Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I have been stimulated by an article written by Tim Keller entitled “Advancing the Gospel into the 21st Century” and have drawn some summary items from his article for this posting.

History has come full circle in that we are reflecting the 1st century worldview and practice. This, of course, makes the book of Acts, with the advance of the gospel of the kingdom of God, particularly helpful as we structure our strategy for gospel advancement.

Keller points to three characteristics taking place in the 1st century:

Firstly, it is a globalized world again. The Romans created a mobility of people, capital and ideas. Cities were multi-ethnic and international, which is also true today. With international trade, business, and the internet, cities are linking more to the rest of the world than they are the nations in which they are located. People in major cities are more like “residents in the major cities of the world” than they are like residents of their own country.

Secondly, it is now an urbanized world much like the world of the Roman Empire. During the period of the Greco-Roman world, large cities were powerful while the nation-states surrounding these cities were weak. Cities were the major influence of culture and power. Technology and the ease of travel and communication have weakened the control governments' exercise over their own citizens. Nations cannot control the flow of information or money in and out of countries. Multi-national corporations operate out of major cities and no longer are serving the interest of any country. Executives may live in several cities at once. The recent global financial meltdown is further evidence as to the power these corporations exercise in our world.

Thirdly, like the Greco-Roman world, our world is fragmented and pluralistic. The day of a national consensus' about truth, morality, and the nature of God are no longer in place. Cities are filled with multiple religions and people groups living within those cities. This is the result of the globalization of our world. Globalization has contributed to the rejection of western culture and the belief that humanism along with science will solve our world’s problems. As a result we are witnessing an increasing spiritual hunger among the peoples of the world. Further evidence of this trend is that more room is given for Christians to occupy philosophy departments at universities in the USA. Keller notes that departments of philosophy have gone from 0% to nearly 25% in our country during the last 30 years. More Christians are finding a place to be involved in the arts and scholarship. Christians have an opportunity today to more effectively influence culture, philosophy, and academics than at any other time since the 1st century.

Because our world so closely mirrors the 1st century, Keller notes the urgency of carefully examining the book of Acts which is so applicable to our present time in order to more effectively expand the gospel today.

In Part Three of this series “Reproducing Churches”, I want to continue to draw from Keller’s examination of the features of ministry strategy in the book of Acts.

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