In an era when many thoughtful Christians struggle to adapt their message to a post-Christian world, without selling their doctrinal birthright for the sake of cultural relevance, Timothy Keller has steadfastly maintained that the gospel can bloom in the unlikeliest of places. In Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Zondervan), Keller, pastor of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, draws on decades of pastoral experience and cultural reflection to outline a theological vision for engaging modern urban societies. Chris Castaldo, director of the Ministry for Gospel Renewal at Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center, recently spoke with Pastor Keller about how the church can plant seeds of genuine gospel transformation in even the hardest of soil.
Why did you write Center Church?
The book is an accumulation of the kind of material that I’ve been teaching since the mid-1980s, when I was on faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary. As the years unfolded, I began to realize that in between our doctrinal confession and church programming is a “middle space.” It is here, in this space, where we reflect upon the relationship of theology and culture to comprehend how they mutually impact ministry. In Center Church, I call this integrated reflection “theological vision.” Simply put, it refers to a faithful restatement of the gospel with rich implications for life, ministry, and mission in a specific culture and historical moment.
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