Highlights from Introduction of the book “Center Church” Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in the City by Timothy Keller
The modern theological vision must seek to bring the entire counsel of God into the world of its time in order that its time might be transformed. – Richard Lints
Questions for the development of a theological vision:
1. What is the gospel, and how do we bring it to bear on the hearts of people today?
2. What is this culture like, and how can we both connect to it and challenge it in our communication?
3. Where are we located – city, suburb, town, rural area – and how does this affect our ministry?
4. To what degree and how should Christians be involved in civic life and cultural production?
5. How do the various ministries in a church – word and deed, community and instruction – relate to one another?
6. How innovative will our church be and how traditional?
7. How will our church relate to other churches in our city and region?
8. How will we make our case to the culture about the truth of Christianity?
The Formation of Theological Vision
1. WHAT TO BELIEVE – Doctrinal Foundation
Timeless truths from the Bible about God, our relationship to Him, and His purposes in the world.
- Theological tradition
- Denominational affiliation
- Systematic and biblical theology
2. HOW TO SEE – Theological Vision
A faithful restatement of the gospel with rich implications for life, ministry, and mission in a type of culture at a moment in history.
- Vision and values
- Ministry “DNA”
- Emphases, stances
- Philosophy of ministry
3. WHAT TO DO – Ministry Expression
How the gospel is expressed in a particular church in one community at a point in time
- Local cultural adaptation
- Worship style & programming
- Discipleship & outreach processes
- Church governance & management
1. The gospel is at its center.
2. The center is the place of balance.
3. This theological vision is shaped by and for urban and cultural centers.
4. The theological vision is at the center of ministry.
Center Church Commitments
Gospel, City, Movement
1. The Gospel Axis – Gospel at the center between legalism (religion) and relativism (irreligion)
2. The City Axis – City at the center between underadapted (only challenge) and overadapted (only appreciate)
3. The Movement Axis – Movement at the center between structured organization (tradition and authority) and fluid organism (cooperation and unity)
Next week: Gospel Theology