There are many questions churches should be asking to ensure they’re reaching the culture but Tim Keller, pastor emeritus of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City says there are four that he doesn’t think are being addressed.
He proposes four research questions that all churches should study.
How do we create a culture in which pastors pray like they should?
Keller tells the story of a pastor who committed suicide after multiple affairs. In his suicide note he admitted that he hadn’t prayed in years.
Keller believes there are many prayerless pastors in the world today. He understands how the rush of ministry can push prayer aside. “You keep going through the motions until everything blows up and falls apart.”
He says pastors need to pray constantly and should include a once-a-month mortification prayer. Keller describes it as a time with the Lord that is meant to weaken the attitudes of heart that allow for sins to grow.
How do we deal with controversy in the social media age?
In the past, Keller said a pastor or church leader who had a question about something that Keller was doing in his church would contact him personally and get answers. They’d work through it together, perhaps not always seeing eye to eye, but in the end their knowledge would be first hand.
In the social media age, people go online and air their grievance without ever talking to the person with whom they have a complaint.
Keller says too often our information is wrong and insists that ruling elders and teaching elders should make every effort to speak directly to those involved before posting their complaints online.
How do we form our kids and disciples in a digital age?
Keller relates a common scenario; your 14-year-old tells you he doesn’t see anything wrong with homosexuality. Your response “the Bible says…”
Today’s culture says “do what makes you happy” and “you can’t tell another what’s right and wrong”.
In that culture, “what the Bible says” won’t have much impact.
Keller doesn’t believe today’s catechisms are sufficient to form thoughtful Christians in this kind of environment raising serious questions about raising children and disciples.
How do we get lay people to evangelize
Evangelism among church members is waning. Keller believes part of the problem is a lack of knowledge. He says most Christians today won’t identify as Christians because they’re afraid of 2 or 3 questions they’ll be asked and don’t have answers for.
He doesn’t think churchgoers have been equipped to answer challenging questions from an increasingly hostile culture.