A church not for ourselves
When Redeemer was started in 1989, the most common refrain was, “We don’t want to have a church for ourselves, but for people who don’t like church.” More than 20 years later, that is still the motivation behind everything we do. Although we worship using the resources of orthodox, Presbyterian tradition (rather than choosing the music or worship style that suits the leadership or the majority), we always try to keep our eyes on what would most help include the skeptical New Yorker who is trying out church for the first time.
We always try to keep our eyes on what would most help include the skeptical New Yorker who is trying out church for the first time.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a big enough idea to try to get your mind around; we don’t want to add the additional burden of insider language, tasteless music or impenetrable rituals. We try to explain what we’re about to do throughout the service and to always bring what we say and do back to Jesus. After all, unless you have come to accept that Jesus is who he says he is — God himself come to restore and reclaim his broken people — then why should you care about Christian opinions about this or that secondary issue?
Additionally, we have been rolling out an audacious plan to get smaller. Rather than becoming a megachurch, based wholly on the preaching and teaching of one pastor, we’ve broken our one large congregation into three smaller, neighborhood-based congregations on the East Side, the West Side and Downtown. Each of these congregations has its own dedicated lead pastor, officers and leaders. As venues and leaders become available, we hope to break down into even smaller local worship sites.
We have been rolling out an audacious plan to get smaller.
Tim Keller, the founder of the church, preaches at four of the eight Sunday services and directs the vision of the church. Our philosophy of ministry places the emphasis on the unique good news of the gospel, rather than on raising the profile of individual ministers or trendy programs.
Our Diaconate serves the congregation by taking a case-by-case approach to the practical needs of those who attend. Hope for New York, Redeemer’s mercy and justice arm, funnels congregational volunteers and financial aid to over 35 New York charitable organizations. The Center for Faith & Work has developed vocation-based groups for artists, educators, financial service professionals, medical personnel and many others.
All of this can be seen as the visible outworking of a commitment to the gospel.