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NYC ‘mega-pastor’ Tim Keller sees faith booming in the city by Naomi Schaefer Riley, NY Post

Keller’s network has planted over 300 churches in cities across the country and around the world.

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Discussing how believers & non-believers can talk to each other, Fall 2016. Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, & Nicholas Kristof, New York Times. Illustration by A Journey through NYC religions

On a typical New York City day in 1989, there’d be reports of nine rapes, five murders, 255 robberies and 194 aggravated assaults. It wasn’t exactly the ideal destination for a theology professor living in a leafy suburb of Philadelphia with three young children. But that’s where the Presbyterian Church in America asked Tim Keller to go.

Almost three decades later, Keller is stepping down from his role as head pastor at one of the largest churches in New York City. What began as a 200-congregant gathering in space rented from a Seventh-day Adventist church has now blossomed into Redeemer Presbyterian — with three separate services totaling 5,200 people per week. In addition, Keller’s network has planted over 300 churches in cities across the country and around the world.

But he has clearly come to love New York City in particular, and in the next stage of his career, Keller will be leading a campaign to plant a new church in every neighborhood in the Big Apple. ...

“The first thing I’ve noticed is that in almost 30 years, the numbers of conservative Protestant churches across the five boroughs has increased greatly,” Keller tells me. “In light of the decline of religion among millennials across the country, it’s worth noting that much of this growth has been among young adults.” ...

His approach may be falling out of favor among some more orthodox believers. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported on a small but growing number of Christians who, “feeling besieged by secular society . . . are taking refuge” in small, often isolated communities away from negative cultural influences and surrounded by other believers.

This “Benedict Option” was named in honor of St. Benedict, who fled the moral degradation of Rome. It’s also the title of a new book by Rod Dreher, who, writing in Christianity Today, calls it a “strategic withdrawal” by “serious Christian Conservatives [who] could no longer live business-as-usual lives in America.”

Though Dreher doesn’t say Christians should all flee to isolated enclaves, those are where such withdrawal would be easiest. ...

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