A month ago, I wrote a post entitled "The church: are you a lover or a leaver?". I promised a short series of posts to follow and challenged the other contributors here at CIC to tell us why they love their churches. So far, Frank Gantz and J. Mark Fox have done so (no pressure on the other guys!).
Today it is my turn to tell you why I love my church (and make excuses for why I haven't added any more posts to the series in the process). I am the worship pastor of Redeemer Church in Omaha, NE, a church plant that currently meets in a middle school cafeteria. We will be moving into our own facility in July, just a month shy of our five year anniversary on September 16th. Needless to say, there's a lot that has to get done as we transition from being a mobile-site church to our own space, and I apologize that I have been a little more absent around here lately than I would like. Anyway, here are a few reasons I love my church:
Biblical Dependence: Our sermons are centered around the text. Our Community Groups, by design, are centered around the sermon and thus centered around the text. Our leadership structure, flow of worship, and all the things we say "no" to are based on what we read in the Bible (even when it's a departure from what some of our peer churches are doing).
Humble Shepherding: Pastor Lee Cordell is clearly and continually pointing away from himself and to Jesus as the head shepherd of our church. He is honest about his weaknesses and need to get all of us involved and serving so that he's not the "bottleneck" for what Redeemer will accomplish.
Unchurched Visitors: Based on a completely unscientific survey of the visitors that check out our church week after week, we have a surprisingly high number who have not been to church since childhood, if at all. I would partially attribute this to a factor I heard Tim Keller speak on once. If you preach as if the unchurched and non-Christians are in attendance (even when they aren't), then your members will feel comfortable bringing the unchurched and non-Christians to your church.
Inexplicable Momentum: Our numbers aren't necessarily impressive. We've finally reached an average adult attendance around 100 just in the last couple months. Still, there is an energy and excitement in the air that goes beyond the fact that we're finally getting our own building. I actually think that all the above points are factors. Because we have previously unchurched members, they aren't bringing a consumer mentality from a previous church experience. Because Lee is constantly calling us out to serve, people are getting involved and have "buy in" on the mission early and often. Because the Bible is front and center, it defines our mission, directs our ministry, and dissects our messy hearts.
But there is also a lot happening at Redeemer that is solely from the hand of God. So many things that we cannot control and cannot take credit for have fallen into place (all the way down to the approval by the Omaha Zoning Board for a variance around a zoning issue that would have been an immediate "deal killer"—a variance they've only approved five other times).
Pray for us that we would be faithful to the gospel and, Lord willing, fruitful in our mission to "help people encounter and follow Jesus".