I’m still thinking about the 25th anniversary of Redeemer’s founding that we just celebrated a couple weeks ago. I want to share something I came across when sifting through old documents. It was in Redeemer’s first Vision Campaign back in 1997, almost 10 years after Redeemer had started, that we realized the growth in our ministry was leading us down a road we wanted to avoid at all costs. Here’s an excerpt from the 1997 Vision Campaign brochure:
Our Current path would make us just another “mega-church.” This means:
• We would become detached from any particular community. A church should reach new people and change lives through personal friendships and community service. With the mega-church model, most people would travel long distances to Redeemer services on the basis of our fame.
• We would become an increasingly passive body of people. People would attend Redeemer just to have their needs met instead of coming to be equipped as servant-leaders who are agents of healing, reconciliation and renewal in the city.
• We would be basing the church on the Senior Pastor. In the mega-church model, when the founding pastor retires another dynamic leader must be found for continuity. But the unity of the mega-church relies on disparate elements in the church granting the founder an influence that no one else is ever granted again. So eventually a mega-church diminishes, never becoming a lasting influence for good in the city.
We knew in 1997 that a mega-church was not what God intended for Redeemer to be, but rather a community of churches serving all across the city.
It’s been a long and humbling road since then to 2012 when we congregationalized into three congregations dedicated to serving three distinct neighborhoods. This road propelled us to be more dependent on God for his direction and his provision. It also painfully revealed a level of consumerism that had grown up in all of us. And now, with our three congregations thriving with a dedicated and empowered pastoral staff team and an active community of servant lay leaders, we are at a transition point of prayerfully asking God for his guidance for the future of Redeemer.
We know we want to continue being a generative church. The harvest is plentiful (Matthew 9:37). It truly is. By generating new congregations, daughter churches and sites the gospel movement is furthered through a community of churches prayerfully sending resources and giving of themselves to support each other. But what does that look like in detail, five years from now? 10 years from now? Kathy and I have been reflecting on what this means for us as well. What is the most significant way she and I can be generative for the gospel movement in NY? What is the best way to develop the needed leadership for this community of churches?
These are all hard but good questions for us as a church and for Kathy and I to wrestle with in prayer. As we are praying about these things, please pray with us. We aren’t going anywhere (until God calls us home), so strategically finding ways to support and train the next generation of leaders at Redeemer seems the best investment of our time. But both we, the leaders, and all of Redeemer’s congregations need the concentrated, focused prayers of all of you. Please join us.