Advent is a season where Christians celebrate the fact that “the word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14/MSG). One of the practical implications of this wonderful fact is, in the words of J. I. Packer, to reproduce in Christians “the temper of him who for our sakes became poor. ... (to) live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor — to do good to others.” This past Easter the West Side Congregation launched a new site called Redeemer Lincoln Square (LSQ), based on the principle of the incarnation, by sending over 330 congregants to serve a new neighborhood.
This was done for two reasons. First, to make room for people who weren’t currently attending church. For several years prior to the launch we were effectively out of room on Sundays at W83. The launch of LSQ opened up hundreds of seats, both at W83 and Lincoln Square, so that more people could attend and be exposed to the gospel. Our Agora programming and the recent Open Forum, along with weekly “Question and Response” at LSQ and Redeemer West Side are examples of the ways we are creating new opportunities for those exploring Christianity. Second, by “impoverishing ourselves” of leaders and volunteers there are now more opportunities at both locations for individuals to replicate the incarnation in their lives by serving the church, rather than being served (Mark 10:45).
What has been the result of this incarnational strategy? There are now close to 600 people worshipping at LSQ each week and over 40% of the individuals now affiliated with LSQ are new to our database. That means nearly 240 people who were not previously connected to Redeemer now call Redeemer their church home.. This is why we want to continue planting more and more sites in the next ten years In addition, we sent 13 Community Groups (CG) to LSQ from WS and now, after seven months, they have over 30 groups. At W83 over 33 new leaders are now serving in our CG ministry and we recently had close to 60 new volunteers sign up to serve in everything from Hope for New York to Children’s Ministry.
So as we head into a season that celebrates God’s great love for us through the sending of his Son, I am grateful for the sacrifice of so many who made this new expression of Jesus a reality, and for the opportunity for us together to be one expression of God’s tangible love for New York City.