Twenty-five years ago, Redeemer began in New York City with a bold vision that this fledgling church might somehow contribute towards the larger peace and prosperity of NYC. In a time when churches were leaving the city, Redeemer would decidedly be a church “in the city for the city,” and this commitment would be expressed through a distinctively outward–facing vision for the church.
This outward orientation was driven by the conviction that the gospel not only renews individual hearts, but also communities, as well as the larger world around us. In short, we believed that the gospel has the power to bring about a unique kind of cultural renewal in the City. For this reason, we have every confidence to engage the “world” knowing that God is not only present in every part of it, but that his grace is actively at work to address the brokenness and pain we experience daily in it. How can the church equip, connect, and mobilize her people to respond to the unseen realities of God’s renewing power in the world?
These larger questions led to the launch of the Center for Faith & Work (CFW), formed in 2003 to strengthen this outward orientation of the church. CFW would become one of five primary ministry fronts in the church, elevating the importance of integrating faith into what occupies and preoccupies most of our waking hours—work.
Those of us residing here in NYC know that while there can be a great romanticism about “the city that never sleeps,” it is our work that controls more parts of our lives than we would like to admit. Yet, it doesn’t take very long to see how broken work is and the effect that this brokenness has not only on our lives but also upon the flourishing of all the sectors in the city. Our hope as Christians is that we have a gospel big enough to address every level of brokenness, and the promises of Scripture confirm that God is indeed making all things new.
As Christians scatter throughout every borough each workday, the church touches thousands of organizations and workplaces. When Christians begin to see the relevance and power of the gospel at work in these respective places, the possibilities are truly amazing. Our motivations for work begin to change. Our relationships at work become more humanized, and we begin to see the purpose of our work in ways that connect the day-to-day experiences to concrete expressions of God’s glory in the world. When the gospel becomes central, hope for change in our city becomes revived.
If we believe that the resurrection of Christ changed everything, then we’ll look at the brokenness of our industries with hope despite the massive challenges. We’ll look at the gifts we’ve been given and the skills we’ve acquired in a way that serves others. We’ll look at the hardships we face in our work without complaint but with a persevering spirit that trusts that God has not forsaken our work.
As we look to the future, we yearn to see more of the Spirit’s work in the City. We are realizing even more the importance of an imagination that sees what is unseen to fuel change, moving our world towards the “new.” Our annual conference on
November 7-8 will highlight the critical role of the imagination in driving Spirit-led innovation. We want to cultivate a diverse and committed community whose sense of calling is driven and unified by a vision of the future promised to us in the gospel.
We are so excited to see how our work here in New York City has encouraged and catalyzed churches around the world to develop ministries that help people see the wide scope of the gospel’s power. In 2013, Redeemer City to City launched the Faith, Work & Leadership Initiative to help churches inaugurate effective faith and work ministries in global cities. It is our hope that more and more churches will be reinvigorated to equip, connect, and mobilize God’s people for more effective service and witness in the world. As Redeemer enters its next 25 years, CFW will continue to serve this City and the Christians living in it, exploring the critical intersection of faith and work to stimulate innovative change and renewal in our city.