer and Scripture reading. The devotional includes Old and New Testament passages and guided prayers. About 2,600 people currently receive this twice-daily devotional through email. One subscriber said of the devotional, “I think it gives great direction, allows you to read a little or a lot of scripture and I like the fact that I know others in the Redeemer community are reading and praying through the same content, which gives a sense of togetherness.”
  • Three marquee events were designed to bring together all Redeemer churches and ministries to focus on formation, practices, and callings, with teaching from Tim Keller and other guest speakers. At the Gospel Identity Conference in November, we learned how a Christian identity could be understood, embodied, and galvanized to serve those around us. One attendee said the most valuable part of the conference was “Being reminded once again that I am set free by the gospel not just from sin and death but from the unfruitful and needless striving to achieve self worth, value and salvation by my own works.”

In the February Public Faith Conference, we explored how to share our faith with those God has placed in our lives with thoughtfulness, gentleness and respect. We concluded the series in April, with the Faith & Work Conference. Plenary sessions and over 20 “glimpses of glory” throughout NYC were centered around work, culture and Sabbath. Over 2,000 people attended these conferences or joined via Livestream.

Please join us in celebrating all God has done and pray as we develop the 2018-2019 ministry year to grow deeper in practices, community and callings. We would love to hear about your questions and experiences at [email protected].

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Articles in this Issue

Mis-using the Bible
Tim Keller
My belief in the prosperity gospel
Jessica Hong
Cape Town: A water crisis
Louis Scheepers
The grace of God in volunteering as a family
Margaret Kramer
A gentle interruption for everyday work
Michelle Choi