Interview: Tim Keller and Mac Pier on Reaching the Global Church - Locally

This is Part One of The Christian Post's interview with Redeemer Presbyterian Church Lead Pastor, Tim Keller and New York City Leadership Center Founder and CEO, Mac Pier at Movement Day on October 10, 2013.

CP: What was the most surprising part for you of Movement Day 2013?

Keller: Well, I'm always surprised that people come back. It's a long way to go for a lot of people and it's an effort to come Movement Day if you're extremely busy, so I think it's fair to say that I'm always surprised that people are as moved by the idea as they are. I often don't expect people to like or get excited about the same things that I get excited about and I'm impressed by its growth. It's certainly got more to do with Mac's great organizational abilities, nevertheless, all this organizing wouldn't work if it wasn't resonating, if it wasn't striking a cord and it is striking a cord with more and more Christians and Christians in other cities. So that's what always surprises me is that they keep coming back and the movement continues to grow.

Pier: I think similarly, I'm surprised by the speed at which it's growing, both in terms of number and also geographically. We have leaders this year from about 360 cities. Increasingly we have leaders coming from around the world. In a related effort, we started doing these monthly calls a couple months ago. During one of them, we had 20 leaders from 13 countries that got an a phone call, some were at three in the morning, some were nine at night but it's all around this theme of what's happening in these cities. There's a hunger for these urban practitioners.

CP: Movement Day's seeks to catalyze the local, urban church. To what extent does Movement Day currently reach storefront churches and other non-English speaking congregations?

Pier: One of the things that we have found with our model this year is that we need to provide a lot of scholarships for leaders that have financial challenges. For one of the tracks this year that's working in the area of incarceratio, a lot of the churches they work with are churches that receive people coming out of prison. So we found that it's really important to assist those kind of leaders, but once we made the assistance available, there is a lot of enthusiasm and hunger to come.

We're seeing strong interest. The demographics of the church in New York is over 90 percent non-Caucasian in New York and the Movement Day audience is pretty representative of that.

Keller: I would just add that I think it takes a little bit longer for the word to spread in that kind of community because the communication is more informal but I do see increasing numbers of bivocational ministers and that's what we're talking about is people who have jobs and are willing to take some time off to come to this.

I think, in the early days of Movement Day, I think the normal forms of communication which are formal—I don't think it probably reached the storefront as quickly. I think it's taken longer but I think it's happening.

CP: As two white men who are leading the church in an international and diverse city, how do you engage your own power and privilege?

Pier: I think the role of an Anglo-leader in a global city is to be a facilitator, to be in a sense a neutral person that can create a diverse community together and create opportunities for diverse leaders to have a platform that they might not normally have with a more international audience. I really do believe that our role is to be a bit like a Barnabus — support, find resources, encourage and attempt to move things along their way.

Keller: Most of the doors in the country and most of the resources in the country are still in the hands of white people so unless you have some white leaders who are willing to try and broker those resources into the hands of urban ministers and pastors, it's just not going to happen. And so, I do think that white leaders who know their place are extremely important and will be for quite a long time because we can be that kind of go-between, brokers of that power. You're right, the implication of your question, is that we shouldn't be in a position where we essentially put ourselves as kings, as it were, believing that because we've got these goodies to give out, we keep our place of privilege. However, I think if we do it with a servant heart I think it's actually still an important thing that we can do for the church.