Redemption Church in Owatonna, Minnesota, celebrated its third birthday Sunday, Sept. 12, with baptisms, cake and popcorn.
“We threw a party,” says senior pastor Christian Kohs, who, with his wife, Erica, planted Redemption on Sept. 9, 2018. After initially meeting in a building rented from a Seventh-day Adventist Church, Redemption moved into a 3,200 square-foot building in a strip mall on Nov. 10, 2019.
What started as a Bible study in the Kohs’ home has experienced growth to the point where the congregation is again seeking a new building. Redemption has baptized 54 people in three years.
“God’s been super gracious in growing our church,” Kohs says. “The Lord in his mercy has taken us from six in my basement to pushing 100 on a Sunday.”
The congregation represents a diverse gathering, Kohs says. While giving is a challenge for the young church, Kohs has seen God’s provision.
“God has continued to provide month after month after month,” he says. “It’s fun to look back even over the last three years and go, ‘This is pretty awesome. This is what the kingdom of God’s going to look like: old, young, Black, white, Hispanic, you name it, they’re all here.”
Redemption Church ministers to community
Redemption is involved in a number of ministries. Leaders have started a recovery group and host monthly prayer nights.
The worship team recently recorded its first worship album, which is a tool for outreach not unlike an invitation card. Redemption worship leader Kali Keller and her husband, Steven, who plays drums, recorded the album in their home studio. The album contains six original worship songs and can be found on the Redemption Church Owatonna YouTube channel.
Redemption gave away copies of the album at the Steele County Free Fair, Minnesota’s largest county fair, where Kohs preached. In the weeks since, Redemption has attracted visitors as a result of the fair.
Anticipating future growth
Kohs says he hopes to see Redemption continue to grow via church plants or new campuses. Kohs says the coronavirus pandemic taught him to slow down a bit, acknowledging that his initial big picture vision of planting 10 campuses in 10 years may have been optimistic. Kohs is re-thinking a shift in strategy and creating a longer runway for launching new churches.
The shift in strategy comes as a result of pursuing a campus in nearby Wells. Through this effort, Kohs learned that the campus model may not be right for a southern Minnesota traditional context where people want their pastor in front of them on Sunday morning and available to meet for coffee throughout the week.
Although Redemption is no longer pursuing a campus in Wells, a Bible study continues there, which has resulted in one man meeting Jesus.
Moving forward, Kohs is shifting toward a church plant approach.
“We have a great passion for southern Minnesota and the Midwest in particular, (and) nothing’s going to stop us from doing what God has called us to do,” Kohs says. “We’re not slowing down. We’re just recalibrating and re-thinking our strategy.”
In terms of outreach, Redemption hopes to host a “party for Jesus” in downtown Owatonna in summer 2022 with food trucks and bounce houses.
“We’re just going to love the city,” Kohs says. “Don’t stop loving your cities, churches. People need some hope and some joy and some peace and some love, and we’re the only one that can bring it to them.”
As a result of growth, the Redemption congregation is looking to secure a new building when the lease on their current location expires in 2022.
“Good things are happening here,” Kohs says. “God’s using this baby church plant to really change and transform our city. I’m expectant of what’s next.”
Janae Rempel is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Rempel is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Rempel graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She attends Hillsboro MB Church.