Guest / Limited Access /

When Tim Keller came to Manhattan in 1989, New York City had a well-deserved reputation as a snarling, scary place. Violent crime, drug dealing, and other urban pathologies had weakened or chased off many of the faithful. While a barely perceptible renewal was under way, it seemed as if the few remaining orthodox Protestants were huddled together in historic buildings. All of Keller's formal pastoral experience had happened in a small, blue-collar town in Virginia.

Yet today, almost 20 years later, he steps onstage before a packed auditorium at Hunter College on Manhattan's Upper East Side. His church, Redeemer Presbyterian, has five crowded Sunday services in three rented locations—Keller dashes between them—with an average total attendance of 5,000. The service at Hunter is the largest, the "tourist service." (For many years, Redeemer deliberately avoided publicity, but word has spread lately, and Keller estimates that hundreds of out-of-towners show up each Sunday.) Well over 2,000 people—mainly young whites and Asians you would expect to be sleeping off a late Saturday night—have come to this morning's service.

Redeemer's worship is seemly and traditional. Instead of using video monitors, casually dressed worshipers follow a 20-page bulletin that includes hymns, prayers, and Bible texts. Organ and a brass quartet lead the music. For evening services, jazz musicians play contemporary Christian songs.

Standing 6'4", with a bald head, glasses, and a coat and tie, Keller, 58, does not look hip. Nor is his sermon funny, charming, or daring. He preaches from the first chapter of Genesis, on the doctrine of Creation.

Keller speaks like a college professor, absorbed in his content, of which there is a lot. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Recommended3 Important Church Trends in the Next 10 Years
3 Important Church Trends in the Next 10 Years
Christianity in the United States may look very different in 10 years.
TrendingWhat to Expect After the Supreme Court’s Marriage Decision
What to Expect After the Supreme Court’s Marriage Decision
We will see more challenges to the florists, the bakers, and the pizza crust makers. And more opportunities for witness.
Editor's PickNepal Christians Return to Worship after Earthquake Turns Churches into Tombs
Nepal Christians Return to Worship after Earthquake Turns Churches into Tombs
Evangelicals bear brunt of Christian deaths.
Comments
Christianity Today
How Tim Keller Found Manhattan
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.