I am amazed at how God continues to bring Redeemer and its ministries into closer relationship with New York City and also continues to renew the city more and more the longer we are here. It is especially exciting when you realize we are part of this extraordinary gospel movement that causes us to extend ourselves into neighborhoods all across the city and deepen our engagement with the people around us.
If you are anything like me you probably have lots of questions and maybe even some doubt about whether the next part of Redeemer’s story includes you. Let’s face it, for many of us a future in NYC is uncertain at best. I remember the first 5 years I attended Redeemer (in the early 90s), I would tell friends every year “this is my last year in the city before I leave to go settle down somewhere else.” I can remember thinking: “God can’t be asking me to stay here.” I used this as an excuse to not get involved with the church beyond Sunday attendance. Eventually however, I realized I should pay attention to where God was leading me and found his plans for my life were very different than mine. After attending for 5 years, I finally became a member of Redeemer in 1996. My wife Mindi and I met a year later. Since then God has allowed us (and now 2 children) to be part of the vision he has for Redeemer in NYC. And while we are constantly challenged raising a family in the city, we feel incredibly blessed to be able to serve our church and call Redeemer’s community our own.
When we look back at how God has brought the gospel to bear on our lives and the lives of our friends and neighbors, we can only look ahead with excitement and anticipation. What is God going to do through us as a church in the coming months and years? While there is presently a great deal of uncertainty about the economy and how it will affect NYC, one thing is certain: God has called our church to be actively engaged in the restoration of the broken and underprivileged, and to be expressively hopeful in bringing the gospel message to our city. If you’ve been around Redeemer for any length of time you’ve probably heard this verse, but it is worth repeating. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. – Jeremiah 29:7 (NIV)
What is your part in this unfolding story of a gospel movement in NYC? Maybe it’s putting your roots down here when it would be easier to go elsewhere. Maybe it’s becoming a member of Redeemer or volunteering to serve with one of the church’s many ministries. Maybe it’s committing your life to gospel principles and gospel community on a deeper level. Whatever plan God has for you, there is no better time or place to explore how you can take hold of that opportunity and see it expressed in life changing ways than this fall’s RENEW Campaign. This will be an exciting season of renewing our covenant with God as a church and renewing our collective hope for a city changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yes, it’s a challenge to stay in the city and it’s sometimes hard to hear God’s call to take the more difficult road. But if you think the Holy Spirit may be leading you to a deeper commitment to minister and serve here in NYC, he probably is.