Archive for February, 2011

FAQ’s About Joining Redemption Church

We recently announced that Second Mile is becoming Redemption Church Gateway. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Why is Second Mile joining Redemption Church?
We believe that we’ll accomplish the original vision of Second Mile to embody Jesus and plant stronger churches with greater effectiveness by joining with Redemption Church than by doing it alone. Over the last years of working together in various ways, we’ve experienced strong theological, philosophical, and relational unity that we can leverage to make a bigger impact for Jesus’s kingdom. For other reasons, watch this video.

What will change?
We’ll have greater support and training resources as we plant churches in the southeast valley, and we’ll participate in a state-wide movement of gospel-centered, reformed, missional churches. We will also have cost-effective administrative support that will free up people and money for the sake of mission. In addition, our leaders will be networked with others in similar roles at other campuses, which will provide everyone with opportunities to grow and improve their ministry skills and effectiveness.

Will the Sunday experience change?
The Sunday experience will change very little. It will continue to be planned and overseen by our local elders and ministry teams, as it has always been, and will feel almost identical to what people experience now.

What’s the leadership structure?
Redemption Church is governed by a Leadership Team comprised of Pastors Tyler Johnson, Justin Anderson, Neil Pitchel, Tim Maughan, Tom Shrader, and Luke Simmons. They will serve the church by setting vision and spearheading new ministry opportunities. Each campus also has local elders who lead the mission in their local contexts.

Is there a “corporate office” that is actually in charge?
No. There is a central operations department that handles administrative functions like payroll, accounting, HR, insurance, graphics, and video. There is a movement-wide leadership team providing big-picture leadership and then delegating on-the-ground decision making to the campus elder teams.

Why the name change?
There’s no question about it—we love the name ‘Second Mile’ and all that it represents. At the same time, we are coming together to make a new church. Many church mergers are a result of one church “saving” another church. Redemption Church, however, is the result of healthy, growing churches coming together for the purpose of a shared vision. As such, we are creating something new together, and it is valuable to have the synergy of one unified name. The name ‘Redemption Church’ is also telling about our vision as a people of God—to see everything in life brought under the lordship of Jesus and redeemed.

Will there be diversity between the campuses?
Of course. The ministry needs at each campus vary based on the context of the local community. Some campuses will have ministries and programs that other campuses don’t. All campuses will commit to having an excellent Sunday experience for adults and kids and to having groups be the primary expression of mid-week ministry. Outside of these few commitments, each campus elder team is free to decide what ministries best serve their needs.

How does money work?
Our campus elders will set a local budget and every dollar given at our campus will be earmarked for use through our campus.

What does this mean for the Beyond Campaign?
The Beyond Campaign is still in full effect and all the money given to Beyond will be used for construction and facility costs at the Gateway Campus.

What will happen with students?
Currently the Gateway and Gilbert campuses are the only ones operating a student ministry. Each campus will continue to operate its own ministry to students in its community, but the leaders will begin working together to share ideas and sharpen each other.

How will this change our culture?
Culture has been a big focus of ours from the beginning, and will continue to be an important focus of our leadership. Ultimately, a church’s culture is shaped by the shared attitudes, values, and behaviors of its people and leaders. Since our leaders and people are not changing, we think that our vibrant church culture will continue. Our hope is that as we grow and plant more churches, it will only increase our heart for being gospel-centered and outward-focused.

Has this ever been done before?
Yes and no. We know of many healthy multi-site churches and we know of churches that have joined together. However, most church ‘mergers’ are really more like acquisitions in that one congregation needs bailed out. Thus, we do not know of three existing, healthy churches that have joined together to form a city-wide gospel movement as a multi-site church. If you know of another, please tell us so we can learn from them!

How does this impact my role in the church (as a volunteer or community group member)?
It should give you more opportunities to grow and develop as a disciple and in your ministry. We hope it gives you a growing passion for the gospel to change our city. But, practically speaking, your role in the church continues to be as valuable as it has always been. We have always thrived because of the ownership and service of our people.

What do we lose?
The most obvious thing we lose is our ultimate autonomy. We are now part of bigger movement. Our leadership has embraced this because the Redemption Church vision is so compelling. Additionally, it is worth noting that total autonomy in the local church is a relatively new thing historically. We think it is ironic that we critique rugged individualism in people but most churches express the same we-don’t-need-anyone-else mentality. We think that what we can learn and gain together is more powerful than what we would keep if we stayed alone.

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Why Join Redemption Church?

Yesterday we announced that Second Mile is joining Redemption Church and becoming the Redemption Gateway Campus. The most common and natural question about it is “Why?” This brief video explains four of the key reasons:

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Second Mile is Becoming Redemption Church Gateway!

After much prayer and discussion, the elders of Second Mile Church are delighted to announce that we are becoming Redemption Church Gateway. This means that we will be part of the new multi-site movement in Arizona known as Redemption Church.

I’ll be posting soon with more details about this move, but for now just take a look at a vision video we put together:

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February 23rd Construction Update (New Photos!)

Well, we’ve hit our first construction delay since the project began (some door frames coming in later than expected), but there’s still significant progress since the last update and the delay shouldn’t impact our April opening. You’ll notice that much of the drywall is up, the ceiling is painted out black, and the skylights are in. There’s also a lot of wiring work complete that you can’t really see. Once the door frames come in, things will pick up quickly again.

We’re still praying that we can get in a few weeks before Easter and we’re praying that God uses us to reach many people for Jesus.

In other good news, our Beyond campaign is almost half way to goal in terms of actual giving and continues to come in strong.

Check out the latest photos below:

From the front entrance. Notice the hanging drywall over the refreshment sink area (on the right), the wiring for welcome screens, and the skylights.

A view from the back of "The Box"

A different angle from the back of "The Box," including the sound/tech booth.

The check-in counter (missing the counter)

Looking back towards the main entrance, the restrooms and a tables/chairs storage area.

A view of the admin space, including the framing for the workspace (copier, paper-cutter, etc)

One of the classrooms

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Man Shall Not Live by Facebook Alone

LOVED this post by John Piper. Loved it so much that I’m just reposting it in its entirety below:

Are apps a threat to God-focus? Yes. But it works both ways. Fight fire with fire.

If you are reading your Bible on your computer or your smartphone or your iPad, the presence of the email app and the news apps and the Facebook app threaten every moment to drag your attention away from the word of God.

True. Fight that. If your finger offends you, cut it off. Or use any other virtuous violence (Matthew 11:12) that sets you free to rivet your soul on God.

But don’t take mainly a defensive posture. Fight fire with fire.

Why should we think of the Facebook app threatening the Bible app? Why not the Bible app threatening the Facebook app, and the email app, and the RSS feeder, and the news?

Resolve that today you will press the Bible app three times during the day. No five times. Ten times! Maybe you will lose control and become addicted to Bible! Again and again get a two-minute dose of life-giving Food. Man shall not live by Facebook alone.

I’m serious. Never has God’s voice been so easily accessible. The ESV app is free. TheOliveTree BibleReader app is free (Android users can get any version they want with the free YouVersion app). And so are lots of others. Let the Bible threaten your focus. Or better: Let the Bible bring you back to reality over and over during the day.


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What Would Happen if American Christians Gave?

What do you think the impact would be if American Christians gave generously? The answer will blow you away.

Last Sunday we explored Malachi 3 and God’s expectation that his people would give at least a tenth of their income away for the sake of ministry. God felt so strongly about it that he called it “robbing” him. Most American Christians rob God. Though he asks for at least 10%, the average American Christian gives 2.5%

One bit of information I didn’t get to share was the overwhelming impact that American Christians could make on the world if they actually began to give in a way that honored biblical principles. I came across this in the book Passing the Plate, and what I learned was AMAZING. The authors write:

We estimate that if committed Christians in the United States gave 10 percent of their after-tax income—fully but no more than 10 percent—that would provide an extra $46 billion per year of resources with which to fund needs and priorities. That represents nearly an additional 25 percent of what all Americans—Christians or otherwise—currently give in all types of private philanthropy.

What really matters is grasping the absolutely immense scope and scale of the possible goods that ordinary American Christians could accomplish in the world every year if they simply began to give away 10 percent of their after-tax income. The possibilities are staggering. By our reckoning, with $46 billion they could—in addition to sustaining all currently funded churches, organizations, ministries, and programs—achieve the following:

Cost Description
Global Missions
$330,000,000 Sponsor 150,000 new indigenous missionaries and pastors in nations most closed to foreign religious workers
$2,200,000,000 Triple the resources being spent by all Christians on Bible translating, printing, and distribution to provide Bibles in the native languages of the 2,737 remaining people groups currently without Bible translations
$350,000,000 Provide 50,000 needs-based scholarships of $7,000 each per year for deserving Christian seminary and Bible school students in Africa, Asia, and Latin America
$30,000,000 Translate into four different languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese), publish, and distribute 20,000 copies of 100 new titles per year of the best English-language Christian books for reading in Asia, Africa, and Latin America
$120,000,000 Hire 1,500 new Christian ministers to work in hospitality, evangelism, and discipleship with foreign students studying in U.S. universities
$9,000,000 Finance the organizational infrastructure of a major Christian research and advocacy organization fighting against contemporary economic and sexual slavery worldwide
$75,000,000 Provide funds to help build, expand, or upgrade 75,000 church and ministry buildings in Africa, Asia, and Latin America
$9,000,000 Finance the organizational infrastructure of a major Christian research and advocacy organization fighting for religious freedoms worldwide
$95,000,000 Finance 350 new Christian radio stations broadcasting Christian programming into the least evangelized regions of the world
$50,000,000 Finance 1,000 new interreligious study groups and travel tours per year to promote grass-roots mutual understanding and communication, particularly between Christians and Muslims around the world
$1,000,000,000 Quadruple the total resources being spent by all Christians globally on missions to evangelize the unevangelized world
Global Development and Relief
$2,000,000,000 Finance 5,000,000 grass-roots, micro-enterprise economic development projects per year in poor countries worldwide that employ revolving loan funds for needy entrepreneurs to purchase tools, materials, and equipment to start or expand micro businesses, which they pay pack as their businesses grow
$500,000,000 Completely close the funding gap on resources needed by the current global campaign to eradicate polio worldwide before 2010
$2,000,000,000 Fund 1,000,000 new clean water, well-drilling projects per year in the poorest nations (25% of the world’s population drinks unsafe water), dramatically improving the health of tens if not hundreds of millions of people per year
$1,000,000,000 Finance 10,000 comprehensive faith-based programs of AIDS/HIV prevention, education, and medication in sub-Saharan Africa
$3,900,000,000 Provide full resources needed for a global campaign to prevent and treat malaria worldwide
$2,000,000,000 Supply 1 heifer or 4 hobs (as needed an appropriate) to 4,000,000 needy Christian or other families worldwide per year
$4,550,000,000 Provide food, clothing, and shelter to all 6,500,000 current refugees in all of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
$9,000,000 Finance the organizational infrastructure of a major Christian think-tank and advocacy organization working on creative means to reduce poverty and hunger worldwide
$480,000,000 Quadruple the current annual operating budget of Habitat for Humanity
$1,600,000,000 Double the current annual operating budget of World Vision, which serves 100 million people in 96 nations
$200,000,000 Boost funding to Christian organizations worldwide that provide free and subsidized eye exams, vision care, glasses, limb braces, and prosthetics to 1,000,000 of the poorest and neediest people of the world
$10,000,000,000 Sponsor 20 million needy children worldwide through Christian organizations providing them food, education, and healthcare
$810,000,000 Quadruple all resources currently being spent by all Christians globally on medial missions work
U.S. Christian Ministry and Church Finance
$750,000,000 Hire 10,700 new Christian youth ministers to evangelize, disciple, guide, and counsel U.S. teenagers
$750,000,000 Raise the salaries of 50,000 of the most needy U.S. church pastors by an average of $15,000 each, to provide for proven needs and to increase incentives encouraging the best and brightest young adults to consider callings to ministry
$75,000,000 Fund 500 new Christian Prison ministry organizations providing evangelism, discipleship, and education to prison inmates
$10,000,000 Translate into English 200 per year o the best Christian articles and books by foreign language writers for publication and sale in the United States and other English-speaking nations
$1,800,000,000 Finance the refitting of the heating, cooling, and electrical systems of 20,000 of the most desperate and inefficient U.S. church buildings per year, including the installation (where appropriate, in 1/3rd of the cases) of new PV solar electric generating systems
$1,100,000,000 Fund 5,500 new Family Counseling and Support organizations in the United States and major cities worldwide to bring affordable Christian support and counseling to families, marriages, and individuals in trouble
$4,000,000,000 Hire 50,000 new, trained, church-based adult Christian educators for the re-education of the U.S. Christians in theology, discipleship, and ministry
$9,000,000 Finance the organizational infrastructure of a major Christian think-tank working on Christian perspectives and moralities of new biotechnologies and emerging medical ethics
$9,000,000 Finance the organizational infrastructure of a major Christian research and training center addressing Christian views on mass media and media production and consumption
$3,375,000,000 Provide the hiring of 45,000 church-based U.S. ministers to the elderly whose mission would be to provide Christian fellowship, care, and support to millions of the most isolate, abandoned, disabled, and lonely aging Americans in their homes, nursing homes, or apartments
$75,000,000 Launch 300 cross-race immersion programs around the United States to provide Christians opportunities to live for 2 weeks in different race environments, to learn and build relationships toward more profound racial reconciliation
U.S. Economic Stewardship & Diaconal Ministry
$150,000,000 Provide financial and debt management training to 200,000 U.S. Christians per year who are deeply in debt, to help them get on solid financial ground in order to be able to make them positive financial contributions in the future
$100,000,000 Provide church-based jobs training and career counseling to 100,000 unemployed or welfare-dependent Americans per year
$50,000,000 Finance 25 new U.S. regional faith-based organizations that would provide assistance and subsidies to pay heating and utilities bills to the most needy of the poor and elderly in the United States
U.S. Christian Educational and Scholarship Development
$15,000,000 Pay down the mortgages of 500 Christian middle and high schools by $30,000 each to reduce debt burden and interest payments
$150,000,000 Provide needs-based scholarships of $15,000 each per ear for 10,000 needy U.S. Christian college students
$45,000,000 Provide needs-based scholarships of $15,000 each per year for 3,000 needy Christian seminary students preparing for ministry
$12,000,000 Provide research and writing fellowships to 150 of the best Christian scholars per year to work on scientific and humanities scholarship informed by Christian perspectives that holds promise for influencing higher education and academic scholarship
$202,000,000 Provide 101 $2 million contributions per year to Christian seminaries, divinity schools, colleges, and Bible schools for building campaigns, capital improvements, endowment building, or other demonstrated needs
$6,000,000 Provide graduate school scholarships for 300 of the most promising Christian Ph.D. students per year in various fields of study
$46,000,000,000 = GRAND TOTAL

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How to Accidentally Screw Up Your Ministry

Justin Anderson is one of the lead pastors at Redemption Church, and he was kind to spend some time last night with our leaders at our monthly “2nd Tuesday” gathering. Training leaders is a high priority for us as a church, and Justin’s words were great things for us to hear. I had asked him to speak on the topic, “How to Accidentally Screw Up Your Ministry.” Unfortunately we didn’t have the audio equipment available to record his talk, but here’s a summary of what we learned.

Foundational Principle — Grace Leads to Action

In Ephesians 2:8-10, we learn that we are absolutely dependent on God’s grace. We are saved by God’s grace, period. But this always leads to action always follows from true grace. If you don’t think God loves you by grace, you miss the gospel. If you don’t act as a result of the grace you’ve received, you misunderstand the power of the gospel.

How to Accidentally Screw Up Your Ministry

1. Use guilt, shame, or moralism to motivate people. While guilting people into action is always easier and has power to produce results, it produces only short-term results. The gospel motivates by grace, love, and a compelling vision for the future. So should we. There are times when we need to administer a “kick in the pants” to those we love, but we should not make guilt our de-facto motivator.

2. Stay off mission. Many leaders convince themselves and their people that they “aren’t ready” for mission or that they need to grow more first. The result is that they end up insulated in a Christian subculture that never contributes to the overall Kingdom of God.

3. Use your ministry to prop yourself up. It’s wonderful to receive compliments and encouragement, but if you are using your ministry to find your identity, you are an idolater. One of Justin’s former pastors said, “Compliments are like perfume. Smell them and you’ll be fine, but drink them and you’ll be sick.”

4. Don’t let your ministry get bigger than you. Many leaders put themselves at the center where nothing can happen without them. As a result, the ministry stifles and young leaders never develop their full potential.

5. Forget that your ministry is just a piece of the puzzle of the church. Because we love the ministry we do, it’s easy to see our ministry as the ultimate one. As a result, many leaders and ministries compete with each other rather than serve each other. Leaders are called to raise their sights above this and keep the big picture in mind.

6. Sacrifice your family or personal walk with God for the sake of ministry. If your life is screwed up, your ministry is screwed up. If you don’t pray or love your spouse because you are “doing ministry,” soon you will have no ministry to do and your life will be in shambles.

7. Lead negatively more than positively. Rather than being an encouraging coach who celebrates others’ wins and allows them to have a voice in their development, many leaders focus too much on what is broken and on telling others what to do.

8. Forget that there is nothing more important than knowing, loving, and experiencing Jesus. The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3 that everything was rubbish compared to knowing Jesus. If we forget this, then our ministries–which should be designed to help people love Jesus–miss the mark.

9. Overspiritualize your ministry. These are leaders who pray but don’t plan. They talk but don’t do. This is a mistake. We should both pray and strategize.

10. Underspiritualize your ministry. These are leaders who plan and do but don’t pray. They over-value their creativity and resourcefulness and forget that they desperately need the Lord to guide them.

11. Forget that millions of Christians have come before you. Leaders are prone to have “new” ideas that aren’t really all that new and to convince themselves that their ideas are novel. But they aren’t. For example, in the 90s Bill Hybels talked about being “Contagious Christians” and now people talk about being “missional.” Many of our ideas are not new or novel (if they were it might be heresy), but are simply repackaged versions of things Christians have done for centuries. We would be wise to learn from them and humble ourselves.

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“If I have you by the hand, death is nothing but sleep.” -Jesus

Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, pp. 67-69, commenting on Mark 5:38-42:

Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

Do you think it is odd that when Jesus arrives at Jairus’s house he says that the girl is just sleeping? The parallel account of this story in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels make it clear that Jesus understands she’s dead. She’s not mostly dead; she’s all dead. Then why does he make that reference to sleep?

The answer is in what Jesus does next.

Remember, Jesus sits down beside the girl, takes her by the hand, and says two things to her.

The first is talitha. Literally, it means “little girl,” but that does not get across the sense of what he’s saying. This is a pet name, a diminutive term of endearment. Since this is a diminutive that a mother would use with a little girl, probably the best translation is “honey.”

The second thing Jesus says to her is koum, which means “arise.” Not “be resurrected”: it just means “get up.” Jesus id doing exactly what this child’s parents might do on a sunny morning. He sits down, takes her hand, and says, “Honey, it’s time to get up.” And she does.

Jesus is facing facing the most implacable, inexorable enemy of the human race and such is his power that he holds this child by the hand and gently lifts her right up through it. “Honey, get up.”

Jesus is saying by his actions, “If I have you by the hand, death itself is nothing but sleep.” . . .

. . . There’s nothing more frightening for a little child than to lose the hand of the parent in a crowd or in the dark, but that is nothing compared with Jesus’s own loss.

He lost his Father’s hand on the cross.

He went into the tomb so we can be raised out of it.

He lost hold of his Father’s hand so we could know that once he has us by the hand, he will never, ever forsake us.

HT: Justin Taylor

Click here for additional resources by Tim Keller.

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These Weren’t The Vows You Took

On Sunday, we looked at the idea that marriage is for oneness and we also explored some ways to divorce proof your marriage. I came across this video and thought it was an in-your-face look (also a little bit over-the-top and cynical) at how many people’s marriage vows are functionally irrelevant.

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February 1 Construction Update (New Photos!)

It amazes me how fast things change over at 8743 E Pecos Rd for our new building. I’m told that the changes will soon be less noticeable as greater details begin to be worked on, but now I’m surprised each new time I visit. Below are the latest pictures.

Also, giving for the Beyond Campaign continues to be strong — we’re almost half way to our $500,000 when it comes to actual giving and, as of today, we have 11 months left. Thanks for your prayers and generosity!

Please continue to pray that the glory and fame of Jesus — not our own — would be the driver behind this step. We want people to meet Jesus, disciples to be formed, leaders to be released and churches to be planted. This is a key step on that journey.

Here are the latest photos (click to enlarge):

A/C ventilation pipes now installed in The Box

Frame for drywall video screens in The Box

View down the classroom hallway. Insulation now installed.

One of the classrooms

Door frames for entrance into The Box

View from the main entrance -- Insulation now in the walls

Office/Admin space being drywalled




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