Redemption Church of Bristol was founded in October 2009 with the simple goal of breathing new life into Bristol Borough. We were a group of 20 misfits who were sent by our sister church The Well, in order to see something new come alive.
Bristol is a beautiful town, nestled along the Delaware, with a deep sense of community, and a history going back to 1681. We love walking the streets and saying hello to neighbors and shop owners we know by name. Charming old houses, a classic main street, and a great waterfront all make us love Bristol.
But back in 2009, Bristol was a town badly in need of revitalization. The industry that was once the backbone of the area has left, leaving many of our storefronts empty and many of our neighbors without jobs. As demographics changed, our schools and churches struggled to keep up. It was not rare to walk down our main street on a Friday night and be the only one out.
It was this combination of possibility and need that first drew us to Bristol. In the fall of 2009, we went all in. We launched our service, got out on our main street, and got to know our neighbors in need. God did amazing things during those first three years (like a homeless wedding!). But 3 years in, we found ourselves exhausted and not any bigger than when we started. After lots of prayer and a few tears, we had to ask ourselves, “Maybe God wants something different from us?”
In the summer of 2012, we started meeting in one of our living rooms. And we all exhaled. We stopped trying to build a church (setting up chairs and a AV system) and started investing in one another. We stopped trying to write perfect sermons and started asking honest question of the scripture we were studying. We found that when we knew people by name and called them personally into their faith, they grew in profound ways. And after that, there was no going back. We fell backwards into being a house church network.
A NEW MISSION TO BRISTOL
As we went all in on discipleship, we also found a new energy for mission. This energy wasn’t based on starting new programs, but following the faith of those within our church. We have helped Redemption members start our First Friday street festival, open a coffee shop in town, launch an art studio, lead a homeless housing initiative, and start discussion groups for those outside the church. We also hope that in discipleship, we are helping our members to be good husbands and wives, good mothers and fathers, good neighbors and friends. Good mission, after all is more about who we are than what we do.
These days, Bristol is on the up and up, with new businesses, new people, and a new energy about it. And yet the challenge remains the same: to breath new life into Bristol Borough. To bring the hope and love of Christ to a weary world. To be the aroma of Christ to everyone we meet. We still believe the most radical thing we can do is help one another fall more in love with God and become like Christ. And so we gather in our living rooms, week after week, open the scriptures, open our hearts in prayer, and listen for how God is calling us. Come on out and join!