How We Grow
Deep Discipleship, Intentional Simplicity, Covenant Membership
⏱ 16 min. read
This is part three in a series of presentations on our nine core convictions. You can read about our convictions on worship here. And you can read how we engage in gospel mission here.
Embracing Deep Discipleship
At Redeemer, we believe that deep discipleship begins with understanding who we are in light of Christ’s transformative work. Just as a tree’s roots determine the breadth of its canopy, our growth as a church relies on two vital roots: biblical community and rigorous catechesis. Through shared life and intentional teaching, we aim to become deeply formed disciples who can shelter and impact our city.
If Redeemer will be the sort of church that grows to shelter and shade our city (Cf., Lk 13:18-19), then we must have two deep roots to anchor our work.
Discipleship as a Heart Posture
Discipleship is more than a mere process or method—it is a heart posture. Making a disciple is more akin to teaching a heart what it should love more than walking a person thorough KPIs or checklists. It shapes our loves and desires.
To address the challenges of deconstruction in our culture, we take seriously the questions individuals have and provide biblical answers that foster a deep submission to Jesus Christ. That is, we have to cultivate a heart posture of love for Christ as the answer to the longing of our heart. By being intentional in what we hear, see, and love, which springs from our first three convictions, we become what we love.
The Three-Axes of Discipleship
Discipleship at Redeemer extends along a three-axis horizon. First, we move forward from sin toward Christ, growing in our obedience to Him. Second, we engage with others who can help us see and understand the truths of the Christian life. And third, we deepen our knowledge of God, equipping us for more caring and precise ministry. To facilitate this growth, we emphasize three main tracts: the Sunday gathering, adult education, and community groups.
Critically, on each axis we are evaluating what we love. Kevin Vanhoozer’s analogy of a disciple-maker to an eye doctor offers valuable insight into the process of discipleship. At Redeemer Church, we strive to fulfill this role by exposing and critiquing the lies that blind individuals, while also guiding them towards a clearer vision of Christ through Scripture. This holistic approach to discipleship involves three axes: moving away from sin towards Christ, engaging with fellow believers, and deepening our knowledge of God.
The Three Tracts of Discipleship
To engage ourselves in deep discipleship, Redeemer Church focuses on three main tracts: the Sunday gathering, adult education, and community groups.
- The Sunday Gathering: The Importance of Ministry in the Assembly. The Sunday gathering serves as a platform to dramatize the ministry of the Word, allowing the assembly of saints to participate in liturgy, sacraments, and hearing the Scriptures. Corporate worship sets what John Sarver called “the pattern of discipleship” by gathering a people regularly to love to the Word of God. At Redeemer Church, we understand that faithful Bible teaching remains paramount and vital for those seeking a church community.
- Adult Education: Expanding Discipleship into All Areas of Life. Deep discipleship encompasses every aspect of life, prompting the need for education and growth in various domains. By addressing lies and barriers to love, service, and godly living, Redeemer Church empowers individuals to embrace discipleship within their relationships, vocations, and parenting journeys. This includes Sunday morning and week-night equip classes along with periodic firesides on culturally significant issues. At Redeemer, any interested adult, young adult, or mature child may attend any class that interests them.
- Community Groups: Practicing the Christian Life Together. In community groups, the Christian life is lived out in close fellowship with others. These small groups provide opportunities for mutual edification, the application of biblical teachings, and multiplication. They serve as spaces where hearing moves to action, transforming our living rooms into the front lobbies of our church.
Embracing Intentional Simplicity
In a world filled with endless options and complicated programs, we believe in focusing on what truly matters. Join us on a transformative journey of spiritual growth as we prioritize intentional simplicity in our approach to discipleship.
At Redeemer, we recognize that complex programs can often hinder the process of disciple-making. We refuse to equate discipleship with a mere process, because, ultimately, spiritual growth comes from God. No input of “spiritual experiences” can net a Christian. Intentional simplicity keeps the clear gospel in front of us always and frees each of us to initiate one-on-one discipling relationships or community groups amongst ourselves.
Rooted in God’s Grace
Every Lord’s Day, we gather to experience the abundant promises of God’s grace. Through the reading of Scripture, soul-stirring hymns, participation in the Lord’s Supper, and the faithful proclamation of God’s Word, we continually remind ourselves of His unwavering grace and mercy. Additionally, our commitment to regenerate membership serves as a catalyst for mutual encouragement and perseverance in grace.
Pursuing Biblical Wisdom and Knowledge
To deepen our understanding of God and His Word, we orient ourselves within the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. Through intentional community engagement, we embrace practices that nurture spiritual growth and wisdom. Our adult education programs provide comprehensive teaching on the doctrines and practices of the Christian faith, empowering individuals to live out their beliefs authentically.
Cultivating Authentic Relationships
At Redeemer, we value authentic relationships that foster meaningful life experiences. Within our church family, we encourage gospel friendships that provide mutual aid and support. By extending radical hospitality to a polarized and lonely world, we strive to create a welcoming and inclusive community that reflects Christ’s love.
Crafting Opportunities to Love Our Neighbors
We believe in sharing the transformative message of Christ with our neighbors, skeptics, and seekers. Through inviting them to discover the answers to their toughest questions in Christ, we create opportunities for genuine connection and spiritual growth. Furthermore, we actively seek to integrate our diverse vocations with the expansion of God’s kingdom and the flourishing of our local community. As a church, we are committed to planting healthy churches both locally and globally, sending our best people to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Embracing Covenant Membership
Consider how sin affects a church’s witness: How many of you have had conversations about hypocrasy within the church? How many people do you know have walked away from the church because of sin?
Covenant membership at Redeemer Church strengthens our witness to both the outside world and our internal community. As we address the challenges and responsibilities of church membership, we strive to demonstrate the transformative power of the gospel in our lives. Covenant membership fosters accountability, growth, and a shared commitment to upholding biblical principles.
The Importance of Covenant Membership
At Redeemer, we believe that church membership is a privilege and a responsibility. It requires dedication to the church through active participation in attendance, prayer, service, and giving. Moreover, discipline plays a vital role in guiding church membership, as it helps maintain the integrity of our gospel witness. Our leaders are committed to exercising firm discipline out of love for the congregation and to uphold the teachings of Christ.
Life together means calling one another to persevere in faith in both the positive and negative sense.Hebrews 12:14–15 urges us to strive for peace and holiness, emphasizing the importance of cultivating a community that encourages one another positively and confronts sin with grace. Through overwhelming encouragement and expressions of gratitude for each other’s contributions, we foster a culture of support and accountability.
Hebrews 12:14–15 ESV
14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
Positively, we will offering overwhelming encouragement to one another.
Negatively, we warn of sprigs of bitterness that beget sin. Boasting of so-called grace in the face of sin is not godly.
1 Corinthians 5:6–7 ESV
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
So, we want to live close enough to one another than we can guard each other against the dangers of harboring bitterness and boastful attitudes, acknowledging that a little leaven can have far-reaching consequences.
The Process of Discipline
In the event that a member falls into unrepentant sin, the Redeemer congregation is called to act in accordance with biblical principles. First, the individual is privately warned and prayed for by fellow believers, with the hope of repentance. If the sin persists, a trusted elder or another appointed member may approach the individual, using Scripture to highlight the severity of the sin and urge repentance. Should the individual remain unrepentant, the matter may be brought before the congregation during a business meeting, where admonishment and warnings are given. Ultimately, if the individual persists in unrepentance, the congregation may affirm that they cannot claim to be a follower of Christ, including withholding the bread and wine of the Supper.
The Power of Godly Discipline
While the concept of discipline may seem challenging, it serves as a safeguard for the church community. Instances where pastors or individuals have evaded discipline have resulted in reproach and harm to the ministry’s reputation. On the other hand, disciplined individuals who have engaged in godly conflict have experienced redemption, restoration, and the strengthening of their faith. By responding with love and intervention, we demonstrate our commitment to helping one another walk in obedience to Christ.
The Witness of Covenant Membership
Covenant membership in Redeemer Church speaks volumes to the watching world, those in the process of deconstruction, and those seeking answers for the eternity God has placed in their hearts. It affirms our belief that life united with the Triune God is the epitome of truth, goodness, and beauty. As covenant members, we embrace the responsibility of being our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, actively supporting each other’s growth in Christ.
What Covenant Membership Entails
Covenant membership at Redeemer Church means being part of a fellowship of baptized believers who share in the grace of God, uplift one another, and persevere together toward glory. We recognize the inseparability of baptism, the Lord’s Supper, membership, and discipline, as they are interconnected in Scripture. Our commitment to one another stems from acknowledging our mutual need for God’s grace and the transformative work it has accomplished in our lives.
Again, you can think of these convictions as motivations for our future church’s shared life. Deep discipleship, intentional simplicity, and covenant membership are the marks for our how we intend to share life together.
Redeemer will make deeply formed disciples by covenanting together with intentional simplicity.
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Additionally, the nine priorities are inspired in part and partially adapted from River City Baptist Church, “Priorities,” https://rivercityrichmond.org/priorities.
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