In September 2014 we had an opportunity to look back to the beginnings of Redeemer now over 25 years ago. The original vision was for a church — and perhaps (we said) a network of churches — in the center of Manhattan that could reach even the most secular New Yorkers with the gospel.
We still have the original vision documents that arose out of our earliest meetings. It was a dream for a biblical church that ministered in both word and deed, that discipled people for both public and private life and which both upheld the gospel and brought it to bear on the heart.
Kathy and I remember clearly that about four out of five people who heard about this vision told us that it simply couldn’t be done. Those doubters were not simply being negative — the barriers were real. It seemed to be financially, culturally, and spiritually impossible to start historically orthodox, self-sustaining churches here. But the gospel proved itself to be more powerful than those barriers.
This year we turn from contemplating the past toward seeking God’s grace for our future. What we do in the coming months will set the course for Redeemer for the next 10 years and beyond. Without any exaggeration or hype, Kathy and I believe Redeemer’s greatest fruitfulness is ahead of us. But it will take a re-casting of a vision for a new era, a new set of leaders, as well as a renewal of our confidence in the gospel.
At the end of February we will start that new journey. On February 29, at the Hammerstein Ballroom, the Lead Pastors David, John, Abe and I are asking the entire church to gather together for what we’re calling “Redeemer Night.” That night we want to introduce you to the next stage in Redeemer’s vision. It will set a course for how we hope to serve this city and the churches of this city in a way that we’ve only dreamed of until now. God has been working in Manhattan in ways not seen by historians in over one hundred years. We believe there is an opportunity to see the Body of Christ in center city New York multiply exponentially over the next decade.
Kathy has said that this is Redeemer’s defining moment. Do we really believe that the “impossible dream” of Redeemer’s origin came true because of the power of the gospel? Or do we (secretly) think that it was due to certain methods or certain people who, if they pass off the scene, will take Redeemer’s success with them? If we renew our belief in the power of the gospel, then we won’t be daunted by the vision for the future presented that evening.
I believe that everything God has done up to now has uniquely equipped us for what we will now embark on together, and this will take all of us — and I don’t mean just “a lot of us.” This will be a significant spiritual renewal and that requires extraordinary prayer. This will be an unprecedented city-missions project, involving many other churches and ministries in the city. It will require each one of us to be more open to being trained for leadership, more open to being “sent out” in new ways into our neighborhoods. All of us must ask more intently how God might use us to bring growth and flourishing to the whole Body of Christ in center city, as well as to our neighbors.
Our goal is to bring all three congregations together on a single night. If God is gracious to us, it could be a historic meeting and we want as many people as possible to be part of it.
Beginning on Monday, February 29, and continuing through the end of April, in our Sunday services and other gatherings, we will be coming together as a church to understand and commit ourselves to this vision. It will be a time to rise up as a community and seek God’s help to answer his call to serve him in this time and place.
Please don’t miss this evening gathering. It doesn’t matter whether you are church leader of fifteen years or have only attended Redeemer for a few weeks. This will take all of us, so we need you there.
RSVP at redeemer.com/redeemernight — and personally invite as many other people as you know who attend Redeemer. Help us get the word out to everyone.