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Goodbye, Second Mile. Hello, Redemption Gateway.

Today was an exciting and emotional day for me. Almost three years ago the dream and planning for Second Mile Church was born. Today was the final worship gathering for Second Mile Church at Perry High School as we are moving next Sunday into our own full-time facility at 8743 E Pecos Rd and officially becoming Redemption Church Gateway.

I snapped this picture on my way in to church today and remembered that this would be the last time I would see this sign out:

We had a great worship service together, which concluded with singing “You Have Done Great Things.” What an appropriate end to the gathering and to this season of ministry.

Afterwards, a few dozen of our faithful “make it happen” crew took the trailer over to the new building and began to  unload some of our equipment. We had a great time working and anticipating what God will do.

Next week our location changes and our name changes. But our God doesn’t change, his glorious gospel doesn’t change, and the wonderful opportunity we have to represent his Son doesn’t change. It’s been a wonderful season, and the best is still to come. Thanks to so many of you for your prayers, support, service, and work over these last few years. I am eternally grateful.


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It’s Back On! First service in New Building is May 22nd

We’re not kidding. This has been a roller-coaster but we have found an alternative light solution that will allow us to have our first worship services in the new building on Sunday, May 22nd.

Please note these important changes to our event schedule:

1. We will be having the Move-in Work Day tomorrow, 5/14 at 8am. Sadly, the event was deleted from The City, but if you were planning on coming and bringing something, please do. We will have plenty of work to do.

2. We will be having our Volunteer Training Night on Wednesday, 5/18 from 6:30-8:00pm. If you volunteer on Sundays in any capacity, please do whatever you can to come. We will have childcare.

3. We will not be doing a BBQ/Open House prior to moving in. We’ll try to do something soon after, but considering the whirlwind, we had to prioritize.

If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks for your understanding and support during this exciting time!

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Coming Soon – Summer at Redemption Gateway

Summer 2011 should be a fun and unique season for our church, and I wanted to let you know some of what’s coming and invite you to join with us!


Progress on 8743 E Pecos Rd is in the home stretch. Our latest estimation is that we may be able to have our first Sunday be May 15 or May 22. Click here for serving opportunities as we move in.


The spring semester winds down the week of May 16, and this summer we will not be starting a new semester. Since the summer semester is so short, we thought we’d try some summer events (see below) as a change. If you’d still like to gather as a group during the summer, that’s up to you. Groups will re-launch in late August with a new name: Redemption Communities.


Over the summer we’ll be doing at least 4 outward-focused serving events (probably with House of Refuge and/or some door-to-door evangelism and inviting) and 4 fun community-building events (pool party, adults-only 80’s night, CD release party for Kristie Braselton, and a good ol’ fashion church potluck). Almost all of these events will be family friendly, will be accessible for your unchurched friends, and will be a great way for our whole church to have fun while serving Jesus.


We’ll be offering training for new and existing group leaders as well as some other practical training in other areas of ministry. If you would like to go through the group leader training, please contact John Kronwald (johnkronwald[at]redemptionaz[dot]com). All of these training experiences will help us prepare for a great fall together.


The Gateway students are doing summer camp in Big Bear, CA from June 12-18. They’ll serve, have fun, learn, go to Six Flags, and build some wonderful memories. Cost: $350/student, due May 29.


Beginning June 5th, we’ll do a 13-week summer series on Doctrine. We’re still working on the official title, but the gist will be a run-through of the key biblical beliefs we should hold as followers of Jesus.

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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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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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