The Gospel Coalition has announced the launch of The Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics, a new initiative designed to help pastors, young people and other Christian leaders adapt to a "post-Christendom culture."
Inspired by the legacy of the TGC co-founder, The Keller Center has the stated aim of raising up and supporting "a new generation of bold evangelists and effective apologists who will communicate the unchanging Gospel for a changing world."
"How do you win people to Christ in a post-Christian era? The Church doesn't have any idea how to do it," Keller says in a video announcing the initiative.
"The way the Keller Center is seeking to address this is, want to raise up a new generation of younger thinkers and ministers and leaders who are able to do evangelism and cultural apologetics in a post-Christendom situation."
If the new center is successful, Keller said the "new generation" of thinkers and scholars will produce "great cultural apologetics in a compelling way to secular people, very secular people, the Church itself will start to translate this content."
"You'll find all sorts of platforms and vehicles for the content that the Keller Center is producing," he said. "And if that happens, the reversal of the decline of the Evangelical Church in this country will take place."
Many younger people are leaving the Evangelical Church partly because the Church doesn't know how to "protect our own young people from the narrative and arguments and messages of our secular culture," Keller added. Training in apologetics will also help strengthen the faith of younger Christians, he said.
"The Keller Center will not just do evangelism; it'll do formation," he said. "I think it also, 20 years from now, hopefully, it'll close that back door so that more young people are coming into the Church than are leaving. And that's our hope for what change and difference the Keller Center could make to the Church."
Collin Hansen, TGC's vice president for content, serves as executive director of the center. Michael Graham serves as the director. Fellows include Sam Allberry, Josh Butler, Sam Chan and others.
Throughout his ministry, Keller, the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, has championed planting churches in urban areas through Redeemer City to City and popularized the term "Gospel-centered churches."
"If there's a sense in which Evangelical Christians are eager to participate in the work of Gospel-centered church planting, especially in cities, that's Tim Keller more than anybody else," Hansen, who recently authored a book on Keller's spiritual formation, told The Christian Post.
The pastor popularized the idea "that our churches need to stay focused on the Gospel, that the Gospel applies to all of life, including our work and how we treat the poor and how we love our neighbors, all those sorts of things, and then doing it in an urban context," Hansen said.
A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that three in 10 Americans identify as "religiously unaffiliated" as the share of Americans who identify as Christians has steadily declined in recent decades. The center surmised that based on the trends, Americans will "continue" to grow less religious in the future.
Hansen told Religion News Service that the center's work will be informed by a national survey of people who have left churches, conducted in partnership with political scientists Ryan Burge, a Baptist pastor and professor at Eastern Illinois University, and professor Paul Djupe of Denison University, who both study the changing religious landscape.
The study findings will be published in a forthcoming book, The Great Dechurching, co-written by Keller Center staffer Graham.
"In summary, The Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics helps Christians show unbelievers the truth, goodness, and beauty of the gospel as the only hope that fulfills our deepest longings," the website notes.
"We want to train Christians — everyone from pastors to parents to professors — to boldly share the good news of Jesus Christ in a way that clearly communicates to this secular age."
Keller was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in May 2020 and is undergoing immunotherapy. He told CP the treatments have kept his cancer at bay, keeping him "exactly where I was two-and-a-half years ago when I got the cancer diagnosis."
Since his diagnosis, Keller has continued to write and teach, sharing biblical wisdom surrounding topics like race, social relationships, systemic injustice and sexuality.
Hansen told CP that Keller has "plenty of other things he wants to write," adding: "We've been praying all along for a good another decade of energetic ministry."
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org