Friday, September 04, 2009

How Tim Keller Found Manhattan

Here's a great article on Tim Keller from Christianity Today. I've read a lot about Tim Keller and a lot from Tim Keller, but there were many new pieces to his story that I learned from reading this article. As a parent living in the city, it was good to read that he and his wife, Kathy, wrestled with moving their family of three boys from the suburbs to the city.

And terrifying to his wife, Kathy, who focused on their three boys, ages 5, 9, and 11, a.k.a. "the hellions." She couldn't imagine her unruly children surviving New York. "My mother said, 'All your kids will be in gangs by the end of the first week.'"

Kathy had a meeting with God in which she concluded that she would go and live in a cardboard box, if God told her to. The Kellers were finally ready to leave the suburbs and head for what they had thought of as hell.

But it wasn't hell. They had caught a vision for Manhattan as a place terribly underserved by the church, and a place with gigantic multipliers of influence throughout society. It was both needy and strategic.

Just as important, the Kellers discovered that they liked Manhattan. The kids thrived on the freedom of going anywhere by themselves via the subway. They were desperately proud of their dad and would tell checkout clerks about his new church. No longer was their rowdiness a problem. Kathy says they could never be the worst kids in their classes, "because the worst kids had jail time." They found a new group of heroes in the young adults who began attending Redeemer.

The other refreshing thing that came from reading this article was learning that the things that Keller knows now, he didn't know 20 years ago when he moved to Manhattan. There's no other pastor/teach/author I know that, after reading his work, I realize just how little I know. It's good to see that even Tim Keller is a work in progress!

One last quote from the article:

"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."

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