Here, at the beginning of 2016, it is New Year’s resolution time. Which will shortly be followed by “breaking your New Year’s resolution time.” Making a New Year’s resolution is like making a promise to live the kind of life you aspire to. It’s often about starting something new. A new diet. A new gym routine. Getting a new job.
But it’s really hard to start something new. It is so much easier to do what you are already doing. Habit is a powerful thing. So I always admire people who keep their resolutions and I admire people who actually do new things. I’ve met many people like that at Redeemer. People who not only have started new things, but have started new things for the good of our church and our city.
My friend Jerry is an entrepreneur. He looked around Redeemer and realized that there wasn’t a group of men who could get together and talk about what it means to follow Jesus as a man. So he started a weekly men’s group that meets every Tuesday morning at the W83 Ministry Center. I now know at least a dozen guys who say that is a critical part of their friendship and faith life. It wouldn’t have existed without Jerry.
They say raising kids in the city is hard. Now that I have three of them I’d have to agree. That’s why so many people move out of the city when they start having kids. Well, some moms I know said they wanted to start something to help kids grow up well in the city. Alice, Sandi, Jenni (and now many others) created a Kids Community Group as a sort of after-school youth group for elementary age kids on the Upper West Side. What began as nothing but a good idea has grown to serve more than 100 kids every single week, teaching them about the gospel, how to pray, and helping them develop friendships with each other.
My friend Craig looked around and felt we could do more to reach out to our friends and neighbors to help them understand the gospel. So, though he hasn’t been to seminary, he began working with David Bisgrove and some others to start “The West Side Café,” a Tuesday evening gathering for people to talk about whether it makes sense to believe in God or follow Jesus.
Our friends Summer and John are so generous. We have been their guests at several charity events for the Bowery Mission. Although they have three children and another on the way, they somehow manage to host people regularly at their home — either for dinners or for multi-week stays — and they manage to engage deeply with one of the most important social justice organizations in our city.
Several years ago, my friend Bethany felt that she knew a lot of people who wanted to read the Bible but were having trouble finding a resource to guide them daily. She started a daily devotional, written specifically to New Yorkers, to help busy professionals engage with the word of God in a new, powerful way. She sent the devotions out by email, and the list grew to have several thousand subscribers.
Another friend, Brian, is a playwright. This past year, I got to attend one of his shows and I was blown away. He deftly wove in themes of redemption and gospel in ways that were moving but far from ham-fisted. It was a show you could watch as a person with no faith and be inspired to think about what your family, your heart, and your life is all about. Brian started with just a blank computer screen, and created a play that seasons a part of New York’s theater culture with a gospel-formed view of life.
As Redeemer enters a pivotal time in it's history, we are excited to share with you more about the path ahead. We hope you'll be able to join us for a special evening on February 29 where we hope to move from a mega-church mindset to a movement mindset. Our vision is to share and demonstrate the love of Christ all over New York City. To succeed we’ll need hundreds of people to rise and become leaders, people who look around and see opportunities to serve, who start things for the good of the city and our church. This spring our church will launch a campaign to raise money and leaders for our vision. It will be a chance for each of us to to live out resolutions to open our eyes to the needs around us, to serve our neighbors, to work for the good of the city, to live out gospel-changed lives in the city.