Tim Keller on Denominational Renewal

Well,

It’s actually Tim Keller commenting on Greg Thompson’s talk from the 2008 PCA Denominational Renewal conference, and I think it is well worth the time linking and encouraging you all to read.

Click here for the full article.  Here’s a sampling:

As I read this terrific piece, however, it made me think about how we actually will have to do denominational renewal. The PCA is the great and tense place that it is because it is perhaps the only Presbyterian denomination that hasn’t purged or lost one or two of its historic wings. George Marsden says that Reformed churches have always had what he called ‘doctrinalist’, ‘pietist,’ and ‘cultural-transformationist’ wings. Weirdly, they all grow out of aspects of Reformed theology. Historically, they’ve produced some major splits–Old Side (doctrinalist) from New Side (pietist) in the 18th century, Old School (doctrinalist/pietist) from New School (reformist) in the 19th century. The OPC, though a doctrinalist church, grew and then shed a pietist wing (New Life Churches.) The CRC, though basically a cultural-transformationist denomination, had a doctrinalist split off (the URC.) In God’s providence, the PCA has significant numbers in all three wings.

Contemporary or Contextual – What would Keller do?

timkeller.jpgWell, Tim Keller’s new book is almost out – The Reason for God (Hey honey, if you’re thinking of any last minute Valentine’s gift ideas, this might be a good one.) – and low and behold there is quite a buzz swarming over the internet (here, here, here, here and here). Not only that, but Keller made it into a Newsweek piece. (I especially like the line about him being compared to your favorite “dim sum” place in Manhattan).

Here is a comment made by Ed Stetzer after visiting Redeemer Church in New York (Tim Keller’s church) regarding an interesting, and important thing to remember whenever we talk about “contextualization”:

“I was most impressed with how, well, non-“hip” the service was. (The giveaway was the note in the program reminding you to not applaud.)

The “band” was four men in suits who played wind instruments accompanied by an organ.

Yet, most of the crowd was young and engaged… a reminder that contemporary is not always contextual.”

The Reason for GodI think that statement is worth pondering some, don’t you guys? When did I, or we, ever begin to equate contextual with contemporary? I think that Stetzer nails it, and sees beyond the “transferable practices” of some successful church strategy’s, to the transferable principle of making the Gospel truth relevant and understandable for your context.

At the end of the Newsweek piece on Keller, the author makes another interesting comment. After picking up on some the anomalies that make Tim Keller a bit “odd” for the typical perceptions of pastors, she states that New York is a good place for someone as idiosyncratic as Keller, and she muses whether, “he—or his vision—will ever be at home anywhere else.”

I think that the writer of the article has expressed an important aspect of ministry and calling, but particularly for future and would-be church planters. When you consider whatever ministry it is that you think God is calling you to, ask yourself, “Would you or your vision be at home anywhere else?” A great question, and one to ponder before heading out into planting a church. If you don’t have a sense of what God can do and wants to do through His church under your charge for a specific city/town/area, then maybe you’re not really ready to minister.

Just something I’m thinking about. What are your thoughts?

“Men ought to have proven ministry gifts before attending seminary.”

This looks like an interesting questions (and ensuing discussion).  Check out the source here.  (Thanks to R. Scott Clark for the link).  Here are some eye-widening thoughts I found interesting and worth refelcting on:

“We all know, and some of us have experienced first hand, the problem of too many pastors for churches in the PCA.  Yet, there has been little to no talk about how to address the problem.  

 We must conclude one of 3 things:

a.)     God doesn’t know what he’s doing, because he’s called far more men than we need.b.)     The PCA is about to have a major revival, and explode in number of churches.c.)     We are judging far more men to be called than are actually called. I vote for c.”

 Also…

“The weight of presbytery’s approval should not be in favor of, “We’ll ordain you, unless you give us reason not to,”  but rather, “We need compelling reason.  Prove to us that you are called.”  That proof, of course, would come out of possessing Christian maturity, Biblical/theological acumen, pastoral heart, and, above all, the ABILITY TO PREACH.  Sorry to shout, but how many guys have we passed along who have little to no skill in this area in clear violation of the Biblical mandate.”  

I think I’ve already formulated my own thoughts on the matter, but want to wait and let any of you out there chime in:Are there way too many “called” men in the process of becoming pastors?  If so, what should we do about it? 

Scott Clark does it again

R. Scott ClarkI’m really enjoying the thoughts and posts of  R. Scott Clark lately.  I confess that I don’t know much about him (personally or academically), but some of his posts over at Heidelblog have been very helpful to me trying to navigate the theological talk regarding Federal Vision, but more so, helping to understand the differences and similarities between the Old and New Covenant.

His most recent post deals with the sing and the seal of covenant membership, and what really distinguishes the theology and praxis of Presbyterians, Baptists, and Federal Vision folk.

Read it here.

Francis Schaeffer Lecture Series – Emerging Church

Darrin PatrickHere is the content for the Covenant Seminary’s Francis Schaeffer Institute Lecture Series (that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?) on the Emerging Church. This was a series of talks given by Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of The Journey and V.President of the Acts 29 Network. Darrin is a guy who neither absolutely praises or bashes the Emerging Church movement. Instead, he gives a really good inside picture of it, while also standing somewhat outside of it and gives it a good critical assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. If you’re out there and you’re the least bit curious, or cautious, of anything that bears the label “emerging”, then listen to these lectures.

Audio Content (page – you can download the lectures individually)

Written Content (abridged notes from the talks)

CT Article on Gospel Coalition

The Gospel CoalitionColin Hansen has an article for CT about The Gospel Coalition.  Its a good excerpt, and worth reading to understand what I think is an exciting and important trend for the shaping of future ministry, particularly in the U.S.   Here are a couple of good quotes (from Keller, yes!), but do go read the rest of the article (click here).

“I want to see more churches and leaders joining hands across denominational and network lines to think out how to do effective mission based on the historic, classical understanding of the gospel as it has come down to us from the Reformation and through the Awakenings.”

“If we seek service rather than power, we may have significant cultural impact,” the statement says. “But if we seek power and social control, we will, ironically, be assimilated into the very idolatries of wealth, status, and power we seek to change.”-Tim Keller

More good thoughs on “missional” and denominations

There’s a great post over at ‘Conn’-versation regarding the shape of younger Christian leaders and the whole “missional” conversation. I appreciate the post because it has put words to my scattered thoughts, particularly in relation to missional conversations within reformed denominations. For anyone trying to live and move in both worlds, this can be more tricky, and require a bit more awareness and discernment with the things we say or do. Anyway, here’s a great quote to wet your appetite:

“The adjective Missional will likely have its day in the sun and end dried up in the field of other helpful, but not bygone categories, but the changing ecclesiology it sought to capture will remain until and if we experience the Southern Hemisphere shape of Christendom to come (spoken of by people like Philip Jenkins) expanding into the landscape of our Post-Christian West in a culturally transforming manner.”

Check out the whole post here.

(P.S. – I have yet to read Jenkins book, but have heard great things about it, and with this post, I will most likely end up reading real soon. Anyone have any thoughts on the book itself?)

Keller excerpt from The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World

The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern WorldThis is a quote from Tim Keller’s chapter in the upcoming book The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, from Crossway publishing. It’s being compiled from the sessions of this past Desiring God conference, and just this quote alone is enough to guarantee that I’m buying and reading it. Excellent topic, great thinkers and men who love Jesus and His world – what more could you ask for!

Here’s the quote, but know that over at the Desiring God blog, you can read a larger excerpt from Keller’s chapter: On Gospel Humiliation

“…unless something comes into your life that breaks you of your self-righteousness and pride, you may say you believe the gospel of grace but, as we said above, the penny hasn’t dropped. You aren’t a sign of the gospel yourself. You don’t have the Jonah principle working in you. You aren’t a strength-out-of-weakness person. God will have to bring you low if he is going to use you in evangelism.”

Waiving our claim – what should we be fighting over?

To anyone who read this blog at all…check out Reggie Kidd’s blog and read his post on Christian internal bickering as “self annhilation,” and how we probably could Frank Miller’s “300″learn alot more from the account of the Spartan stand at Thermopylae, then we may realize. How many times do you think we as church, or denomination, or larger body of Christians, make our fellow brothers and sisters dodge our own firey arrows, and all the while an onslaught of our Enemy’s attacks are heading directly at them?

I know, maybe I’m being too over dramatic, or romanticizing the way things should be – but I have seen too many good, and faithful people in the faith being hit by “friendly fire”, and then get kicked when they’re down. Anyway, here’s a snippet from his post, which is Kidd quoting from Herodotus:

The Athenians waived their claim in the interest of national survival, knowing that a quarrel about the command would certainly mean the destruction of Greece. They were, indeed, perfectly right; for the evil of internal strife is worse than united war in the same proportion as war itself is worse than peace. It was their realization of the danger attendant upon lack of unity which made them waive their claim, and they continued to do so as long as Greece desperately needed their help. (Herodotus, Histories 8.2)