How Tim Keller Found Manhattan
Keller reckons they should be planting churches not just in nyc but in "center cities" worldwide as well. This vision came into sharp focus when church leaders from Amsterdam approached Keller. They had investigated other North American church-planting centers, but felt that they didn't fit culturally (too suburban). Since that initial meeting, Redeemer has helped Amsterdam pastors plant 18 churches, and is helping new churches in cities around the world.
Keller realized that Manhattan may have more in common with Amsterdam and London than it does with small towns in eastern Pennsylvania. It may even have more in common with Mumbai. Gyger, who now heads Redeemer's Church Planting Center, says, "You go to Soho or London or Berlin or Madrid or Sao Paolo, and you'll find a new kind of international culture of young elites and professionals. We go to these city centers and try to reach these kinds of people."
Good and Great
Redeemer no longer runs on volunteers and adrenaline. A large staff handles ministry administration, with considerable long-range planning. A 10-year succession plan includes projected ownership of two Manhattan buildings (one already purchased and scheduled for renovation) and eight or nine congregations, each with its own pastor and rotating preaching from Keller. The mission field has shifted outward to new church plants throughout New York and the world. Yet Keller still spends time modestly sharing his gospel DNA with small groups of pastors. Again, it's not flashy or daring. But it is pure Keller.
"The difference between a solid church and a terrible church is pretty much up to you," he tells one group. "The difference between a solid church and incredible success has almost nothing to do with you at all. It's like you are out there paddling on your surfboard, and suddenly the wave comes and you ride in, standing up like you're a Greek god. That has everything to do with the wave."
Tim Stafford is a ct senior writer. Download a companion Bible study for this article at ChristianBibleStudies.com.
Copyright © 2009 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Previous Christianity Today articles on or by Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian include:
Tim Keller Reasons with America | The New York pastor explains why he's taking his ministry model on the road. (June 20, 2008)
The Advent of Humility | Jesus is the reason to stop concentrating on ourselves. (December 22, 2008)
A New Kind of Urban Christian | As the city goes, so goes the culture. (May 1, 2006)
New York's New Hope | From inner-city gardens, to fine-art exhibitions, to political activism, street-smart churches are changing the culture of America's largest and most dynamic city. (December 1, 2004)
Manhattan Ministry a Year Later | "As of September 2002, weddings, counseling, and courage in demand" (November 18, 2002