Redeemer Fellowship’s mission, “To Make Disciples As Disciples”, is unpacked in three environments we call The Table, The Pulpit, and The Square. Previously I explained what we mean by The Table and The Pulpit (be sure to check those out before moving on to this post). The Square is the environment where we seek to embody Christ’s words, “love your neighbor” while sharing the gospel whenever possible. Here we are sent out into the world to proclaim God’s glory by loving others, and invite people to come to know and worship the one God in spirit and truth. We call this environment “The Square” because it takes place in the public square. The Square leans more outward in that we are all directing our attention to our neighbor whom God loves dearly.
Often a church has the mentality of trying to remove itself from any interaction with the world. This is neither possible nor biblical. We are called to be both light and salt; neither can happen when we shelter ourselves. The great irony is, such reclusive Christians are the same who bemoan “losing the culture wars” yet have arrogantly stood aside refusing to interact. I use the word arrogantly intentionally. It is arrogance when we stand on the sidelines because we believe we are too good to be part of society. It is equally arrogant to stand on the sidelines and enter it periodically because we believe “they” (society) needs us to save them. There is a need, we all have it, a need of a Savior. The church must lay aside and abandon an “us” vs “them” mentality and embrace “we.” Then, and only then, will the church learn to love others.
At Redeemer we seek to live in The Square in four ways: through participation, restoration, conversation, and multiplication. Each of these can happen in both formal and informal ways.
As a church we seek to be involved in the life of the community in natural and normal ways. As a church we should formally participate in the Scarecrow Fest downtown. But individually and informally we encourage our members to simply be present and participate in the city God has placed them in. This takes some intentionality, but shopping local, attending events, being a good patron, and tipping well demonstrate that participation is the easiest level at which we engage the culture. The big takeaway is to get involved in the life of the community. Know the rhythms of your town. If they have annual events, note those events and plan to find ways to get involved. Show the community that you love the town and are proud to be living together.
Formally our church has ministries that look to bless people in our community. From Clothes Closest (monthly distribution of gently used clothing and items) to ESL classes, Prison Ministry to our Prayer Ministry. Through ministries like these we seek to proclaim the prayer that Christ taught us, “Your Kingdom come.”
Informally, community groups serve their neighbors through volunteering at food pantries, Feed My Starving Children, or having bake sales to help support various ministries in the area. Of course as individuals we call our people to action in loving and serving their neighbors with hearts of compassion and hands of mercy.
One of the best ways to be involved in the public square is to strike up a conversation. I don’t mean going through the four spiritual laws or the Romans road. I mean getting to know people. Find those places around town where people will get to recognize you as a regular. It is no secret that many of our members are locker members at a local cigar shop. If you enter the shop, often you will see members having conversations with other “regulars”. Conversations vary from technology, to politics, to movie preferences. Football season is coming up and many of us will be involved with our friends at the cigar shop in a league. This has been an incredible opportunity and we (Joe, Pat, and I) are tremendously blessed to call them our friends. We have had great conversations on faith, have walked with some during difficult seasons, have prayed, and have counseled. Lately, we have seen people from the shop coming to church. This didn’t happen overnight nor was our intention to promote our church, but we sought to love with a love that is only possible through Christ.
Some though are gifted as evangelists and have no problem going right into a Gospel presentation. They are uniquely gifted and called to glorify God by witnessing.
Whether you are a conversationalist or evangelist, all are called to love our neighbors.
The fourth way the environment of The Square is worked out is in multiplication. This has been primarily done in church planting. We both train and send out church planters (we have sent out three of our own church planters) and give financial support to church plants. We do this primarily through our involvement with both Acts 29 and the North American Mission Board. We firmly believe that a great way to spread the Gospel is for churches to plant churches. Redeemer has always strived to remain a certain size and to ensure that, we love sending our people out to plant churches. Another way we help in multiplication is through church revitalization. Churches that are struggling will often ask for assistance and guidance and we love helping them walk them the transition as much as we are able. From re-planting their church to re-branding, we love helping churches move forward.
The environment of The Pulpit is not only instrumental to the spreading of the Gospel, but instrumental in our own discipleship. One can not claim Christ while at the same time refusing to extend his love and message to our neighbors. We have been given a wonderful gift and joy in knowing God, why would we keep this selfishly to ourselves? Seek ways to be involved in the public square through participation, restoration, conversation, and multiplication.