The Center for Faith & Work (CFW) is a church-based ministry. It grew out of Redeemer’s vision to see the gospel change everything—our hearts, how we relate to other people, and how the world works. Given the importance of career and achievement in the lives of most of us at Redeemer, our lives wouldn’t be gospel-changed without a focus on why we work, how we work, and what we do. At the tenth anniversary of launching this ministry and as I turn the leadership of CFW over to the new Executive Director, David Kim, I’d like to share some of the core values that I believe helped shape the leaders, programs and impact of CFW in our church and beyond.
At the core of Redeemer is the promise that the gospel changes everything. In CFW change is the goal—changed people who can then bring change in the form of hope, truth, justice, love, and renewal into their jobs. In the beginning we avoided programs that would draw large crowds of Christians, like speaker events with famous people, but wouldn’t really change anyone or anything. Similarly, we don’t want to create the checklist or playbook for Christians in the work place, which might help a person conform to a certain ideal behavior on the outside but not change their heart. We don’t answer questions like, “Should I take this part in a play?” or “Should I advertise this product?” but instead point people to a deeper understanding of the God they believe in and what Christ did on the cross for them.
Redeemer is committed to a definition of church as the people who both gather on Sunday and are scattered the other six days of the week in neighborhoods and institutions throughout the city. The work of the church is both what we do as a community and what we do as individuals in the world. We are a “priesthood of all believers” and God’s spirit is poured out on us to serve him and point others to him wherever he has called us to work. The structure and mission of Redeemer has reflected this focus on supporting the people of the church as we bring our experience of the gospel with us out into the world. The gospel is meant to transform and renew our culture, and we can be part of that renewal as we work in the companies, institutions, and professions that comprise the society in which we live.
From the beginning, CFW sought to be lay-leader-driven. Application of the gospel to the various motivations, conditions, and experiences of vocation requires people from all professions who understand the idols and worldviews of those fields, have repented of their own false gods and self-righteousness, and can begin ripple effects of gospel renewal with others. After 10 years, we’ve worked with more than 250 leaders who have in turn led programs for more than 2000 people.
The final core value I want to recognize is our emphasis on theology—specifically, what we can learn from Genesis through Revelation about who God created us to be and what he made us to do, why it’s so hard and the world is so broken, and what difference the gospel makes in our work lives. We sought to challenge the highly educated Redeemer congregation to study theology in a way that deeply connects to their real lives in work and home. Five years ago we began the Gotham Fellowship, which offers a 9-month intensive in theological study and application, and this theological foundation undergirds all of CFW’s programs.
I look forward to seeing how God works in Redeemer, CFW and all of our work lives in the next 10 years.
Katherine will continue to work with CFW as a strategic advisor and help with leadership development at Redeemer and other organizations.