I picked up Tim Keller‘s newest book, Center Church. It hit the bookstore shelves this morning. I have as yet read only a few chapters. But as expected it is an excellent expression of holistic gospel-centered ministry. In short it is a book about forming a Theological Vision for ministry, and living out that vision faithfully in whatever context one may live and serve in such a way as to be fruitful.
In particular I appreciate how from the outset Keller explains the difference and navigates between the two common ministry measuring sticks, success & faithfulness. It seems to me that too many act as if we should assume these are mutually exclusive – as if either is a sufficient goal or gauge. Keller instead prefers fruitfulness, seeing both benefits and limitations of success and faithfulness as the simple objectives. Fruitfulness is the end result of the complex web of faithfulness, competence, and the work of God’s Spirit. Success, whatever that really is, is not eschewed, but seen in light of the components of fruitfulness within a particular social context.
Now while I have not read the entire book, I did have one criticism from the outset. While the book is less than 400 pages, and the chapters are easily readable (in other words, one need not be a theological scholar to follow along), the size of the book has the odd dimensions of a textbook. This will look strange among most of the other books on my shelf. But, I guess, if that remains my chief gripe, there is not much to complain about.