Practicing Discernment: Redeemer City Church (NE Washington, D.C.)

From time to time I will throw up a church that will allow you to practice discernment.  Today I am throwing up a webpage for a church plant in the D.C. area that will be a quiz.  I will refrain from commenting for three weeks and then I’ll write a post on it. Today’s post is a recent plant called Redeemer City Church in Northeast Washington, D.C.  Have at it…let’s practice some discernment! Let’s be Bereans!

“Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.”

Casey Stengel

“I can’t afford to be a member of a golf course.”

Jack Abramoff

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true

Acts 17:11 NIV

It’s my commitment on this blog to teach evangelicals how to think critically, examine a church and look at the organization at a whole and ask this one simple question. How healthy is it? Seriously how healthy is the church they are looking at? Its my contention that many evangelicals struggle with discernment and thinking through a church. The goal of these posts is to challenge people to think for themselves. The last time I did this was for an Evangelical Free Church in Chantilly, Virginia called Ambassador Bible Church. In this post I opened it up to have people comment and analyze the church. I refrained from commenting or saying anything, after all I want to have you fine individuals engaging in the commentary. After some time then I will weigh in and analyze it from an Eagle eyed view. You can see the analysis I did at Ambassador Bible Church here.

This blog is committed to the Washington, D.C. area. This truly is a hard area to live in and you don’t need to deal with a questionable religious organization on top of that to make your life difficult. Scripture is full about passages warning about the wolves, and about being Bereans. So in this post I am asking the Bereans out there to study and examine this website for this church plant in the Washington, D.C. area. The name of this church is called Redeemer City Church. It is led by Steven Lee and Kenneth Jones. With that I am going to turn this over to you and ask you to analyze and think through this church.

  • What do you learn from the website?
  • What can you learn about their doctrine?
  • What can you learn from their associations?
  • What can you learn from their membership process?
  • What can you learn from the internet?

So with that have at it guys! I will weigh in later this month and leave this open for about three weeks just like last time.

18 thoughts on “Practicing Discernment: Redeemer City Church (NE Washington, D.C.)

  1. From their membership application:
    “Are you committed to giving generously, regularly, and cheerfully to financially support Redeemer City Church? *
    Are you currently giving financially to Redeemer? If not, why not? *”
    Yeesh, is this where you want to start with a local church? Just for the record, I checked “No” above.

    Also to become a member you first have to get approval from the “elders”. This doesn’t sound like an exercise in “the greatest among you shall be your servant”. Who are these elders and how did they get recognized as such? That elders are not listed indicates to me the pastor runs things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What does this comment mean? We are not a court of law here that decides if a church or ministry should close up shop. It is okay to weigh statements here or disregard them entirely and take your chances.

      Are you implying that if I see red flags and sense a pattern I should remain silent and not provide warning unless an actual offense has been perpetrated? The evangelical landscape is littered with thousands of victims and refugees from authoritarian church structures. Are you saying we should not discern whether a church is authoritarian and warn people away until victims come forward?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The real test of discernment is if people still think it’s a good idea to join such a place after reading their discernment quiz–if they decide to join up regardless, they lack discernment, if they reject the place out of hand, they have discernment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are tons of red flags.
    They were commissioned as a church plant of…The Village Church-red flag.

    They felt called to …start a gospel-centered, multi-ethnic church “gospel-centered is code for neo-calvinist with its authoritarian leadership and women’s submission.

    only male leadership/pastoral staff

    One of the Q&A for the pastor is, What is a gospel-centered Church? “Gospel-centered” is often code for authoritarian leadership and women’s subordination.

    They are in general agreement with the T4G Affirmations and Denials, and they affirm the foundational documents of the Gospel Coalition= authoritarian leadership and women’s subordination.

    From their Statement of Faith:
    We believe that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel; observing the ordinances of Christ; governed by His laws; and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His word; that its only scriptural officers are Bishops or Pastors, and Deacons, whose qualifications, claims, and duties are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus. (meaning only males)

    Husband and wife are both made in God’s image and have equal value before God; while at the same time possessing distinct roles in the marriage. The husband is to gently lead and sacrificially love his wife as Christ loved the church and the wife is to graciously submit herself to her husband as the church willingly submits to Christ. (meaning women’s subordination=equal but separate)

    Church Covenant:
    They stand and reaffirm their commitment to the membership covenant before communion, which strikes me as misplaced loyalty. Why not reaffirm their commitment to follow Christ?

    This covenant must be signed.

    The covenant requires that a member cheerfully and regularly give financially to the church and when a person moves from their church, they will ASAP unite with another church that follows the same covenant.

    The next two smack of too much control and busybodyness (is that a word?)
    …exercise an affectionate care and watchfulness over each other and faithfully admonish and entreat one another…
    …We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together …

    Their membership process is bizarre. It sounds like joining an exclusive club rather than becoming a family member through adoption by God. At least people aren’t obligated to become members.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EACNBEY, You have the [ dying ] Episcopal Church as one of your alternatives. They’d be delighted to have you. They haven’t worried about the words of Scripture in a few decades.

      You gotta appreciate the new church; they spell it out.


      • Seneca I’ll pop in here and say I don’t think many Baptists are concerned with following scripture either at times. With vs. like Romans 13:1 about submitting to the state why do many SBC churches cover up scandal, financial issues and child sex abuse? If you’re going to have a high view of scripture…shouldn’t criminal activity be repotted to the God ordained state?


      • Senaca, I don’t think the alternative to a potentially authoritarian church is a potentially apostate church. So I don’t know understand the need to inject a binary choice other than the old dodge “everybody has issues” argument. I do agree, “they spell it out”, the interesting part is to discuss what is spelled out.


  4. Well, I noticed what I would consider several red flags.

    The ones that really jumped out at me were as follows:

    1. No information on the leadership structure of the church and discipline process.

    So, while I can learn of personal information on key church leaders — their interests, etc. — I have no way of knowing if the church’s leadership operates in a healthy manner.

    Can leaders be approached by members?
    Do they acknowledge their sins and repent when they are wrong?
    What if the leadership turns on the individual, when the individual is in the right biblically?
    How does the church handle discipline of non-leader members?
    Is disagreement on non-essential issues of the faith ok?

    2. More written information on the pastor and key leaders than on Jesus Christ.

    Frankly, I found no clear, written presentation of the Gospel on the website. Had I not already been a believer, I wouldn’t know who exactly Jesus Christ were, based on what I read on the website. But, I would know who the pastor and key leaders were.

    To me, that is quite problematic.

    Also, what about other members of the congregation who have shepherding gifts? Are they also treated as pastors in the church? Are they allowed to use their gifts to the same extent, even when they aren’t in leadership? How about folks with the gifts of teaching, leadership, discernment, etc.? (I personally recognize all biblical gifts; but I realize that different believers adhere to different interpretations regarding these things, and I respect that.)

    3. Requirement to be in a covenant relationship with that particular congregation — a separate covenant from one’s relationship with the Lord through Christ. Here are the parts I find especially problematic:

    “We require all new members to sign it before joining the church. We also reaffirm our commitment to the covenant at all members meetings and before taking communion, when we stand as a body and recommit ourselves to it,” under the “Why a Church Covenant” section (

    Compare this to Christ’s teaching about us not taking oaths. Also, what about visiting believers? Are they barred from taking communion, because they may not agree? What if they don’t fully agree with the creeds / statements of faith, or with the leadership or teachings? Then what?

    Also, is the covenant legally-binding? And what if someone signs it, and then later disagrees and wants to leave? Then what?

    4. Inconsistencies in the creeds / statements of faith the congregation claims to ascribe to.

    These appeared to be somewhat subtle, and varied with the documentation with each creed, vs. the church’s statement of faith.

    Frankly, I don’t see why so many creeds are necessary. Some of them were quite wordy. It also kinda came across to me as if the church / creed organizations were adding to the Scriptures.

    5. Biblical text inerrancy, which seems to refuse to acknowledge the cultural, historical and textual contexts in which the Scripture were written:

    ” truth without any mixture of error for its matter,” per the Statement of Faith (

    It is important to note the claim of inerrancy, in light of the varying manuscripts we have in existence today, because separating the texts of the Scriptures from their original contexts removes part of understanding of the Scriptures.

    As it pertains to interpretation, one thing that affects how we interpret some passages — for example — is that I am told that many surviving ancient manuscripts did not use punctuation — such as periods or quotation marks. This comes into play in particular, as it pertains to 1 Corinthians 14, because it affects how women are treated in the Church. From what I understand, this particular passage has even been written with the verses in different orders within the passage, depending on the manuscript examined. So, there is some variation in our manuscripts, and how we interpret things can sometimes play a considerable role in how we live out our faith.

    Also, regarding cultural, historical and textual / linguistic / grammatical context, in 1 Timothy 2, we learn in chapter 1 that Paul was urging Timothy to stay in Ephesus. In Acts 19 — which likely would have preceded this letter — there had been a riot in Ephesus. The Greek variant I have in my interlinear Bible mentions that among those who were upset about Paul’s teaching and contributed to the riot were the silversmiths of a female deity. I am told that the Greek “I do not permit a woman” — in 1 Timothy 2:12 — could also be translated “I am not permitting a woman”, which may have been a temporary restriction, in light of the earlier riot, recorded in Acts 19.

    My point in saying these things? Cultural, historical and textual context do very much matter! We may be more subject to error in interpretation of the Scriptures by divorcing the Scriptures from original context, than if we make a good-faith effort to read the Scriptures, in light of original context.

    6. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I never knew that “giving a holy disposition to the mind” was a requirement for salvation. I understand that when we accept Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit (see Romans 6-8), and that there is an aspect of repentance of our sins associated with our salvation (see, for example, John 3). But, I can’t recall anywhere reading that I had to “give a holy disposition to the mind” to be saved. As for transformation through the renewal of our minds, per Romans 12, I never knew that to be a requirement for salvation.

    7. I find most of their means of sanctification troubling: “the word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness and prayer”. Obviously, I don’t have a problem with renewing my mind in the Scriptures. I also think these other things to be good things. But, I thought that the Scriptures taught that Christ sanctified us — not us ourselves through rituals.

    So, bottom line, my initial impression just from the website would leave me worried about hierarchical leadership, idolatry of leaders, and legalism in this congregation.

    I’m sorry. I don’t mean to post this analysis. But, we do need healthy congregations — and to find them, we do need to work on discerning biblical truth from error.

    No, I don’t necessarily have it right. But, that’s what the body of believers is for.

    So, feel free to chime in. = )

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “5. Biblical text inerrancy, which seems to refuse to acknowledge the cultural, historical and textual contexts in which the Scripture were written:”

    Again, the Episcopalians, Methodists, United Presbyterian, Christian Church, basically ALL the mainline Protestant churches deny the inerrancy of Scripture.

    They’ll be glad to have your presence and your money, probably without any commitment on your part.

    Also, all these denominations allow women as elders or pastors. They also now allow men/women in active homosexual relationships to hold these offices.

    You can come and go as you please.Like the Episcopal Church, non of these denominations are thriving.


    • While they have their problems many conservative parts of evangelicalism have their problems as well. I am pretty conservative in many ways Senecca. How is Sovereign Grace doing these days? Financially how is it holding up? There are many conservative church planting movements that are in a world of hurt. Financially they are not doing as well, and when they do a plant all they do is cannibalize from other churches. They don’t break ground amongst non-Christians and seekers.


    • I think you’re missing my point, Seneca Griggs. The problem with the claim of inerrancy is an issue of our own human interpretation of the texts. The error does not really come from Scripture, but our own interpretation as imperfect humans.

      I do agree with you that Mainline Protestant churches have their share of challenges; but then, I don’t know any denomination that is perfect. Some need to repent of flesh tendencies, while others need to repent of legalism. As the Scriptures rightly recognize, both are destructive, and as believers, we are to repent of both tendencies.

      One final thing I’d note is that I found the tone of your reply to me to be unloving and disrespectful. If this is your idea of a Christ-like response to a fellow believer who disagrees with you, then I suppose it to be for the best that we attend different types of churches. I thank God that someday, He will help those of us who belong to Him to be reconciled. I look forward to that day. = )

      I apologize for not approaching you privately regarding these things, but I did not find any contact information for you. God bless. I wish you well.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Of COURSE they have their problems; but they’re not dying. Non conservatives want a church with no requirements, no commitments and no passion.

    VOILA – the mainline dehominations.

    They’re dying.


    • This is not entirely true, Seneca Griggs: some Progressive churches — which are sometimes Mainline Protestant fellowships — are very passionate about social justice and blessing and taking care of the poor and marginalized, all of which which is found in Scripture. Meanwhile, a number of socially-Conservative churches — not all, but a number of them — will at times overlook these portions of Scripture. These are areas where Progressive believers can in some cases challenge fellow believers from other parts of the body of Christ in a healthy, scriptural manner.

      So, non-Conservative churches have strengths, too, and are not necessarily “with no requirements, no commitments, and no passion”, as you claim. Frankly, some of the non-Conservative believers I’ve known have been quite passionate about Christ and many portions of the Scriptures, and I appreciate the way they and other believers from other Christian backgrounds — including Conservative / Fundamentalist / Evangelical, and other Christian traditions — have challenged me in healthy, scriptural ways in the faith.

      I think we can both agree that Conservative fellowships do have strengths. I just believe that all Christian fellowships have strengths and weaknesses, as we worship the Lord together in this fallen world.

      As for the Mainline Protestant churches “dying”: they may not be as popular these days, but there are some Mainline Protestant fellowships that are doing better than some Conservative ones. I have found that it just kinda depends. But, either way, I figure what matters is that we seek to follow Christ.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. After reading the first portion in the Statement of Faith page and the statement that this church is in agreement with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 I could never step foot in this church. Why? I’m a woman and ordained Deacon. This church would recoil if I dared to say that. For me, at least, association with the SBC which is no longer Baptist but fundamentalist, is a complete non-starter.

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