jtrhart

Posts Tagged ‘the church’

Visiting Redeemer Presbyterian (Where Tim Keller Preaches)

In Uncategorized on January 7, 2008 at 9:17 am

I had to do some travel for work in NYC and figured since I had to be there Monday morning that I could drive up on Sunday and hear Tim Keller preach. I enjoy listening to Dr. Keller whenever I can, his sermons are more “practical” and topical than expository but he has a way of relating Scripture to everyday living that is (almost) universally relevant. He is very down to earth in his speaking and does a great job of explaining the human condition (sin) in a way that most people understand and relate to.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church was started back in 1989 after Dr. Keller moved to New York City to plant a church in the way Paul did; move to the biggest city in the area and start churches then let those churches spread to the areas surrounding the cities. One of Keller’s best-known quotes (it may not be his, but he sure uses it enough) is “as the city goes, so goes the culture”. And the idea is that the cities are the cultural/academic/artistic/etc. trend-setting sources for the entire world; if you can reform the people in the cities you will, in essence, be reforming the whole world.

So, after making the trek from Northern Virginia (which included my hourly rate in tolls and possibly getting two traffic tickets) I arrived at one of the three facilities that Redeemer meets in. Every weekend they hold five services in three different locations with Dr. Keller preaching at four of the five and a combined attendance of around 5,000 people.

The evening service that I attended incorporated jazz music during their corporate worship times, which was phenomenal; I enjoyed singing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” at three times the regular speed with a sax solo in the middle. The service itself is, well, Presbyterian. Which surprised me. I wasn’t expecting the liturgy, even if it was very minimal, found in a typical Presbyterian service (corporate reading/response of God’s Word, reading corporate prayers, reading the Apostles’ Creed, healing prayer/anointing with oil). I guess I just assumed that since this was a church in “the city” that they would not have these types of traditions. After singing, there were announcements and an offering was collected and then Tim Keller preached on the book of Job.

So, I can hear Tim Keller teach online by downloading his sermons, the reason I went to Redeemer was to see what this ministry looks like. How is the ministry team at Redeemer reaching out to the people of NYC and accomplishing what Dr. Keller’s goal is?

It’s a great approach. Tim Keller’s role is mainly as a teaching pastor. There are a lot of elders and deaconesses who are very active in the ministry. Obviously in a Sunday service this large, people cannot connect before/after the service so it’s the small groups and classes/events that bring the people closer. And this list is extremely extensive. This seems to be the way Redeemer has chosen to carry out its ministry. There is a meeting or small group or class for just about every profession and hobby you can find in the city. Business, the arts, advertising, lawyers, health care, entrepreneurs, actors, techies, financial, etc. are all represented. There are also classes on anger, finances, conflict,beauty & women’s issues, missions, bible studies, leadership training, church planting, etc. There are support/recovery groups, wide ranges of ways to serve and get involved, pastoral/elder care, short term missions projects, and the list goes on. This is a very large ministry and is well organized.

I wasn’t able to attend any of these groups, but if the leaders carry out their ministries in the way that Dr. Keller preaches, bringing the gospel to hurting people in a way that they can relate to, I would imagine they are very effective at accomplishing their mission statement, “To build a great city for all people – through a gospel movement that brings personal conversion community formation, social justice and cultural renewal to New York, and through it, to the world.”

I know it sounds like I’m reviewing a ministry like one would a book or movie and that is not my intent. I wanted to share what I learned about an effective ministry that is somewhat different than the types a guy from the ‘burbs is used to. I’m going to attend a service again with my wife on the way home next week so check back for more.

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The Staines Family

In Uncategorized on January 1, 2008 at 10:10 am

I suspect many of you have heard this story before, having taken place only 8 years ago in India, but I hadn’t. What a powerful story, praise God for those whom he raises up to do his sacrificial work! Read it here.