Monday, September 15, 2008

Gospel DNA

by Rev. Wong Fong Yang

Redeemer Presbyterian Church is a mega church with 5000 members (8000 worshippers) in its multiple services. The worship services are traditional and contemporary depending which service one attends. I found that both traditional and contemporary worship services of RPC convey the sense of the worth and beauty of God through thoughtful liturgy, kingdom-centered prayer, Christ-centered preaching and joyful music. The worshippers are not particularly expressive type. Given the intellectual culture of Manhattan and the professorial style of preaching by Dr.Tim Keller, Redeemer church naturally attracts the professionals, the academia, and the college students who appreciate content rich sermons. It is not a Charismatic church and yet the growth is phenomenon.
I interviewed a few members of the church to find out what made them want to come to RPC and the consistent answer I got is this: “Tim Keller’s sermons touch our lives. Redeemer has a balance gospel ministry. The church is able to reach out to secular people. RPC knows how to engage the culture without condemning the evilness of the culture.”

So what is the real secret?

Tim Keller is able to make the truth of the gospel clear and real. His expository preaching consistently shows how all Biblical themes climax in Christ and his work of salvation. His teaching on the gospel of grace is a death blow to legalism, moralism and relativism. If gospel is clearly preached, the church will not produce self-righteous, judgmental, self-centered Christians.

Secularism tends to make people selfish and individualistic. Religion and moralism in general tends to make people parochial and self-righteous.

But the gospel however humbles and affirms us at the same time, since in Christ, we are simul iutus et peccator. In the oft repeated famous phrase of Tim Keller “At the same time, we are more flawed and sinful than we ever dared believe, yet we are more loved and accepted than we ever dared hope” Such gospel truth moves people to holiness (not legalistic, pharisaical self-righteousness type of holiness) and service out of grateful joy for grace, and out of love of the glory of God for who he is in himself.

RPC has a ministry called Diaconate where the deacons and deaconesses carry out the ministry of help and mercy to those needy members in the church so that there are no needy persons among them. The volunteers serve joyfully out of a deep sense of gratitude to God’s redemptive grace in their lives. The artists and musicians convey truth, beauty and excellence in their professions. They express their creativity through music and worship service in such a way that the beauty and worth of God is seen and felt. The members are passionate about justice issues and engage the New York culture with the aim to transform with the power of the gospel.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church is certainly impacting Manhattan and other major cities of the world. My 6 weeks here with Redeemer Church Planting Center will certainly be and has already been a life and ministry transforming experience for me.

God in his graciousness has given me this exposure to see how Tim Keller builds that kind of church that impact and influence the culture of cities and nations.

CDPC already share many aspects of the DNA of Redeemer Church. We need a united and strong team who share the same vision to take CDPC to another level.

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