Nine years, this corner. My life is here. 18 hour days, and I selling things with a moneyback guarantees. Everyone knows me – I know everyone.
Do you have any memorable stories that have happened here on this corner?
Two construction guys fighting – one shot the gun, injuring the other person. He falls down here. 15 people [show up for] just one guy. He falls down here. People hearing the gun – everyone is gone. Just I am standing there. I am witness. I tell these guys, "Please, he'll die, don't do it. Please." The kill guys say, "Shut up – kill you too." Very fast – they take cars and left…. I called the police. They come in two minutes. New York police department is great. The next day, I stayed at the police department for six hours, and when I came back, two policemen were watching my cart – nobody stealing. When I came back, people hugged me and were crying. Turns out, one doorman told people that I had killed somebody; other doorman said I had died. Everybody said, "I know you're a good person – you didn't kill anyone." Another person hugs me and said, "I thought you were dead." There was a big line. Sold a lot of fruit.
Would you say that New Yorkers are hopeful people?
Yes – I love New York. I was a journalist for twenty years in Turkey. I love all the people here, and I hope everyone can be happy here. There's a Turkish saying - if you want to be happy for one hour, go to sleep. If you want to be happy for one day, go to the ocean and catch a fish. You need one month of happiness, go on a honeymoon. You need one year of happiness - you win a lot of money. But for a lifetime of happiness – you find it in a job you love.
Is this your favorite neighborhood in New York?
Yes. This corner is the best corner of New York, I think. People are very kind and friendly – they never bother me. I like this corner.
I absolutely would – doesn't get much New Yorker than me. I grew up in the suburbs of New York, stayed in New York for college and for law school moved into the city afterwards. So I've lived here my whole life.
What's your favorite neighborhood then?
Where I live, on the Upper West Side. There's a lot of diversity…there's a lot going on. There's a lot of new construction. You have the Park, Columbus Avenue, Time Warner Center. You never know when you're going to run into celebrities. It's just a fun place to live.
Describe New York in three words.
A Beautiful Melting Pot.
What do you think New York values the most?
I think it's freedom of expression. I believe that. I think that there's so many different people here, and so many cultures and points of views. The freedom to do and be anything you want.
Do you still practice law? What kind?
Yes – real estate law.
In terms of the people you meet in the job who are moving to the city or live here, what's the draw that pulls them?
Well, first of all, there's no place sexier on the planet than New York…. People just love New York, and the vibrancy and the heartbeat – it's palpable. The people, the opportunity. And it's true – if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Because it's so tough, on so many levels – the people are willing to do what they need to do to make it here – live the way they have to live, put in their dues. I think it's the promise of New York – everything you could potentially do here and potentially be here that draws people.
Would your friends call you a hopeful person?
(Laughs) – My friends think I'm an eternal optimist! I am. I'm always telling people, "Don't worry, it'll all be okay.” And I believe that. There's no other option.
I think it comes from all of my life experiences, all of my...failed relationships. I just think that we're the sum of our experiences. There's nothing to be gained by being negative. And my hopes for myself on a personal level, is that I meet someone, that I can share my wonderful life with, and my experiences with, and maybe build a home and family with, and I think this is a common theme that you're going to find around a lot of New Yorkers because I think there are a lot of single people here.
My hope right now for the city is that people can just relax, and stop worrying so much about the economics of it all, and just really start to be able to re-enjoy the city and everything it has to offer. There is a level of stress in the city right now, and my hope is that that would go away.
I am actually just walking aimlessly…[laughs] I'm taking a break from work - it's a crazy day…so I'll probably circle around and go back in, at some point.So what is your job?
I'm in marketing at a video conferencing firm. It's marketing and sales, and it's end of quarter so…How would you describe a New Yorker?
Someone who wouldn't stop for you…[laughs]
New Yorkers are kind of just driven, they're kind of like tunnel vision - they have a place to go and they're walking very purposely. Virginia is kind of considered the country, so people call me country and they call me nice.Was getting into marketing a dream of yours, to do after college?
It's kind of a stepping stone – I'm trying to get into event planning, and the company has place in events but it's tied to marketing, so it's kind of a stepping stone for me to get there.Did you imagine you would live in New York?
Never imagined it, actually – I knew I was going to move here about three weeks before I came.How is living here different from any pre-conceived notions of what it would be like?
It was what I expected – I thought it was going to be fast-paced, a lot of traffic and cabs. I wasn't too surprised.Do you think you've changed as a person?
I would say I've learned to not be as nice – because sometimes when people want to give you something or hand you something – if you kind of look or stop or pay attention, they'll start to sell you something or they're want something from you. I think I've just developed a tougher skin.Would you call yourself a hopeful person?
Definitely.Where does that optimism come from?
I think it comes from the way I was brought up…my family – spirituality, always hoping for the best. If something not going the right way in your life – you have hope, that makes you happier and genuinely better.If you had the power to change New York in a hopeful way, what would that be?
I would probably try to do something about the amount of homeless people on the streets. Maybe something with their shelters. It's really hard, because you can't give to everybody. You try to give, but you can't give too much.Can you see yourself living here long term?
Yeah, I can't see myself raising kids here, though.Why?
Just because I grew up running around barefoot outside, eating berries in the backyard, and I'd want my kids to have that type of experience, versus living in a cement city.Have you found good community here in the city?
I would say so. Yeah, I actually came here with a lot of friends, that already lived here, and it was nice to have that base here. As far as a community outside of friendship, outside of work – not really. So I guess it's difficult to find your niche, in such a huge, busy place.What would you hope for yourself in the future?
I just want to be happy, and healthy in my future – content in my life. I don't really think about where I'm at in my career – I just want to be healthy and happy, and have a family.
How long have you been doing this type of work?
About three years.
Where did you grow up?
All over. I'm Italian [Sicilian].
What's your favorite part of New York City?
I love the city – anywhere you go, it's the best…but [in] some parts of the city you need to be careful (chuckle).
Do you have an Italian community here that you hang out with?
Yes – in Brooklyn, yes.
Is it important to you?
Yes of course – because it's my people, right? We go to restaurants, go to dancing, and stay together – it's fun.
It's a different mentality – Italian people and American people.
Are you a hopeful person?
Yes. I hope I can go back to my country, when I retire.
How do you think New York changed at 9/11?
The world changed, not just New York.
New York changed because before people used to smile more. Now when they smile, they got to be more careful a little bit – they're afraid.
I hope nothing happens.
What do you think New York values the most?
New York – it's all business – it's money.
Do you agree with them?
No. For me, what's important is family. Family has got to stay together. For me. But New York, it would be all business.
If you could change one thing in New York…
Change is change – but New York is New York. It's the big apple…and everyone wants to eat the big apple (chuckles).
But if you really could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
The people [I'd want] to change … The people who live in New York are very, very cold. I'm Sicilian, so it's different.
How come your nametag doesn't say Charlie?
It's Calogero, in Sicilian. In America they changed the name to Charlie. But my name is Calogero.
How have you seen the city change in the last twenty years?
It's a lot cleaner, and safer. Years ago, it wasn't a very safe place, clean place – it's cleaned up dramatically.
What do you think are some of the factors that contributed to this improvement?
I think years ago there were different efforts by the mayor, Giuliani, to clean up New York, and I think Bloomberg has continued that, and it seems to work well. At least here in Manhattan – I don't know if they chased everybody from Manhattan into the other boroughs [laughs].
How would you describe yourself?
That's impossible to say. My life has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. I have a son who has autism…so unfortunately my whole life revolves around the whole autism epidemic and issues relating to that, and trying to deal with my son. So almost everything else is secondary.
Even how I would describe myself - it's almost like myself isn't a part of me anymore; it's revolving around my son.
What are some of your most important values in your life now?
I guess it would have to be family…of course, family. Yeah, family family family. People usually mention religion, but sometimes I feel like you get abandoned by your religion…especially when the priest doesn't like your autistic son in the church.
Would you still consider yourself to be a hopeful person?
Yeah, I think so…sure.
What do you find hope in, in your life?
I have hope for my two boys – my typical son, I wish the world for him. I hope in the best of everything. My other son, I'm hoping that ideally we could cure him from autism one day – and if not, that he could learn to function on his own.
How do you see New York changing in the future?
New York is always evolving, and I think there's a lot of hope for the city – I think the city is doing really well, so I just hope it continues to evolve, continues to have this influx of different types of people. It's such a cosmopolitan place, and I think that adds to it. I think one of the unique things about New York is that it's always changing.
How has that job been so far?
A little stressful – just trying to stay employed, so that's the name of the game
What are you doing in Times Square?
Actually, I'm about to go meet my buddy for a cigarette. I'm trying to quit, but he's the one with the cigarettes, so…
What do you love about New York City?
I like how the city is so densely packed with things to do. It's a really small city, in terms of area [size], but there's a lot in it. I like the different neighborhoods.
Do you live in the city as well?
I actually live in Brooklyn, in Williamsburg
So you're a bridge and tunnel person?
I am - I rock with the hipsters.
How would you describe typical New Yorkers?
Actually, I know a lot of people who come up to New York and describe the changes they go through personally – I think they feel a little more jaded once they come to the city. I guess it's the stress of the city life, in general.
Has that happened to you?
I hope not. Just trying to hang in there.
What gives you hope or meaning in life?
That's deep, man. [laughs] I guess, it's working towards a goal. Eventually I want to go back to school, so everything I'm doing right now, is working after that. That's what drives me. Other things keep me centered – I do jujitsu, I've been doing that for a while.
I like to describe myself as a hopeful person.
Where does that hope come from? How do you keep going?
I had really strong parents, and they're my role models. They went through a lot of struggles, and it gives me hope that I can do the same.
We believe that the best way to reach the city and renew it is through churches – congregations of people who are living all of life in light of the gospel. Through congregations of people with gospel-transformed hearts, whole communities, neighborhoods, and spheres of public life can be renewed. While our current structure is effective in many ways, we are not serving and engaging the neighborhoods in which we worship very well. Our hope in re-organizing into three more entrepreneurial, mission-minded, lay-led congregations is that we can better engage and attract non-believers, expand by spinning off new worship sites in nearby neighborhoods, and serve those who need to experience the love and hope of the gospel. Moving into an entirely new neighborhood south of Central Park with a subset of our congregation (500-1500 people) we're effectively planting a new church, but because it's a "sister" congregation it equally shares in Redeemer's resources and Tim's senior-level preaching and leadership. No one of the three congregations is privileged over another, and our people can choose their church home based on where they live or work.
Self-propagating. Reproducing. In other words, we hope that as Christians we're all inviting those who don't share our faith into an experience of the gospel. And we hope that as a church we are birthing new churches. During the next 10 years, we have the opportunity, as a congregation, to multiply ourselves into 3 sustainable congregations, each with a goal of reproducing itself in new locations and becoming a multi-site congregation. We're using the term "generative" to inspire a decade of growth that involves us dividing up our large 5000 person congregation into 3 distinct congregations that can grow more organically and then begin new worship services of their own. We can foresee that in 10 years we could have 3 healthy congregations worshipping in 2-3 locations each, with 4-5 services each. This way we have many more congregations and services that can reach out to different parts of the city with the renewing power of the gospel.
Over the next two-three years we will transition from one centralized congregation to three neighborhood based congregations. In advance of occupying our new building on West 83rd St., which will provide increased availability of worship space, we are planning to launch an additional morning service on the West Side -- for a total of four services in the new building. The south congregation hopes to have secured Sunday worship space before the end of 2012 and can host its mid-week programs in the leased Redeemer office space at 1359 Broadway. Around the same time the W83 space opens, we also plan to open leased ministry space on the Upper East Side for the east side congregation. This will enable each of the three congregations to come together in vision, neighborhood mission, evangelism and leadership.
In 2012 and beyond, the three Redeemers will add worship services as they grow - particularly through the engagement of new believers. As in 1989, our vision is to draw New Yorkers who are un-churched and often hostile to our faith to the hope and grace of the gospel. We don't want to grow by taking people who are already committed Christians from any other church in NYC. But we believe we will grow, and as we grow we can expand to additional worship sites.
Although Redeemer would like to see the majority of its congregants attend worship services and fellowship groups close to the neighborhood where they live or work, we understand that there are many other factors for people to consider. Many of our congregants live outside Manhattan and will make their decision based on subway lines or ministries in which they currently serve. The important thing is that each congregant make a commitment to help one of the three congregations get established and embody the city-serving values of the current unified Redeemer.
Although the economic challenges today are greater than any time in our church's history, we believe that God is calling us to move forward for three main reasons:
1. The completion of the W83rd Street ministry center is vital to all our ministries that are competing for one 1,400 square foot conference room at 1359 Broadway that holds a maximum of 75 people. Our leased worship spaces are overcrowded, restrict our usage to certain hours, and are only short-term commitments. And we're not effectively engaging with our neighbors downtown, or on the upper east and upper west sides.
2. We don't want to be a mega church that loses all entrepreneurial spirit, congregational ownership, and gospel-centered passion. Multiplying into three congregations is a way to push back the forces of bureaucracy and over-institutionalizing and instead push toward innovation and organic growth. We love our competent and committed staff, but they can't be church for us – the congregation is the church. We believe this change is needed now to unleash the potential and passions of our congregational leaders and workers.
3. Furthermore, we are attempting to carefully steward the next 10 years of Tim's ministry, enabling him to train and mentor future pastoral leadership at the same time that we encourage him to continue preaching sermons that are life changing. Tim and the preaching team will unite all our congregations through the same gospel-centered preaching each week, even as we are free to innovate by congregation to engage and serve our neighbors.
By moving forward now we avoid becoming a church just for ourselves and continue to bring the gospel to people who need it in relevant and life changing ways.
Tim will serve as the senior pastor over all three Redeemer congregations, leading us through gospel-centered preaching and a vision to love and serve NYC. His first love is preaching at Redeemer and he will continue to preach as many Sundays a year and at as many services per Sunday as he does now (~40 Sundays a year at 3 services each Sunday), rotating equally amongst the three congregations' services. Obviously, as the total number of services increase the congregations will be sharing him more. He will also repurpose a significant amount of time he currently spends with congregants and staff to coach and mentor the next generation of pastors needed to fulfill the goal of 7-9 neighborhood-based worship sites in 10 years.
In many ways Tim's role will not change significantly. He will continue to preach and teach at Redeemer and provide leadership for our major ministry fronts for the next decade. However, he does plan to continue writing, with the goal of 1 book a year, and support our church planting center as it equips church planters from around the globe.
In the 2005 Vision Campaign we raised money for the down payment on Redeemer's first property – a worship and community center. That $8.5M enabled us to search for, find and make a down payment on a property (parking garage) on the Upper West Side (West 83rd Street). We had hoped to raise $12M in additional funds through supporters outside of Redeemer and NYC to keep our mortgage at a manageable level. This proved far more difficult than we'd imagined, especially given the economy, as we raised just $3M of our $12M goal. Based on this, our session made a decision to dedicate an additional $2M in operating reserves to the project, totaling $13.5M in cash to be used for the building project to date. We are returning to our own congregation to complete the garage renovation and properly manage the debt service going forward. Our goal is to raise $10M additional for the building which will bring our debt service below 20% of our operating budget. Should we achieve our goal of $10M in additional funding for the building, we will have raised a total of $23.5M in cash for the building, leaving $29M in debt (total budget is $52.5M), resulting in an annual mortgage of $2.17M. This leaves our debt service at 18.7% of our 2011 Operating Budget.
Although the costs for all 3 ministry spaces and central offices will overlap over the next 10 years, the session, trustees and Sr. staff believe that the future budget is manageable. They have projected modest congregational growth, and modest growth for giving as well as plans for 2 more campaigns by 2019. Although no one can say for certain how the future will unfold, the leadership of Redeemer believes God has called us to work toward fulfilling this vision and we are committing the finances to proper planning and gospel based stewardship as we move closer to the cost of all these facilities.
Yes, we hope to find and secure a lease for east side space that can be used for 7-day-a-week ministry by 2012. We plan to continue leasing Sunday worship space from Hunter College for the foreseeable future, in order to accommodate our 2000 worshippers per service. However, we are committed to providing Monday through Saturday meeting space for the east and south congregations so that they can establish ministries and community programming similar to what will be developed on the west side in the W83 ministry center. For a time, the south or "downtown" congregation can make use of Redeemer's office space at 1359 Broadway. We will look for east side space over the next few years, based on the funding from the RENEW Campaign.
Each congregation will have a lead pastor and one or more assistant pastors. They'll work together as a team to lead the congregation to engage the city, grow a particular congregation and generate new worship sites. The process to select the pastoral leadership teams for each congregation is already underway. It is a thorough, objective recruitment and assessment that is adapted from our own experience in planting churches and our leadership experience at Redeemer. Tim Keller and the Session, along with a team of assessors from the church, plan to conclude this process by the end of 2010.
None of the details of how Redeemer will most effectively multiply itself to become three distinct congregations have yet been developed. Since the campaign has ended we have created teams of people from Redeemer's Session, staff, and core leadership to think through this for all of our ministry fronts and come up with an approach that engages as many people in the congregation as possible. What we do know is that this multiplication will not just be “top down,” meaning we just designate lead pastors and that's that. We seek to have the entire congregation of Redeemer – all 6000 to 7000 worshippers commit to the flourishing of one of these three congregations. We also know that one Session and Tim Keller will oversee all of our efforts for the next 5-10 years so that we can retain our common vision of being a church that seeks the peace and prosperity of NYC.
At the moment we're just talking about south of Central Park, since the other three congregations will be east and west of Central Park. However, we do have some excellent data from our April 2009 church census that gives us a breakdown of where our current congregation lives and helps support the case for a Redeemer South:Upper East Side 15%
While we are still thinking through the best way to start the Redeemer South congregation we may begin to form this congregation at services at either Hunter College, the W83 building or both and then search for a worship space that serves our ministry vision in 2012-13.
From its beginning, Redeemer has relied on lay leaders to execute and in many cases (HFNY, CFW, etc.) create new programs. The RENEW Campaign initiatives we are funding now will allow us to tap into the tremendous talent, energy and willingness of lay leaders to take on more responsibility as we move into new neighborhoods. The campaign, with more than 60 volunteers, is the latest example of our lay leaders showing their willingness to continue being the movement that Redeemer has always been. The specific programs we will use to cultivate lay leaders going forward are designed to equip and send people into the city for gospel ministry just as was the case in our church's early days.
For example, we have some programs that can be rolled out or expanded to improve our training and equipping of prospective leaders. Last spring we piloted a new training program called “Gospel in Life” which compresses all of Redeemer's ministry DNA into an intensive training for small groups. What would have normally taken three years to learn, through sermons and quarterly leader's studies, is now compressed into eight weeks. In addition, the Gotham Fellowship is now in its second year, providing intensive theological training for 24 young leaders. We can expand that to serve each of the three Redeemer congregations. In 2011 we hope to roll “Gospel in Life” out to the whole church and use it to equip leaders of the three “new” Redeemers. Further, we hope to add a mid-sized group, different from our Fellowship Groups and larger corporate worship meetings, but centered around neighborhood, vocation or mission, that will help community formation and serving each of the three neighborhoods.
The challenge historically for developing a vibrant, well equipped and large leadership base is threefold.
First, it is difficult to build a stronger, larger leadership base unless we can train more extensively in a shorter period of time. To do this, we will implement both a new more efficient strategy and a broader range of robust training materials for a deeper and more systematic discipleship track.
Second, When Redeemer comprises three distinct congregations there will be an immediate need to increase the number of leaders 3X the current number serving, which will greatly increase new awareness and involvement of many congregants currently not in leadership roles.
Third, if we increase our lay leadership base 3X the current level, we will greatly expand both our potential for new (lay-inspired) ministry ventures and our ability to serve more neighborhoods with our existing ministries.
Hundreds of potential leaders are looking for ways to use their gifts and time to serve Redeemer and its vision. The goal of this process of multiplying into three Redeemers is to engage everyone and open up the opportunity for new innovative ministry ideas and approaches to church involvement. We believe that this process will unleash much more of the creative energy in our congregation to serve the city.
50% to complete construction of W83 Ministry Center The first $10 million raised will be used to complete renovation of the West 83rd ministry center. In the 2005 Vision Campaign we raised money for the down payment on Redeemer's first property. That $8.5M enabled us to search for, find and make a down payment on a property (parking garage) on the Upper West Side (West 83rd Street). The additional $10M from the RENEW Campaign for the W83 building will bring our debt service below 20% of our operating budget.
50% on ministry expansion:
The first step in this process was to determine which of our current pastors were candidates for the lead pastor positions. There were three pastors on staff who went through an extensive evaluation process from October 2009 to January 2010. That process was led by a team of elders and congregants consisting of 9 people and involved several aspects.
A significant part of the assessment consisted of about a dozen people from the congregation rating 12 – 15 sermons from each candidate. The sermon evaluators included Redeemer officers, congregants and non-Christians. In addition, the assessment included multi-rater 360-degree reviews and two different sets of interviews. The primary criteria used were Godliness, preaching, collegiality, entrepreneurism, vision alignment, urban ministry experience and ability to be ordained in the PCA denomination.
Each candidate was judged, assessed and qualified based on the above criteria and all three internal finalists were considered.
Approximately 50 pastors from across the country from various denominations and cities were considered. After an initial screening using the same criteria as that for the internal candidates, 15 candidates were further considered. Those candidates were evaluated and that process resulted in two external candidate finalists that were considered.
Hope is a stance toward life that is neither sentimental nor cynical, that is active and ambitious for church renewal and for life in this world.Ephesians 1:13-23
The hope of the Gospel creates love for the poor – a love with action and service.1 John 3:1-3; 14-20
Hope is the product of the new birth. It changes our lives, how we handle suffering, our inner experience, and our relation to truth. Our changed lives are our testimony to the world that there's hope.1 Peter 1:3-13
Culture has lost belief in covenants, and the family is the ultimate form of covenant. Our own practice of marriage seeking and family building should give the culture hope.Ephesians 5:22-33
Our communities, motivated by grace, should exhibit faithfulness in every area of life, including work. We must understand how the gospel creates distinct patterns of life inside the church that then profoundly affect our participation in the world through our work. We cannot compartmentalize our faith from our work.Titus 2:11-3:9
The hope we have in the gospel creates a community that stands for certain truths, meets regularly, encourages one another, gives thought to each person's gifts and calling in the church and the world, and submits to authority.Hebrews 10:19-25
The hope of the coming of Christ puts all things in a new perspective, including money. We are called to have a deep spiritual contentment that shows itself in a modest lifestyle, avoids the idolatry of money and possessions, and teaches us to use our money in order to do good.1 Timothy 6:6-19
Our Father who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name.
So often when we begin to praise God, we end up thanking Him for things He has done for us. Right now, let's take some time to praise God not merely for what He does for you, but for who He is in himself, for his beauty, his perfection, his goodness. As you pray, name attributes of God and focus on them as we pray.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Spend time confessing your fear of the future, your fear of change, your reluctance to acknowledge that all you have belongs to God. Confess you struggle to be generous, and your reluctance to trust God with all you have and all that you are.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Thank God for the many ways he has ‘fed’ you, the city, and other parts of the world through Redeemer over the past 20 years. Thank God for bringing Redeemer to where we are now, and for the good and fruitful work he has been doing through the Renew Campaign. Thank him for changing your life, and providing for your every need. Thank him for the many wonderful and exciting things happening at Redeemer and for giving you the opportunity to be a part of His work, and a part of His kingdom, in these ways.
Lead us not into temptation; deliver us from evil.
Ask God to give you faith and courage for the work he has for you to do in the years ahead. Ask him to make you ready for the many and perhaps even unknown changes that are coming. Ask him to grow your faith so you will eagerly participate in the mission he has for you, and not resist his guidance, his direction, his Will. Pray that he would protect you from any form of discouragement Satan would wish to bring. And ask him to make you more faithful, individually and collectively, in prayer.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.
As you pray, ask God to lead you, alongside other gospel-centered churches and agencies in NYC, to bring about His Kingdom on earth, to let you be His instrument to impact NYC with His love and grace. Ask God to lead you where he wants you to go, to help you be a faithful follower of his vision, of his plans. Ask him to help you be wise and a good steward of the resources he has entrusted to you. Ask God to renew your love for the city, and give you eyes to see him at work here.
Close this time of prayer with a 30-second prayer specific to this topic, ending with ‘for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.'
There are a myriad of ways to get involved through prayer, a pledge, or practically living out the love of the Gospel.
Email us at email@example.com for more information.
A testimony from a Redeemer member. Click to view in pdf.
We are accepting pledges beyond Celebration Sunday to fund the next phase of the 10-year-plan. You can make a pledge here.
The first step toward becoming three generative congregations starts this fall when we'll begin to grow Redeemer into three unique but joined church bodies located east, west and eventually south of Central Park. We already worship in three locations – two on the Upper West Side and one on the Upper East Side. Redeemer will become three "sister" congregations united by our preaching, our vision for the city, a central ownership of property, and Tim Keller's senior leadership. They will each develop their own plans for serving their neighborhoods. Therefore each will be more nimble, responsive, and will be able to unleash the leadership potential that is currently bottled up in our large infrastructure.
Why three collegiate congregations instead of our current multi-site model?
1. Currently, Redeemer is nearly maxed out; the only way we can grow is to add another site. But if we continue to grow under our current centralized model three problems face us: less "ownership" by the congregation of church life (and more dependence on staff for these things), less connection to the local communities as all activities are centralized, and more distance between individual congregants and the pastoral staff.2. We hope to draw in thousands more unchurched New Yorkers, including those hostile to Christianity, to share with them the transforming power of the gospel.
3. While we want to get small and entrepreneurial again, we also want to maintain many of the benefits of our larger congregation – for example, the pioneering work of the Center for Faith and Work and HFNY. Our global church planting work requires the funding and support of the collective three congregations. Therefore, some of our current work should remain centralized and serve all three congregations. This model gives us the best of both worlds.
4. Regain our neighborhood consciousness.
5. A fifth goal in establishing three generative Redeemer congregations is to ease the preaching load of one single pastor and raise up a new, strong pastoral staff to shepherd and lead each congregation in city renewal and ministry.
While Tim will continue for the next ten years to preach as much as he does now (~40 Sundays a year and 4 services a Sunday), the expanded number of services will give an opportunity for an additional 6-8 younger preachers to preach. Our Fellowship Group system has been the primary training ground, thus far, for next generation pastors. But we need to invest more. During the next ten years, Tim intends to become a 'leader coach' for a select group of lead pastors, assistant pastors, and pastor interns to ensure that we have a pipeline of ordained leadership to carry out this vision of multiplication and reaching the unchurched.
Our first year of Gotham Fellows has graduated 22 well trained new lay leaders, many of whom are engaged in leading this campaign in some way. And almost 200 new leaders have volunteered to lead Beta Groups through the 8-week RENEW Campaign series this fall. One of the first steps in moving toward three Redeemers is mobilizing the lay leadership to "own it" and make it happen. For example, in 1994, there were more leaders meeting monthly than the number who now meet quarterly. People can become passive in a large church. Growing into three distinct smaller congregations will increase the percentage of active leaders in each congregation. If we are to have a movement of generative congregations, we need many more lay leaders.
When it opens in early 2012, we anticipate that we will immediately host three Sunday worship services there. In addition, we are looking forward to being a welcome presence in the neighborhood – hosting cultural programs and classes and serving the needs of the neighborhood. We also pray that our worship service attendance will grow because every current congregant will invite his/her unchurched neighbors in to check us out. It's very likely that we will have the space fully booked – 7 days and nights a week – in the first few months. (BTW - We think that the top floor with its large terrace will be a lovely place for weddings...)
We're so excited about the ministry potential of having 7-day-a-week local space that we want to move forward with finding space for the Upper East Side congregation. At this point we'll need to rent space – not for worship (we'll still worship in Hunter) but for ministry and leadership development. We want the UES congregation to have an opportunity to offer programs for both the congregation and the neighborhood that parallel the activity in the UWS building. The space we will target will hopefully have a large meeting room (150-200 persons), a handful of classrooms, and maybe two or three offices. Ideally, it would be a ground floor space, so we can more easily develop relationships with our neighbors.
In future campaigns we will raise capital for more permanent facilities on the UES and the third congregation south of 59th Street. Ministry Centers, then, will get Redeemer out into the city as full-time neighbors in a way that it has never been before. This will fuel our evangelism, spiritual nurture, mercy and justice, and cultural engagement. Not only will Redeemer continue to reach the broader NYC community through our mercy ministries, but we will embody those ministries daily in the neighborhoods in which we live.