This is Tim Keller's most important book to date. For years he has been touring the world, describing the gospel DNA which has made Redeemer such a powerful force for good in New York and more recently globally through its City to City programme. This book draws all Keller's thinking on church and mission together in one place, teasing out missional lessons learnt which can be applied cross culturally.
As a result it is a hefty tome of nearly 400 pages. The book is split into three sections: gospel, looking at theology and what Keller calls gospel renewal, which is where the gospel takes effect in the lives of individuals, churches and communities; city, which considers contextualisation, the nature of cities, and how to engage with culture;lastly movement, which explores how to live missionally and build gospel movements across cities.
This is a rich and rewarding read. Keller writes with wisdom and grace. He not only presents his conclusions but maps out the thinking that brought him there. His style is vulnerable and nuanced, but he can be sharp and punchy where he wants to be. He is eminently quotable, as Twitter often shows!
Centre Church has challenged me to love Jesus, my church and the city we serve more and to do my own thinking about how to relate the gospel to those in our community. It made me think more broadly about engaging with culture, supporting believers in their workplaces, and the place of social justice in gospel ministry. This is a great resource for anyone hoping to build a church bigger than their building. Any pastor, leader, planter or thinking Christian would do well to study this.
Even when I am unsure about Tim Keller's reformed stance, I appreciate that his questions are well and courteously put and need an answer. A man to be honoured and cherished by the whole Christian community. This is terrific stuff and all of us who are trying to engage with the challenge of growing gospel church are in his debt.
This is a fantastic book to stretch your mind and vision about what it means to be and 'do' church in today's urban setting. Sweeping insights built on a vast range of sources and personal experience make it worth a good read - ideally as part of a group who then talk it all out. And then do it.
A joy for me was the grace that flows from someone with a theological position that usually sits on a high horse of judgement and separatism. If this is new-Calvinism we need more of it.
A surprise is that despite his passion for the Gospel Keller manages to 'loose' Jesus. Read him with care and it is almost as though Jesus had little of value to say but, rather, just kept himself busy until he got to the cross. That doesn't spoil a cracking book though.
It's been a long time since I have marked a book as much as this one. Buy. Read. Enjoy. Do!!
Keller manages to present what he has found in Scripture in a clear and balanced way linking to other authors across the ages to weave a vision of Gospel Ministry that has been used by God in his context.
He avoids being prescriptive, in that he isn't presenting a new way to do Church, and focuses on leading you through the Scriptural and Historical landscape as an expert Guide so that you can formulate your own vision of what God wants you to do in the place where he has placed you.
I'm still reading Center Church but so far so good. Timothy Keller considers some basic biblical principles and cultural context questions that help churches to articulate the essentials of a gospel based ministry that permeates through every part of church life and community. I'm going to be prayerfully and practically applying the wisdom within Center Church as I step into a new leadership role leading a large church in a small city.