Greetings Redeemer friends and family!
I hope that you managed to celebrate Christmas and the New Year in good spirits despite the circumstances. I hope and pray for a coming year of increasing maturity, faith and love in all your lives. This is a time of year that many of us look back at the previous year and look forward to the coming one and I want to spend a few paragraphs doing just that for Redeemer in Delft.
As I reflect on 2021, I recognize that it has been a difficult year for many of us and I appreciate that you may not want to look back and reflect! I believe it is important to do so, it helps us place things in their proper perspective that may not always be accessible to us in the moment. There have been difficult and frustrating moments in 2021, but in spite of this I remain thankful to God for what He has been doing among us as a community. In all things, the good and bad, I believe more firmly than ever that God is
“working all things for the good of those that love Him” (Romans 8:28)
and my hope and prayer is that we all can grow in embracing this truth and the strength it brings.
I want to reflect in a particular way. Every week as a Staff Team, we sit down and share with each other what is encouraging us, what is challenging us and then we give thanks and pray. This weekly exercise allows us to not be overly discouraged by the challenges we face because we see that God continues to work around us. The encouragements and breakthroughs we see fuel our faith and prayers for what remains unresolved.
So then, what has encouraged us in 2021?
Well, we have added people to our community as members, we increased the number of Life Groups, we married five couples, we ran two Alpha Courses, one Foundations Course and one Marriage Preparation Course. We prepared and baptized nine people into God’s kingdom. We managed to celebrate Easter, Pentecost and Christmas in special ways as the restrictions at the time allowed.
We successfully did live-streams every week, then we ran hybrid meetings, smaller meetings, larger meetings, opened things up and then closed them down again. We also recruited ten new leaders for the New Ground Academy and had the privilege of hosting it in Delft for the first time in October. We saw Jesus heal, bring change, release hope and give freedom to people through our meetings, courses and pastoral work both large and small.
We saw people from our church step up to lead, to preach, to serve and to teach for the first time and develop their gifts on Sundays and other contexts. In addition to this we were blessed by some guest speakers this past year, we had Dave Holden speak to us in July, Chris Taylor and Henk Kersten visited us several times during the past year.
We can also be very thankful to God for our finances this year. Our monthly income from giving was strong and we had a generous Gift Day in May. This has allowed us to add a new member of staff and end the year with a healthy surplus to be able to invest in growth in 2022. Moreover, on top of this we were able to give almost €40.000 to external parties from what we received throughout the year to help others continue and build their work.
What a year! And I am sure I am missing a lot of what God has done.
What is challenging us looking ahead in 2022?
Looking forward to 2022, there are big challenges ahead (there always should be in a life of faith), but as I said before our encouragements from 2021 should build up our faith for what God can and wants to do this year.
Let me take you through some of them so that you can join with us in praying for God to help us overcome these things because as the prophet Zechariah said, it is:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)
Challenge 1: Remaining faithful, hopeful and loving in this time.
First of all, we are still in a pandemic with all the consequences this brings. It continues to apply its pressure to all our lives and our community in different ways. We are still in a process of change, a grey zone, a transition, a no man’s land between the pre-pandemic world and the post-pandemic world and transition is hard for everyone. No one really knows what the post-pandemic world is going to look like and we will not even be sure when we have arrived there either. We cannot go back, however much we may want to, but we are not sure what forward looks like either. It requires faith and courage to keep walking the path ahead with God and not lose hope or let our love for others grow cold. The apostle Paul says:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
We can get so fixated on other things, but here he reminds us that these three are what really matters in life and following Jesus.
Challenge 2: Finding and building from God’s blueprint for our church post-pandemic.
As much as it may feel like it, God has not left us alone. He speaks into this transition process. I began last year with casting the vision for what we believed God was doing with us as we went through 2021 into 2022 in a series called Upgrade. I outline how I believed God was calling us to change some deep attitudes in our hearts. I said that He wanted us to be less reliant on human performance and planning and instead more reliant on His Presence. He wanted us to give up our pursuit of autonomy and independence and instead rest under His authority and grace. He also desired that we would give up being consumers of spiritual services and become co-creators and builders of His kingdom on earth. Hearing a message is one thing, doing it is another. We want to be faithful to what we have heard and to do it. We believe that God is the architect of the church and we believe He is going to reveal as we go through this year the blueprint of the new thing He is building. This will affect how we move forward as a community in Delft; whether we look for a bigger space to meet, or multiple spaces; whether we prioritize Sundays or throughout the week; whether we stop things or start new ones. We will require flexibility, adaptability and courage to move out of our comfort zones into these things.
Challenge 3: Restarting things…again!
We will need to restart our physical meetings again after the lockdown – however long it lasts. This is not a straightforward or easy process. For those of us that remember high school physics. F = ma, or in words: force equals mass times acceleration. There is only a small force required to keep something moving against friction, whilst getting the same thing moving from stopped requires a lot more effort! It is the same with church activities.
Challenge 4: Partnering in planting a new church in Rotterdam
This month a group of people from our church and elsewhere will start gathering together in Rotterdam to begin to prepare the ground for planting a church there in the course of this year. We have been praying for this moment for many years and it is very exciting to see that God has brought our dreams and prayers to life. Praise God! As exciting as this is for the group being sent and for the kingdom of God in Rotterdam. This is a sacrifice for us. It is going to be something that we feel deeply as a church community and some of us will need to step up into the gaps created. We are going to lose some wonderful people who have sacrificed, served and helped build what we have now in Delft. Nevertheless, we believe in building the kingdom of God and not any local church and therefore, sending people is part of our core mission. We believe that this will create space for people to step up in service, in giving and in leadership. Could this be you?
That is all for now. Thanks for making it this far!
Much grace, love and peace,
on behalf of the Leadership Team