About the Book:
Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City
Today many pastors are struggling to adapt to a post-Christian culture without abandoning orthodox theology. How do we communicate the classic doctrines of grace and substitutionary atonement in our globalized culture and context?
In Center Church, Timothy Keller offers challenging insights and provocative questions based on over twenty years of ministry in New York City. This book outlines a theological vision for ministry—based on classic doctrines but rethinking our assumptions about church for our time and place—organized around three core commitments:
Gospel-centered: The gospel of grace in Jesus Christ changes everything, from our hearts to our community to the world. It completely reshapes the content, tone and strategy of all that we do.
City-centered: Cities increasingly influence our global culture and affect the way we do ministry. With a positive approach toward our culture, we learn to affirm that cities are wonderful, strategic and underserved places for gospel ministry.
Movement-centered: Instead of building our own tribe, we seek the prosperity and peace of our community as we are led by the Holy Spirit.
My Thoughts on Center Church:
I am a big fan of Tim Keller. I love his incredibly scholarly and biblical work. He writes from a very academic perspective and yet does so in a way that people who are not all that well-read can digest with a little bit of chewing. Center Church is by far Kellers most academic work. The book is essentially a textbook on doing Gospel Centered, Urban, and Biblical Ministry. Kellers approach isn't to present a "model" to be emulated, but to note trends and movements within the Church that can be embraced and funneled to create dynamic communities of Christ followers that are filled by the Spirit and moved by the Gospel.
I must be honest- I haven't read every word of this book because it is a thick book. But I have skimmed through majority of it and while I don't think there is anything surprising or revolutionary, all of it is incredibly helpful for anyone who is involved in any type of church ministry. Kellers thoughts on contextulization alone are worth the cost of the book. Keller says, "The animating idea behind the Relevance model is that God's Spirit is at work in the culture to further his kingdom, therefore Christians should view culture as their ally and join with God to do good". (pg 202) Keller nails on the head how to be a missional community centered on the Gospel. As one who aspires to plant a Church, I find Kellers thoughts essential and inspiring. Kellers church, Redeemer Presbyterian NYC, has grown and impacted thousands upon thousands and in this book we get a little glimpse of the ideas that have helped his church move forward in the power of God to reach New York City.
I could write pages upon pages about how helpful this book is sure to be to all Pastors everywhere. But instead, you must simply buy this book. Really. You need to. Small church or big, reformed or not, the insights contained in this book will better you as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I give Center Church by Timothy Keller a five out of five stars.
Center Church will be released by Zondervan on September 4, 2012.