The first season of the Rise Campaign is over, and I’m writing to thank all of you who prayed, gave, and committed to the vision.
Rise is first of all a vision. Its aim is the acceleration of the movement of the gospel in New York City in order to triple the size, and we hope, the quality of our part of the Body of Christ in center city Manhattan. Additionally, we aim to serve the entire city at a whole new level.
Second, Rise is a call for all participants to “rise” to the challenge of living out their faith in the city in a new way. We want the people of Redeemer to be less consumers of ministry and more producers of ministry; to perceive ourselves as not just residents, but as being “sent” into the city.
One way to do that is to be willing to be sent out as the core group of a new congregation in your part of the city.
Another way is to take the time and effort for training in order to publicly, winsomely share your faith with your friends, neighbors, and colleagues.
A third way is to join with other believers in your neighborhood to consider how you can engage that neighborhood for the common good. Particularly, how you can increase your proximity to people in need.
Third, Rise was a campaign to raise funds to reach the vision. Our goal was to have 2,500 people make pledges or gifts and we exceeded that, receiving 2,820 to date. The upsurge of support and enthusiasm was just remarkable, and a gift of grace. God worked in us and, if I may be frank, he showed me that my own expectations had all along been far too modest. We had projected that this would raise $40 million over three years, and as of this date the pledges and gifts received amount to $32.3 million. While this is short of what we had hoped for, to me it is the breadth of participation and sacrificial commitment, not the dollar amount, that matters. As has been the case in past campaigns, over the next few months more pledges will come in and the numbers will grow. We continue to seek gifts and pledges from outside of Redeemer, and our goal is still to raise about $80 million over all for this first phase of the vision. Please pray for that.
Rise is more about the vision and the task than about the money. We have begun a multi-year journey together to reach the city, so expect regular updates and some annual gatherings for reports and celebrations.
I cannot express my gratitude individually as I’d like, so please take this article as my way of saying thank you. Truly, I have been so encouraged and moved by the sacrifice of so many that “thank you” just doesn’t cover it, but thank you anyway!
Let me end on a pastoral note. While we have enlisted a lot of prayer for the campaign itself, we need even more. We seek to build up the urban Christian community, but the bigger the building, the more firm must be the foundation. That foundation is strengthened by an individual’s walk with God and a deep personal prayer life that conforms each one more and more into Christ’s image. Our culture leads us to desire inspiration but not costly discipleship or holiness. But that is what we need. Redeemer and the churches of the city can’t go and reach out unless they are rooted deep in Jesus and his word (Psalm 1:1-6). You may know an old hymn that calls believers to “Rise Up” and — “Have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of Kings.”