February 4, 2011
Commit to Plant
During our annual celebration I placed a vision before us that involves turning outward in mission, drawing vitality and insight from our identity as a worshiping community. I don’t mean to communicate that we’re not doing these things, but simply that I believe it's time we give more intentional energy, prayer, activity and resources to the outward reach of Redeemer. This is what we’re called to as the people of God, and as we follow Jesus we’ll increasingly find that he leads us to those not yet a part of his community. So over the next few weeks I would like to unpack this a little for us, and also invite your input to the conversation. I’ll also suggest resources and further reading if you want to follow it up. Today let’s look at the first point I shared at the luncheon, that we must Commit to Plant.
I’m forever grateful to those who planted Church of the Redeemer out of a living room over a dozen years ago. That took vision, obedience, and to be honest, some guts. Church planting is very risky, and the majority of attempts do not pass the two-year mark before they close. Some don’t make it that long. It’s simply an indicator of how tough it is to begin new churches, and the kind of spiritual dynamics that are encountered by those who follow God in this way.
If so, then why do it? Don’t we have enough churches already? There are actually great reasons for us to be involved in planting new churches, whether directly or by encouraging others who are already involved in it. Ultimately, I believe Church of the Redeemer is called to both.
The first answer to “why” is that Jesus commands us to it. His final words to his followers, given in the ‘Great Commission’ of Matthew 28, turn us outward with a life giving thrust that is both local and global. Gone are the days when we can think of our local context as a “Christian” one—if that was ever really true. Our mission field is one we know well, as it involves people just like us, and planting new churches out of response to Jesus’ command is not an option. Imagine what things would be like if those who were obedient to plant Church of the Redeemer had failed to do so. I’ll let you fill in the rest of that.
St. Paul gives us a model of mission, as he effectively planted urban churches to spread the Gospel. James of Jerusalem had his role, and it was an important one, to the established communities of Jewish believers. But Paul moved outward, and was a frequent-flier, so to speak, crossing the known world several times in order to birth and encourage new churches.
We also plant churches because it is the best way to reach non-Christians. There are a number of reasons this happens, but as Tim Keller says, its true—period. Established churches develop histories, and matriarchs/patriarchs, closed groups of friends, etc, and can be hard to break into, even for those who work hard to be welcoming. New church plants, by nature, are easily entered by those who are spiritually disconnected, and church planters are especially aware of the importance of reaching people on their level.
Another great reason for us to engage ‘planting’ is that it is renewing to the whole body of Christ. It will test our faith, strengthen our prayer life, and reveal gifts in the church that were previously unseen. By committing to plant in the next season of our life as a church we will know the renewing presence of the Spirit of God and his provision in fresh ways in our own congregation.
In the coming months you will have a chance to meet those we will stand with as they plant new communities of faith in their locations. We’re led to these planters because of relationship—they are a part of our extended Redeemer family—those sent into the world, ‘rejoicing in the power of the Spirit’. Because of this, you already know them, and you will meet others who are partnering with them.
So pray for new churches in Peoria, IL (led by Chris Marchand and Deacon Greg Lynn) and Vancouver, Washington (led by, among others, Rev. Robert Lancaster and Thom Blair). We’re coming alongside them to encourage and provide support in various forms.
This is a commitment we are making that we pray will result in many coming to know Christ, others being renewed in faith and the reconciling power of the cross received as a new reality for many. And yes, we’re praying for this in Peoria and Vancouver, as well.
To read more on the question ‘why plant new churches’ check out helpful online article by Tim Keller, one of the leading church planter-encouragers in America today.
Next week some of our leaders, including these church planters I have mentioned, will be at the Anglican Mission’s Winter Conference. Thank you for your prayers as we go, that we might learn new things, further awaken our gifts, and be encouraged in worship and fellowship.
The Rev. Jay L. Greener, Rector
Church of the Redeemer
Growing Church Plant in Kenosha
Several years ago a new church was launched in Kenosha, WI by several Redeemer folks, Jan and Michelle Anderson, along with some families from Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton. Jan has since been ordained a Deacon and the new church, Light of Christ, has called a Rector. Read more on their growth and vitality by following the link.
A Rwandan February
While we were experiencing one of the worst snow storms in Chicago history and the accompanying arctic plunge, it was a seasonal 83 degrees in Kigali Rwanda, but maybe just a few degrees cooler in the mountains near Sonrise School. We can’t hope to experience their weather anytime soon, but there will be opportunities to celebrate our important relationship with Rwanda in the coming weeks.
Over the weekend of February 19-20 we’ll be welcoming the new bishop of the Shyira Diocese, Laurent Mbanda, and his wife Chantal, to Redeemer. This is a great opportunity for all of us to extend our warmest welcome and support for the new bishop. Our leaders will be meeting with them on Saturday morning the 19th at 9am, then the whole community is invited to a reception at Trinity International University that evening, sponsored by Church of the Redeemer. Then, invite friends to join us in worship Sunday morning, Feb. 20th as we worship together and the bishop brings a message from God’s word.
The Mbanda’s actually lived in our area in the early 1990’s when he was working on his PhD at Trinity, so we’re really welcoming them back to a place they used to call home. It’s our desire they know they have a home at Redeemer. So block off the calendar, and hope for some of that Rwandan weather.
COR Youth: Lives of the Redeemer
During COR@9 the youth are exploring the stories of people’s lives. The next few weeks we will continue to interact with the men and women of Genesis. This is a time of entering into these people’s lives through their stories as we seek to discover who they are, what their stories reveal to us about God and why their lives matter. As we journey through the Old Testament together, we are growing in our understanding of God’s story of redemption. With this grand narrative in mind, we continually seek to discover how these people can speak into our lives today. Also, on February 20th Ricki Rosengren will be joining us to share her story. All Jr. High and High School students are encouraged to participate and welcome to jump in at anytime.
Sunday February 27 we will be hosting the first Newcomers' Lunch of 2011. If you are new to Redeemer or are interested in being more connected to Redeemer please join us! Even if you've been attending Redeemer for a while, if you have not been a part of a past Newcomers' Lunch or Discover Redeemer we would love to have you join us. Fr. Jay will share a brief message of welcome and vision. Other Redeemer folk will be there to share about their experience at Church of the Redeemer, too. We hope this will be a great opportunity to further welcome and connect both new and old. If you are interested in attending, please email Todd Hains (firstname.lastname@example.org), though you need not RSVP. If you are interested in helping in some other way, please contact Todd.
Choosing Great Children’s Books
Parents of young children — How do you pick great books to read aloud? Are libraries a little overwhelming with so many choices? A group of teachers and librarians want to share with you their enthusiasm for great children’s books! Join us at the church on Saturday, March 12, 9:30 – 11:30 for terrific recommendations for your young listeners and readers. All are welcome and nursery care will be provided. Contact Emily or Kate Johnston-Legg for more information.
From Ricki Rosengren:
Thank you, Church, for your amazing support of the Alpha Course! Here is a list of all those who participated with us this fall and winter—
Guests: Erica, Mark, Darren, Antonio, Muneca, Patty, Eddie, Leslie, Ruby, Hector, S’quana, Meredith, Maddie, Caroline, Julia, Victor, Shanae, Tamara, Judy, and Joanie.
Leaders: Jonathan, Djuana, Kari, Dan, Brooke, Josh, and Ricki.
Helpers: Dave, Robbie, and Mary.
Cooks: Paula, Michele, Cindy, Carol, Liz, Ros, Susan, and Ricki.
Enthusiastic Supporters: Joann, Bob, Sallie, Dave, Melissa, Jeff, and Victoria.
Special Contributors: Amanda, Eugenia, and Jonathan.
Pray-ers: Laura, Ray, Kristin, Jim, Donna, Susan, Eunice, Val, James, Eric, Ryan, Judy, Matt, Emily, Jason, Danielle, Debby, Jonathan, Miriam, Judy, Paula, Ros, and Susan.
That is sixty-six different people! What a good thing!
We’re thankful for guests that stay through the entire course, and for a testimony that shared that Alpha offered a blessing like nothing else last fall.
Out of Egypt
Carol McCall has now arrived back home after being in Egypt during the recent outbreak of violence. Carol and other travelers were witness to the demonstrations, and were unable to leave the country as violence escalated. They were finally evacuated from Alexandria thanks to special flights arranged by the U.S government. We give thanks to God for his protection over Carol and others, and continue to pray for peace and divine direction in this historic land.
Thank you for your generosity in the spiritual act of tithing and the giving of offerings and support to our various ministries. Please pray that our work will be fully supported each month.
Offering last Sunday: $3,387
Average amount needed each week: $7,100
Please pray for…
— healing and provision for those in need
— our outward vision as we follow the Lord
— the visit this month of Bishop Mbanda and Chantal