I was in New York last weekend, and visited the Church of the Redeemer, where Tim Keller preaches. Redeemer owns no buildings, but meets in three or four different Manhattan locations each Sunday, with two services in the morning and three in the evening. Between them, they minister to four or five thousand Christians. Keller is one of a team of preachers who make the same points on the same passage each week, each in their own style. The location where Keller preaches is never announced in advance, although my student son was able to find out with a phone call to a friend the evening before.

Newsweek (or someone like that) recently described Keller as the new C. S. Lewis, but having recently read his latest book, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, I’d disagree with that. He quotes Lewis a lot, as well as some other good writers, but isn’t an apologist in the way Lewis was.  Keller is a preacher, not a writer, and one worth going out of one’s way to hear. He has a relaxed, engaging style, but is rigorously expository, determined to let no one leave until they have thought seriously about the passage he’s preaching on and applied it to their own Christian life. He preaches for 30–45 minutes, and holds the congregation’s attention the whole time. Which is not to say one’s mind doesn’t wander, but it wanders the way it should when God’s word is being expounded—it set me thinking about my own life and how I can be a more faithful follower of Christ, and I have continued to think about that in the days following the sermon.

If I were to describe Keller by comparing him to an earlier figure, Martyn Lloyd Jones is the one that comes to mind. He had the same ability to zero in on a single verse,  sometimes just a phrase in a verse, and press it home to the hearers in a way that held their attention and made a difference in their lives. Like Keller, Lloyd Jones had a large student ministry, John Stott and J. I. Packer being regular attenders.

I was too young to hear Lloyd Jones, although I’ve built up a good collection of his sermons on cassette over the years, and listened to them with profit. Keller’s sermons are online in many places, with this being the official site. But the next time you’re in New York, listen in person.

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