By now, a goodly percentage of the people reading this already know that the Rise campaign is about exponentially accelerating the movement of the gospel in New York’s center city. It is a vision for the next 10 years, in which Redeemer grows not as one church through expansion, but rather grows even more as a family of congregations through extension and multiplication.
Beyond that, Redeemer has committed itself to collaborating with and supporting dozens of other sister churches in the city to plant hundreds of new congregations. These are ways that Redeemer since its inception has dreamed of serving the Body of Christ and the city — but in many ways we have only dreamed about it. We believe that God is now graciously opening the door to execute this vision in a new way.
The first part of the campaign was completed this Spring. To do these new things we have had to find many new financial resources. The Rise campaign, together with the gifts of friends outside of Redeemer, will enable us to begin.
However, we have repeatedly said that Rise is not simply about giving money; it is about rising up spiritually from a posture of being passive to being active, from “sitting and soaking” to “sending and serving.” Those are vivid metaphors, but what do they mean? We have regularly said that Rise is asking three things of people — pray, give, and engage. It is that last action verb that needs to be fleshed out, and that will emerge more clearly as we get feedback from you all, but I can sketch out some general ideas here.
First, it will mean a new openness to being sent into your neighborhood to start new churches, often with believers from other congregations, in order to better reach and serve your neighbors through the gospel. Redeemer is a large church with lots of options and services for members. But God does some unique things in both Christian formation and mission through each size of church — from small to medium to large — that he does not do through the other sizes. He also does unique things through churches heavily tied to one smaller neighborhood that he doesn’t do through large regional congregations. And vice versa. Every church has both lay and pastoral leaders who have different gift-mixes and abilities.
This means that the only way to give every people group and neighborhood the best possible opportunity to see the gospel embodied and hear it communicated is if there are churches of literally all shapes and sizes everywhere throughout the city. That will only happen if the main Redeemer congregations, which God has made rich with people and leadership, send small and large groups of people out every year to begin new churches. That means far more members who will be willing to leave their comfort zones and say, “Here am I, send me.” Are you willing to RISE like that?
Second, it will mean a heightened awareness of being a Christian serving in a particular part of the city. The Rise campaign included sixty neighborhood gatherings of over 2000 people. The neighborhood gatherings do not replace community groups, which are smaller. They connect a larger group believers so they can consider what life together and ministry in their neighborhood could look like. These initial meetings were mainly concerned with the first part of Rise — to explain the campaign and encourage participation. But future gatherings can begin to think together about other ways to engage one another and the urban community in which they all live in such as way that makes the love of Christ visible to all.
Third, Rise will be furnishing the Redeemer family and the entire New York City gospel movement with educational, training, instructional, and discipling pathways and resources such as we have never seen before in our history. I will be leaving my role as Senior Pastor and begin serving the family as one of the chief teachers, trainers, and disciplers. Redeemer members have certainly had some stellar offerings in this regard, the most obvious being Gotham Fellows. However, compared to our future, they have been relatively few.
In the future, opportunities for going deeper and being a more formed, trained, and equipped Christian will greatly expanded. Do you want to know how to talk to skeptical friends about your faith in a more compelling way? Do you want to know how to use the means of gospel grace to understand your own heart and make changes you’ve never been able to bring about? Do you want a portfolio of ways to connect, serve, and promote justice in your neighborhood? Do you want to know how to read the Bible for yourself and mine its riches? Do you want to know how Christianity is like and unlike other religions? Do you want to know how to commune with God through prayer, and not simply “say your prayers”? Would you be willing to consider whether God is calling you into vocational church ministry, to serve on the staff of a church?
In short — are you willing to commit the time and the effort to be trained so as to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18)?
These are just three concrete, life-changing ways that Rise can go beyond only praying and giving. Without praying and giving there can be no engaging. But engagement will mean these things and much more. Get ready to RISE.
For more info on the Rise campaign, please visit rise.redeemer.com.