Christ and the city – Tim Keller. Gospel Coalition conference 2011

How do you bring together in a symbiotic relationship, those who are reaching the city?

1. Why Do we need to reach cities?
A. The Bible values the city. As you read scripture, cities become more important. Paul’s missionary strategy. Cities are human nature writ large.
B. How human life is largely lived in this world. 100 top cities produce 30% of production and almost a hundred percent of innovation.
C. Cities attract the young and the poor, all of whom we are to reach. Unreached people groups come there where in their homeland they would not welcome you.
D. Cities are growing so fast. Close to fifty percent now of people live in cities where a number of years ago it was only five percent.

II. What we need to know to reach cities?
A. Biblical theology of the city. Harvey Conn has written on it. Keller’s next book will address it.
B. Why and how cities change fast. Edward Glazer’s book – the triumph of the city – not a Christian book but a great study on how a city reinvents its self. In 1950’s, suburbia started to get large. Now we have some reverse commuters. The best jobs and life are not separated going forward. Cities change because the most ambitious and risk taking people are there, those with vision, living in proximity with others like them. Cities are not going away. C. What are the kinds of churches that are effective in the city?
They have to fit the environment. Different not in the confessions and the basics but they are distinct. Keller’s top 6 ways to fit well:
1. Aware of cultural differences: what is the way to schedule time, handle grief, arrive at group concensous, etc. Within that area or culture. White people often dont see that they too have a culture. Humbly point out the observed differences in cultures and recognize it.
2. Awareness of neighborhood and justice. Not just a city theme park with restaurants and comedy clubs, etc. Lots of problems with real people and real neighbors in real neighborhoods.
3. Help people integrate their faith into their work. Not average commuters. People live in their jobs often and must see the gospel in all of life
4. Evangelism is dynamic. You have to own the complexities. Own how the gospel differently hits Muslims vs Jews. Not one approach works into all cultures the same. 5. Culture. Dont ignore differences. Work to understand them. 6. More sensitive to artists and artistry

III. How we reach cities: the ecosystem, mutually Relying on one another
To reach a city you need more than just one church or group, you need a movement.

A movement consists of three concentric circles:
1. Gospel and doctine are the same even though different denominations.
2. Several church planting movements that represent different denominations. One church for every five hundred residents, the number in the body of Christ is about forty percent. It is only one percent if it is one church for every ten thousand people. Not all people want to be Presbyterian, for instance. We all have something wrong and can’t always see it and God seems to bless those who work around the gospel. Parachurch is good but churches are to do the main sending and giving, etc.
3. Parachurch is leaned on for real help. Prayer movement. Specialist evangelist – i.e. ministries for Hindus, or age based, youth and campus ministries, etc. Leadership pipeline for the city from these youth parachurch. The aim is to do justice and mercy to such a degree that the city would have to raise taxes if they ever were to leave. Faith and work initiatives like vocational groups and how to think biblically in your field.

Must be leaders that have a compassion for each other and not have turf wars.

Gospel tipping point: When it gathers momentum, it takes off on its own more like spontaneous combustion. No bishop or head people or person needed.

City tipping point: how many churches do you need to tip the city for change, humanly speaking? When you have fifteen percent or so Christian where enough people know Christians and they really respect them because they are real and authentic and full of the humbling impact of the gospel.

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