In January I claimed that Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God DVD and workbook was my resource of 2009. I’m pretty confident that his new Gospel In Life DVD and workbook will my resource of 2010.
As the title suggests, Gospel in Life looks at how the gospel is to be lived out in our lives, in our church communities and in the world. So it’s a kind of discipleship programme. It would be great to use for training leaders within your church or with your small groups or as part of a vision-setting programme.
The DVD consists of eight ten-minute talks by Keller. It’s just Keller speaking to camera, but the windows behind open out onto different views of the city and key points are animated on cityscape backgrounds so although its very simple the overall effect is engaging and pleasing. The workbook includes and Bible study and discussion questions for each session plus fairly intensive ‘homework’ involving further reading and a small group project. Here’s the outline of sessions:
1. City – The World That Is
2. Heart – Three Ways to Live
3. Idolatry – The Sin Beneath
4. Community – The Context for Change
5. Witness – An Alternate City
6. Work – Cultivating the Garden
7. Justice – A People for Others
8. Eternity – The World That Is To Come
It’s all here – all the important missional insights we have come to expect of Keller: the focus on the city, the centrality of the heart, the need to live by grace, the significance of idolatry, the importance of cultural engagement, the role of work in mission, the integration of social involvement. If I have a criticism is that, given the constraints of eight sessions of 10 minutes, I was often left thinking, ‘I’m glad he made that point, but I fear people might miss it.’ Also the homework is too intensive for some of the people with whom we work. But you can readily adapt the material.
It’s clearly designed with a Western context in mind, but we went through it on a recent visit to a couple sent by a our church to the Middle-East and it was full of resonances for them in their context. Because time was short we combined sessions 2 and 3, 4 and 5, 6 and 7, and sessions 1 and 8 could also be combined.
One final reflection. I was struck working through the sessions how close Keller’s vision of church and mission is that to ours in The Crowded House. What’s striking is that the structure of his church is so different. Steve Timmis and I have begun refuting the idea that there is a ‘TCH model’ of church – not least because there are different church structures within The Crowded House network, but also because we have never wanted to put The Crowded House forward are the right way of doing church! But we are persuaded by the theology of church and mission that shapes what we do. Listening Keller reinforced this conviction: the principles we share in common matter, the structural outworking of those principles can and should vary in each context. So don’t get hung up on how to do this or that – get the theology right.
The workbook is available from Amazon.co.uk, but not the DVD so UK readers will have get this from Amazon.com.