Tim Keller

“Persuasion” – Tim Keller (full .pdf download of Keller’s talk)

I have also included abbreviated notes and the Q&A for Keller and Driscoll that followed this talk:

You have got to convince people through the mind before you can expect to affect the heart.

 

(1)  Paul on persuasion and the cross

     a.    Verbal bullying *using force of personality, witty, and cutting disdain, super-confident and demagoguery to beat the listeners into wanting to be on the speaker’s side)

     b.    (the opposite)

(2)  A basic model for persuasion

     a.    Listeners (‘receptors’) automatically interpret communication from the perspective of their own context

     b.    There are two basic approaches to communication: sender-oriented and receptor-oriented

                i.     We need to put words in the listener’s frame of reference

               ii.     This is analogous to “The Dummy’s Guide to…” The expert is entering into the receptor’s frame of reference and language to explain the truths of x.

              iii.     It is far easier to write a technical journal because we can use our jargon and do not have to do the hard work of interpreting truths so that our listeners can understand.

     c.     Practice

             i.     Listening

                    1.    You have to read what they read, watch what they watch, listen to what they listen to

            ii.     Enter the framework

               1.    What are the strongest held beliefs of your audience

                    a.    Teenagers will think the church is prudish, while Muslims think we’re too loose.                                      Contextualize to your audience.

               2.    Use emotion in a way that fits their context

           iii.     Challenging the framework

               1.    Find things that they believe in 4-6 and show them that something they believe strongly is inconsistent.

                   a.    For example, for college students who hold that justice is primary (that it is wrong for the strong to eat the weak)

                   b.    Then you show them that their belief in natural selection contradicts this because they came to be through the strong eating the weak

           iv.     Completing the framework

 

Table Talk

 

Questions

What are some specific listening strategies you would recommend for us?

[Tim] I regularly read periodicals and newspapers (Village Voice, Nation, New Republic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Review, read the book reviews) Have dialogue with the writer. Imagine what they will say to your sermon. Chronicles of Higher Education. Ken Myers’ Mars Hill audio.

[Mark] Watch some TV and catch the shows your culture watches. Magazines and go to the magazine rack (every picture on the cover is someone’s heaven). Walk the mall and go into stores that you normally wouldn’t go to in order to see what people buy. Talk to clerks and people that are working – Who comes in here? What kind of attitude do they have?

What are some basic and common qualities of wolves?

[Mark] How do you decipher a wolf? They do not have the well-being of the flock in mind. The best way to confront a sin is in private. For those whose default is to go public, this is a red light. Typically wolves will have doctrinal issues. Also, he will typically go after the inner circle of power. He will sugar-up the pastor and wife. We need to be aware of these folks.

[Tim] Every book on conflict usually says there is a difference between someone solving a problem and another who is trying to destroy you. Haugk has a book on conflict in the church speaks of five stages. If you are too fast or too slow to call someone a wolf, you can destroy your church. You need to have people around you to help you discern in a timely way.

What are some challenges to urban church planting and children?

[Tim]The wife will have issues of carting the children around. It can be physically more tiring for the wife than in the suburbs. Raising a child before the age of eight is very difficult.

What about a church planting situation?

[Mark] The line between family and work gets too blurred if you are not vigilant. When you open your house to many people, there will be many devious people who are coming. You need to be very discerning and set parameters around your family.

What does it look like to get rid of wolves in your church?

[Mark] You need to have an extremely small door for the position of elder. The mistake I made at Mars Hill was that I was the only one to carry around the gun so that I was the only one to pull the trigger on getting rid of someone. The time to fire an elder is about two weeks before you have thought about it. “Hire slowly, fire quickly.”

[Tim]  Having a group of people who mitigate the decision are like shock-absorbers. We need to let the offender that you stand behind their decision and hand it over to them (especially in the context of a larger church).

Do you think you are dumbing down the sermon when you speak of being listener-focused?

[Tim] Yes. It is not a bad term. The Gospel is offensive and you want people to understand that it offends them. You want to simplify and interpret the message for people.

How can I accurately discern if I am called to plant churches?

[Mark] Fiorst, you need to have a sense of God’s calling. Second, that call needs to be confirmed by the church (per 1Tim 3; Titus 2). Third, you need to be assessed by a group that knows the ins-and-outs of church planting (not merely a congregation). Invariably, we either over or under-assess our ability.

[Tim] “Counsels do err” (WCF). Even though a counsel may say you are not ready, they may err.

How do you move from a small Bible study to a missional church?

[Mark] Launch the equivalent of a church service. You are going to have several launches. You should do this incrementally. Launch multiple care structures.

Give us an instance where you tried this method of persuasion and it did not take? How did you react?

[Tim] Most people are not persuaded. I am shocked when someone is convinced because people are typically skeptical and suspicious. I don’t have high expectations.

How do you help/encourage your wife so she feels like a partner in ministry?

[Tim] Be attentive to your wife and see how her gifts can be used. Find a spot where she can plug holes in the church and get someone to ask her to help. Your wife should be as active (but not much less) as a mature woman in the church. She should be an example, not an exemplar.

[Mark] Define the role of what the pastor’s wife is and is not. You need to be explicit about this because many people will come in with their expectations of your wife. Your wife should be a mature member of the church. There is no job description for the wife. Take into account the season of life you are in the church and family.

How essential is racial reconciliation in urban church planting?

[Tim] We ought to be as racially diverse as we can (b/c Eph 2 presents this view), but we also need to reflect our community. There are places where the diversity would be superficial – so that we could try to be like Noah’s Ark (two of each kind). You’re never where you ought to be in this area…you have to go after and invite those who are different than yourself. If you make a general call for leaders you will get people who look like you to gather around them. You are leveling the playing field.

[Mark] Going to multiple campuses is our way of trying to reach these various cultures. You can intentionally work towards making your elders diverse (without compromise). 

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Less Hype. More Humility.

Please. Embedded in our consumeristic culture, there is the assumption that newer is better than older–though I prefer aged beef and cheddar to new. There is the assumption that grand and renovated and powerful is preferable to meek and lowly and weak.

The church often adopts this form of communicating in an effort to gather people into its doors. “God is doing awesome things here at Church _______.” The fact is that God is doing awesome things everyday and everywhere. He’s sustained your life. He’s given you sight and hearing and legs. And if you have none or only one of these, he’s still given you life and a mind to engage the world around you. Truly miraculous. What is more, is God not also doing something in the old, decrepit church that meets faithfully every Sunday? Is God not at work in the mundane? Is the changing of laundry and washing of dishes and working through an argument devoid of God’s presence?

I see so many churches trying to drum up excitement about the latest outreach or project, when what our culture needs is the staying power and sobriety of faithfulness in the ho-hum drudgery of going to a job you hate or a marriage that is contentious. What we need is not more hype, but more humility. More service and less heavy-handedness. We need more gentleness and less power grabs.

If we don’t, what then becomes of the senior citizen who is tired? What becomes of the baby who is sleeping? What becomes of the unemployed and outcast and burdened? They are forgotten. They are seen as less valuable because they aren’t producing the kind of energy requisite for assumed faithfulness to the disciples’ call.

In reality, we need less loud voices and red faces and sweaty brows and more silence and calmness and a deep well of contentment.

The New Economics Will Be People

So I went to a coffee shop this morning and was struck by the utter efficiency they were churning out drinks. In fact the team lead said this much as encouragement to the six other workers behind the counter.

I walked in. Smiled at the barista. Was greeted with a blank stare as he continued to froth the milk and deliver the piping hot skinny latte with extra foam to the drive-thru. I walked to the register and was passed with nary a glance…even when the team lead said “Hello.” No she didn’t look at me, but made sure that her metric of greeting a guest in the first ten seconds was met. A box that is checked. That’s what I was. A large dark roast with no room for cream and sugar. And surely there was no saccharin here. There was utility and efficiency.

In all our pandering for growth our marketing of environment is nothing more than a marketing tool. The timers and grids for efficiency have crowded out the thing that matters. The only thing that matters in products.

You see, the products that are pushed are labeled as though they were made for you. In reality, the products being sold to you have (for the most part) been made for the manufacturer. People have merely become a means to the end of bigger, faster, better.

In the new economy, people will matter more.

They won’t matter because they need to matter to grow the business. Too often companies tell you that you’re important because they want your money. They don’t want to make a difference as much as they want their new car or luxury vacation.

I want to say this loud and clear. In the new economy, people will be the end in themselves. They will no longer be viewed as a metric or a number. In the new economy, mom and pop will be sought after. Because, after all, we all know that the verbiage of how you matter to company x is just verbiage. It’s merely eliciting a response for another end.

In the new economics, people will want to matter. They will flock to the place where they are known by name. And not just to tout the “community” of an establishment. Did you notice the subtlety of that one? No, people will know your name because they know you and you matter. Your name is not known just to brag that you matter and sell the belonging you too can have if you buy your next skinny latte with extra froth…hold the pandering.

We are not there yet because executives are still measuring. Measuring people. Yet, what the new economy will have to embrace is not a spreadsheet or a graph. They will be forced to embrace people. Not to grow their graph. But to grow their own soul.

On Conformity

As much as I hate to admit it, Christians push conformity. Conformity to the wrong things. Being shaped by a group and set of ideals is inherent to being part of a group–be it Christian, straight edge, atheist. But I am speaking about and to my tribe.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of being a part of several different denominations and have seen this shadow overtaking much of the piety of its adherents. It wasn’t meant to do so.

Do you homeschool? The correct answer depends on the group you’re talking to. Do you go on mission trips? Do you adopt? Do you run around incessantly from meeting to meeting showing how you are making an impact for the kingdom?

We have steered far off course when we get away from the simplicity of the Gospel. Of a life changed and being changed by the Gospel. That is, before Christ’s ascension, he said to merely teach all that he commanded. Yet. Yet, much of our passing on of information is not what Christ taught. They are various implications and applications of what he taught. And so,

Might I encourage you to be slow in conforming to the standards? Not just of popular culture, but of the popularity of whatever group you find yourself milling about. The shadow looms to block out the sun of joy and hope. It chokes out the simple call to humble obedience to Christ, changing out a yoke that not even the teachers can bear.