Keller challenges me to do what I already knew I needed to do...but am afraid to do...
...take the church to the city.
I remember a message I heard years ago by Charles Lyons, Pastor of Armitage Baptist Church in Chicago. He was speaking to students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary not long after I graduated.
Lyons' point in the talk was: It's always been about the cities. Paul went from city to city. Why? Because that's where the Holy Spirit led him. But why? Because that's where culture begins and is shaped. The world is influenced by our cities. Therefore, if we want to shape, influence and create culture as the church, then we need to be in the cities.
What I liked about Keller's talk is that he gives us a basic How-to. (My notes) Basically, he says we must do 2 things to impact a city with the Gospel and the Kingdom of God:
1. Plant or renew contextual (read: Culturally sensitive) churches. (He lists several things this kind of church is and does in this talk)
2. Establishing city-wide gospel movements. He defines this as a gospel movement that is growing at a greater rate than the city population itself. And he makes it clear: it's going to take the church working together for this to happen. (He gives how this can work in the talk as well)
His talk is concise and chalked full of practical advise. He is a pastor who is living this out and leading his church in New York City to do the same. He's seeing results. He's credible and spot-on.
Lord, I pray you'll break me from my self-centered, build-my-own-tribe mentality. Exchange it for your selfless, build the Kingdom of God together mentality. Help me connect with others who are already doing this in my city. Help others to begin to align their hearts and lives in this direction as well. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.