Many have come to Keller's church wanting to know how to do ministry so they can be as effective as Redeemer Church. Keller is quick to point out that one vision or method will not work for all churches. He has written this book to provide a means for those in ministry to form their own theological vision, that vision for what you are going to do with your doctrine in a particular time and place. He advocates a well conceived vision for how to bring the gospel to bear on your particular cultural setting and historic moment.
The first part of the book is about gospel theology. He helps us understand what the gospel is, its contextualization, and that it affects virtually everything.
The next part is about gospel renewal, both personal and church. He shows how the church can cooperate with the Holy Spirit in bringing about gospel renewal.
He then looks at gospel contextualization and how that can be done in a God honoring manner. His discussion of the Bible and culture is excellent. He presents three biblical foundations for doing careful contextualization.
The next part of the book is about the city. He reviews its history, its place in the Bible, and its relation to culture. He writes, “If Christians want to reach the unreached, we must go to the cities.” (162)
Part five is about cultural engagement. He takes us through the history of and then models for cultural engagement. He suggests a balance among several polarities.
Part six is about mission. The gospel moves into the community and people are equipped for missional living. He explains the marks of a missional church as well as how to equip people for engaging their community.
Part seven is about integrative ministry, connecting people to God (worship), to one another (community), to the needs of the city, and to culture.
Part eight is on movements and institutions. Churches with movement dynamics generate converts, ideas, leaders and resources from within. There will also be movement without, such as church planting.
Keller explains in his Epilogue that he has written this book particularly for churches in urban settings. However, he also notes that the book is intended just as much for churches and ministries who minister to those of the modern culture.
This is an excellent book for anyone doing ministry. There is a wealth of information contained in the book. You will be both inspired and humbled at the task before you.
Food for thought: Keller notes a sure sign of an idol. “If we lose a good thing, it makes us sad, but if we lose an idol, it devastates us.” (69)
Find out more about Timothy Keller at www.timothykeller.com.
Zondervan, 400 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.