UPDATE January 1, 2020: Since the announcement of the shutdown of Redemption Group Network, Redeemer Church in Springfield, Missouri have agreed to assume the Redemption Groups™ trademark. If you are interested in the future of Redemption Groups, sign up for updates on their mailing list.
Regarding how the shutdown of Redemption Group Network may or may not impact existing or future local church Redemption Groups ministries, from founder Mike Wilkerson:
First, I want to try and clarify what Redemption Groups is and isn’t, and what Redemption Group Network will no longer be around to provide. That might shed light on the impact in your particular situation.
Redemption Groups has always been focused on equipping people in local churches to provide local church ministry. It’s the local church who really owns its own ministry to people. Redemption Group Network has existed to help local churches develop and run their own ministries, and to connect their local leadership with other churches in the network to help one another.
Redemption Groups™ (the trademarked name) has just been a label that we’ve associated with a set of values, training and quality standards.
It has always been the case, and will remain the case, that a local church can do whatever ministry it likes, even using written resources like the Redemption book, and call that whatever it likes, as long as it doesn’t represent that ministry publicly as Redemption Groups™ without being granted a license to do so.
Being granted a license has been a way of acknowledging a commitment to those shared values, training and quality standards, so that as we work together across the network and offer this ministry to the public, there can be some consistency.
So one option you have—which some churches have done all along—is to call your ministry by some other name. Make it your own, whatever you like.
So what’s been the value in using the Redemption Groups™ name at all? Each church may have its own answer to that question. One way to think about it is that it has represented a lot of lessons learned, values accrued, and trainers with a shared set of experiences, making themselves available to support training efforts across a network of churches that retain a level of consistency in the experiences facilitated. I’ve hoped that churches would value being part of that networked learning process: learning with and from one another, and training up local church group leaders and supervisors who can go on to pay it forward by helping to equip other churches. So the name Redemption Groups™ has served as a summary label of what we’re doing here.
It’s a common law trademark, which means that it exists because it’s been declared to exist, and has been actively used and managed as a trademark, including attention to quality standards and documented licensing agreements.
I do not want to continue managing this trademark, since I will no longer be part of the training, consulting, and administration that may go along with that. I’m open to a new arrangement where someone else takes on that responsibility. In the past couple of years, we have explored such possibilities, with no clear option emerging.
I remain open to the possibility of someone else carrying it forward. If you’re interested, contact me. In the meantime, and maybe never, no new trademark licenses will be granted.
Likewise, unless or until there is a legal status change with that trademark, there will be no authorized Redemption Groups™ training services or events. Any that are offered by that name outside of a local church offering ministry to its own constituency will be unauthorized. I mention that to remind you to do your own work of discerning whether any unauthorized training opportunities you may come across will serve your purposes according to your values.
Over time, inactivity with the trademark means it will have less and less legitimacy—that’s simply the natural legal consequence. So if it’s retaining some particular meaning beyond your local church is important to your church ministry, that might be a reason for you to consider how to carry it forward.