Tim Keller & Gabe Lyons on Post-Christian America

Gabe Lyons and Tim Keller had a very interesting webcast last week. The topic: Living in a “post-Christian” world. Here are some quotes captured by The Christian Post:

Tim Keller:
“My understanding of how you reach a culture is Christians have to be extremely like the people around them, and yet at the same time extremely unlike them… If Christians are not unlike they won’t challenge the culture, but if they’re not like, they won’t persuade the culture. Now, hitting that middle ground is hard.”

“Before the coming of Christ believers were culturally different…Christ comes, and now you can be a Christian in every tongue, tribe, people, and nation. Jesus gets rid of the ceremonial laws and all those things that made Christians culturally strange. In that sense, [now] your neighbor is like you.”

“There’s got to be a balance. On the one hand … traditional Christian marketplace ministries have put all the emphasis on spiritual support, and that’s fine and very important…But rather than just simply evangelizing, recycling and nurturing people inside their vocation, they ought to be asking ‘how does the gospel affect the way in which I do my work, how does it shape my work?’”

Gabe Lyons:
“The difference between a pre-Christian setting is a lot different than a post-Christian world. We’re dealing with a lot of baggage here in America… People don’t feel like they have a lot of needs – they don’t feel ‘down and out.’ [So] instead of only focusing on the ‘down and out,’ which can be easy for a lot of churches, how do you start focusing on the ‘up and in’ – those who have money, who live in the kinds of homes they’ve always dreamed of living in… I think this is a new place we have to discover what it looks like to pioneer the gospel going forward in this moment and it’s not going to look necessarily like it did pre-Christian years.”

“In an industrial city, work matters so much to so many people. But they are many times doing it without a purpose – they’re doing it to make money to keep up. What I think is unique about the Christian calling is understanding that the kind of work and vocations and occupations we take on really do relate to sense some purpose and mission.”

“Being a Christian is not only making a decision to follow Jesus but it’s how we live our life today” like “people who are called instead of just looking at” a job as just a job.”

via America’s Got Baggage? Approaching A Post-Christian World with Tim Keller, Gabe Lyons, Christian News, The Christian Post.

What do you think?

I find Tim Keller’s thoughts about the balance being very important to be vitally true.  And it’s a balance that’s hard to find in our ever-changing culture (to be sure)…

I also thought Gabe’s thought on the church needing to reach the ‘up and in’ crowd to be interesting.  Many of our society are in the ‘up and in’ crowd.  But many times the church takes the ‘low-hanging’ fruit of the ‘down and out’.  NOTE:  BOTH groups are important, but it’s much easier to respond to someone in crisis than someone who’s still climbing the ladder.

What are your thoughts?



  • Kevin Copeland February 21, 2011 Reply

    Very interesting indeed. I really appreciate the views shared here, because it is the total opposite of what I am experiencing where I live. Where I am every church in the area caters to the ‘up and in’ crowd while not only ignoring, but in some cases actively rejecting, the ‘down and out’. Mainly because, in most cases, the ‘up and in’ do not like to associate with the ‘down and out’. So naturally it hinders their mission to reach the ‘up and in’. The ‘down and out’ tend to drain the resources of the church anyway. Whereas the ‘up and in’ are better able to fund church growth. A buddy and I have literally started a homeless church in our area where churches can send the homeless, because before they would just deny them entry without having anywhere to send them. The churches in the area partially fund this endeavor, because they would rather pay for them to have their own church, than offend the ‘up and in’ crowd with the way they look or smell.

    • J. February 21, 2011 Reply

      Wow Kevin,

      I have never heard of that… That reminds me of the church in the show Carnivale. They did the same thing…

      That’s wildly unfortunate but God has a habit of trading ashes for beauty…and that is BEYOND good.

    • John R. March 8, 2011 Reply

      So….they would probably deny entrance even to Paul!

      You said, “A buddy and I have literally started a homeless church in our area where churches can send the homeless…” Really? Your actions are further justifying those of the elitist church and gives the homeless church the appearance of a leper’s village.

      I have to ask myself, “What would Jesus do?” and I’ve got to tell you, separating the homeless from those with homes never enters the picture in my mind. Jesus says we will always have the poor among us, and we are to care for them (not seclude them), and caring for them and meeting their needs equates to doing the same for Jesus. Would we exclude Jesus from our churches? Sadly, many have.

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  • susie richardson March 11, 2011 Reply

    One “equalizer” is a Celebrate Recovery program. Rich and poor alike struggle with hurts, habits, and hang-ups. There is common ground there. I’ve heard CR referred to as a “side door” into the church, a great thing for those who are intimidated, turned-off, etc. to enter through the front door . . .

  • Joan Ball March 11, 2011 Reply

    I think many Christians do not understand the mindset of the content, successful and benevolent atheist/agnostic and, as a result, they are lost when it comes to reaching them. There is a sense that unbelievers might have success, but deep down the have that “God shaped hole in their heart” that is so frequently taught about in Sunday school. I was one of those “up and in” non believers when I came to faith for the first time at age 37. I was happy without Jesus, I gave to charity and volunteered in the community without Jesus. I did not feel lost or purposeless without Jesus. Life was good without Jesus. I didn’t believe in heaven or hell, so the promise of eternal life meant nothing to me. I knew I did things wrong, but sin or judgement meant nothing because I was content with my perception that I would live and than die and that would be the end of it.

    So what is different in my life since I came to faith? This has been a fascinating question in my own journey and it is the foundation upon which the gospel to the “up and ins” can be built. It is a conversation I believe the US church needs to have in order to better understand what it means to be in the world but not of the world.

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