Timothy Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and author of the award-winning bestseller The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, recently fielded dozens of questions about culture and Christianity from Twitter followers. The online dialogue included a provocative exchange with popular spoken word poet Jefferson Bethke in which he found one of the influential Christian minister's responses to be "so true and so good."
In his first-ever Twitter Q&A, Keller, who joined the social network in March, took questions on Monday for an hour that touched on several issues.
Bethke, author of Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough (Thomas Nelson, Oct. 7, 2013) and who gained popularity with his "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus" YouTube video, managed to get a response from Keller that other participants found "profound" and worth retweeting nearly 500 times.
"If you could give my generation one piece of advice/encouragement what would it be?" Bethke, 24, tweeted during the Q&A with Keller.
"You are the generation most afraid of real community because it inevitably limits freedom and choice. Get over your fear," was the megachurch pastor's response.
"Millennials will be more anti-institutional," Keller went on to suggest in response to another question on whether those born between 1977 and 1992 would further defect from churches, as suggested by Christian author Rachel Held Evans in a recent CNN Belief Blog post.
"Jury is out if the defection will be worse than the boomer defection," he added.
As for what he views as the "single biggest problem" with the Christian Church in the U.S., the minister noted pointedly, "What we have here is a failure to communicate. Period."
Among the list of questions put before Keller, all of which were featured in the minister's Storify page, was a request for three adjectives to describe his thoughts about the future of the church in North America — to which he responded: "Fractured, Marginalized, Hopeful."
Keller was also asked to name the "top 3 signs of an authentic church," and he suggested: "Preaching the true Word of God. Administering the sacraments and biblical church discipline."
One Q&A participant probed Keller about his spiritual discipline practices, which he said involved praying three times a day, reading the book of Psalms in its entirety every month and the entire Bible every year, and self-examination via 17th century theologian and author John Owen's The Mortification of Sin.
Another of one Keller's book suggestions was Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, for "a Christian who struggles with guilt, depression or despair."
The 62-year-old author, whose popular titles include Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters and The Prodigal God, among many others, revealed that he started writing when he was 58 and cautioned against ministers penning books too early.
"I don't suggest writing when a younger minister still learning ministry and building," he tweeted.
Keller rounded out his inaugural Twitter Q&A, which featured the hashtag "#askTK," with a hint that there would be more such interactions with this 53,000-plus followers. The NYC pastor's introductory tweet back in March was the revealing, "My son is making me do this." The most frequently used words in Keller's tweets thus far have been "gospel," "faith," "sin" and "Christ," according to analysis of his Twitter feed.