If you’re humbled and recognize that God is the ultimate Minister to humanity, and we are simply His tools for His redemptive work, you’ll love this read. It’s a refreshing look at how God takes broken humanity and shapes His Bride, wins her and loves her, changes her from self-orientation to Christ-delighted and Christ-oriented. I hope I don’t speak here in too dreamy terms, but I truly feel this way about God’s work of loving His people. It’s like a truly focused and loving husband who will not stop his pursuit of his wife, will not stop encouraging and loving her with all that he is, laboring in love to care for her, watch out for her best interest, and create beauty in their union. However, Christ is the perfect Groom, constantly attending to our needs as His Bride. He watches out over us and leads us to feast with Him, to celebrate our union with Him.
Keller does an excellent job of looking at both heart and form when it comes to the local church, especially those in the U.S., but also churches internationally. He narrows in on saying that it’s not so much about church form (big church, medium size, small, home church). He focuses on what God is doing and highlights a healthy look at “missional church” and how any church could consider how to develop a more authentic/genuine ministry model that places a high priority on heart and is less anxious about form, while not neglecting our priorities as followers of Christ: Love God, love neighbor, make disciples of Jesus Christ. He is more comfortable with various forms of the local church an many authors I’ve read. He’s less quick to criticize the various church forms and quicker to prioritize that local churches band together under Christ in unofficial networks regionally and seek to learn together of living out the Great Commission in each neighborhood, in each “city”. He points out that “city” in biblical times could be the size of my little town of Twain Harte (2,500) or our neighboring town of Tuolumne City (1,800). These are actually cities. My entire county, Tuolumne County, is only 54,000, and I think it’s entertaining that the town where I have my business is 80,000. The county where I live certainly has a “spread out” population, yet there are “cities” scattered throughout. Keller is often highlighted as a strong leader for anyone seeking to do church planting in cities. I’d argue that his careful evaluation of today’s local churches even internationally is worth a read no matter your ministry demographics.
Enjoy and share your thoughts on this read when you can.
Grateful for authors like Keller, but I’m just as grateful for all of my dear friends here in Tuolumne County who are seeking to live a full like in Christ in response to His death for our sin, caught up in love for Him, our Savior and Delight.