I have finally finished Timothy Keller’s great book Center Church. In the book, Keller puts years of ministry insights, observations and theories into a form that is available and accessible to pastors, minister and church leaders. Much of Keller’s ministry experience comes as a pastor in cities that are some of the least “Christianized” in the United States.
Currently, Keller is founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in the heart of New York City. You can find out more about Redeemer on their website.
A few weeks ago I highlighted the top ten quotes of the book (so far), and in this post I would like to highlight the top ten quotes from the rest of the book.
On the Church Engaging Culture
1. “Even if 80 percent of the population of a country are Christian believers, they will have almost no cultural influence if the Christians do not live in cultural centers and work in culture-forging fields such as academia, publishing, media, entertainment, and the arts. The assumption that society will improve simply by more Christian believers being present is no longer valid.” (185)
2. “A proper understanding of the gospel, of the cross and of Christian ethics would make it impossible for Christians to use power to oppress. But it is not at all impossible to lose sight of these realities and to use power coercively in Christ’s name.” (201)
On the Missional Church
3. “The Trinity is, by nature, “sending.” The Father sends the Son into the world to save it, and the Father and the Son send the Spirit into the world. And now, said Bosch, the Spirit is sending the church. In short, God does not merely send the church in mission. God already is in mission, and the church must join him. This also means, then, that the church does not simply have a missions department; it should wholly exist to be a mission.” (251)
4. “To reach this growing post-Christian society in the West will obviously take more than what we ordinarily call in evangelical church; it will take a missional church.” (265)
5. “This church’s worship is missional in that makes sense to nonbelievers in that culture…Its people are missional in that they are so outwardly focuses…that the church is well-known of its compassion.” (265)
On Missional Living
6. “It means teaching people that the gospel gives you humility. As people come to understand the radical gospel analysis- that both “good” and “bad” people are equally lost and can only be saved by grace- it becomes impossible to be proud and condescending toward others without denying the gospel itself.” (287)
On Connecting People to God in Worship Services
7. “My thesis is that the weekly worship service can be very effective in evangelism of non-Christians and in edification of Christians if it does not aim at either alone but is gospel centered and in the vernacular.” (302)
8. “God wants to world to overhear us worshipping him. God directs his people not simply to worship but to sing his praises “before the nations.” We are called not simply to communicate the gospel to nonbelievers; we must also intentionally celebrate the gospel before them.” (303)
On Opening Worship Services to Nonbelievers
9. “Typically, coming into worship will only happen through personal invitations from Christians…The main stimuli for these invitations are the comprehensibility and quality of the worship experience.” (304)
10. “If we worship as if they are there, eventually they will be.” (304)
Bonus Quote: “Christianity is more than simply a set of beliefs I hold so I can achieve salvation for my individual soul. It is also a distinct way of understanding and interpreting everything in the world. It brings a distinct perspective on human nature, right and wrong, justice, beauty, purpose, scientific discovery, technology and work.” (331)
There are many other great quotes, great ideas and great lessons to be learned from a deep and honest interaction with Keller’s work. I hope that these two posts have given you a glimpse into what awaits if you decide to dive into Center Church.
Find more information on Center Church on the publisher’s website.
Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City. Timothy Keller. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 2012.
© Ryan Vanderland 2013