This month I will join with Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times and John Inazu of the Washington University Law School, to discuss “Civility in the Public Square.” This could be read as nothing more than an appeal for people to be nicer to one another. However, I hope it will be an introduction for many to a much more crucial and ambitious project.
We are in the midst of our Rise Campaign, and the most important part of that effort is to cast a vision for Redeemer’s ministry in the city over the next 10 years. This vision, if God blesses it, would allow us to minister to the city in ways we have always dreamed of — but in ways that up to now we have only dreamed of. It’s an enormous vision and a compelling one. But what’s our motivation?
The reason is, still, always, first and last, the gospel itself. Let’s look at the components of the Redeemer vision that we have been addressing in this Spring’s sermon series.
This month we enter a season where all of Redeemer will focus on a bold vision that will shape our church and our city for a generation or more. It’s a vision we believe God gave us from the earliest days of Redeemer’s formation, when it seemed to be a great but far-off prospect. Today we are at a wonderful crossroads — we can move toward the actual fulfillment of that calling.
Since its beginning, Redeemer has been committed to being part of a movement of new churches in the city. Fifteen years ago we developed the Church Planting Center as a department inside Redeemer. Eventually this became its own missions agency, Redeemer City to City, which has helped plant hundreds of churches in scores of the largest global cities in the world, as well as working with Redeemer to plant churches in New York City.
At Redeemer we often speak of serving, strengthening, and “renewing” New York City. When we talk like this, we must be careful not to deny “common grace.” We believe God gives all people — not just Christian believers — talent and insight to preserve and cultivate human life. But what if the Body of Christ in center city New York were, for example, to triple over the next decade or so? What difference might it make?