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An Evangelical Pastor On Reaching The Religiously Unaffiliated

Princeton

Rev. Timothy Keller spent nearly 30 years reaching out to skeptics in New York City. Here’s what he’s learned.

(By Carol Kuruvilla, The Huffington Post.) After nearly 30 years at the helm of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Rev. Timothy Keller announced last week that he will be stepping down from the role of senior pastor at his church.

Keller, a New York Times bestselling author, is an influential voice within evangelical Christianity. His church grew from a 15-person prayer group on the Upper East Side to a community of more than 5,000 that holds multiple Sunday services at three Manhattan branches, and is affiliated with over 300 congregations around the world.

As the leader of a conservative congregation in the middle of a big city that tends to swing liberal, Keller has years of experience trying to bridge the gap between those two world views. And he’s become known for his outreach to the religiously unaffiliatedthe growing number of Americans who identify as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”

In The Reason for God, published in 2008, Keller makes the case that Christianity is a rational belief system by tackling a few of the doubts that skeptics, both non-believers and those who question Christianity in particular, have about God. In one of his latest books, Making Sense of God, Keller steps further back and addresses questions that skeptics have about faith itself ― and whether any version of religion makes sense or has any relevance to modern life.

Keller told The Huffington Post that the job of an evangelist isn’t necessarily any harder than when he started Redeemer many decades ago ― but it’s different. 

“Nowadays, I think the difficulty isn’t just the hostility; it’s also that we as a society are ill-equipped to really respect, dialogue and learn from each other when we disagree or have different political or religious views,” Keller told The Huffington Post. “I think many people want a pluralism that’s healthy and honoring of each other’s differences but we -– both the religious and the non-religious –- don’t know how to do this well.”

The Huffington Post caught up with Keller to speak about his upcoming career transition and about what he’s learned about the religiously unaffiliated during his 28 years of ministry at Redeemer.

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