Sometimes, among the right crowd, I'll refer to myself as a "parachurch planter."
I suppose I say that for a few reasons.
First, it's unusual enough to make people curious and keep listening, and maybe it'll stick in their mind.
Second, it's a gesture of respect and admiration for those of you who are called to plant churches. Church planters are my new heroes, right up there with teachers and soldiers, and I like to champion church planting to anyone within earshot.
Another reason: I feel like a church planter a lot of the time.
See, we have two main teams at Redeemer City to City: the Church Planting Center team (RCPC) and the Content Labs team. The two parts work together very closely in a common mission and vision.
The Church Planting Center is a healthy, midsize organization that's been growing steadily for nearly a decade, while Labs (which I lead) is a pure startup ministry. Our job is to put the DNA of Redeemer into transferable forms so that leaders can use it for gospel movements in cities.
And, as the startup part of our organization, we have a lot in common with church plants: limited resources; an ambitious and (we believe) compelling vision; the constant drumbeat to do everything now; a passion to get everything perfect; the need to discern when it doesn't have to be perfect; the nagging internal questions over whether people will show up; the relentless pull of our own idols and high expectations; the desire to make it all a beautiful sacrifice to the Lord; the constant reminder that we are in danger of making it all a monument to ourselves; and the need to always keep our "audience" in the front of our minds.
Which brings me to the reason I put all this here: because you, if you're on this site, are our ministry. You're the community we're trying to serve and support and maybe even love (on our best day) through our work. You're the people we identify with, the neighborhood we're contextualizing to. We are always trying to be inside your heads, think about your needs, figure out what we can do to help you make your gospel ministry just that much more penetrating, sacrificial, durable, beautiful.
And we're inviting you, with humility and excitement and trepidation, into our service, our offering, our act of community and worship. We call it Redeemer City to City. It's our training and coaching programs for church planters in cities (RCPC). It's a growing community for agents and practitioners of the gospel. It's this site (and all the bigger things it will become). It's a series of books, curriculum, and other physical and digital resources that we are working very hard to publish.
It's for you whether you are one of those slightly overzealous Tim Keller fanboys (we know who we are) or have never heard much at all of Tim Keller or Redeemer Church and don't really care to.
And to belabor the analogy a bit longer, just like with any healthy church, at some point it really isn't about the amazingly talented staff (though we do have some pretty talented people at Redeemer City to City) or the charismatic leader up front (and Tim is certainly one of the best). It's about the community itself in action.
Sure, in one sense Redeemer City to City will always be about Tim, and Redeemer, and those of us who work on it full-time. Yet we dearly pray that in another, very real sense, the leaders of gospel movements in cities all over the world can make this offering their own.
So if you can see that there is something very special here with a great vibe, great DNA, great assets, and great vision -- but missing you -- we'll be doing our job.
Toward that end: come in, browse, register, download, comment. Make it better, make it yours. Be patient. Keep coming back. Bring your talents into it, the way you want people to bring their talents into your church -- so that it can be more of what God has called it to be.