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Preaching alone won’t spread Christianity, says NYC pastor

In today’s culture, preaching will not be effective if Christians are not also highly effective, writes Dr. Timothy Keller on the website Redeemer City to City.

“In our times, people will be indifferent or hostile to the idea of attending church services without positive contact with Christians living out their lives in love and service,” warns Keller, pastor at New York City’s 2,000-member Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

What about the notion that in our society, preaching is no longer effective?

“It is a mistake to argue that people in our society will not come to hear ‘real preaching,'” writes Keller. “The fact is that, even in a very post-Christian city, if the preaching is of high quality, people will be brought and will come back.


“They will be shocked at how convicting and attractive the gospel message is, and they will feel like they’ve never really heard it before (even if they have been raised in a church).”

“Preaching must not be dry and intellectual but profoundly life-related.

“The preacher’s tone must not be affected and ‘parsonic,’ but genuine, passionate, and transparent.

“There are many conservative evangelicals who take that to mean that preaching is essentially the only thing a minister has to do and everything else takes care of itself.

“That is a disastrous mistake,” writes Keller. “A man who is not deeply involved in personal shepherding, evangelism, and pastoral care will be a bad preacher.


“A man who can’t lead his church well, forming it into a cohesive community, will find that his church can’t really benefit from his preaching.

“To say that preaching is primary in the church is correct. To make it virtually solitary in practice is not.”

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