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One-on-One With Tim Keller About Reaching Skeptics With the Gospel

For example, how does it help you face suffering? How does it help you forgive people? How does it help you?

So I have a list of those. I can’t go through it right now, but when I say question people’s answers, I like that the best, because it means you befriend them and you’re just being open about yourself at times and how faith works in you. Questioning people’s answers is one thing, answering people’s questions should only happen if they come at you with the list. We all know the list. And I do think that Christians need to spend a lot of time thinking about how they will answer big life questions off that formidable list.

You need to work with other Christians, your pastor or whoever to develop working answers that you feel good about. Otherwise, what’s going to happen is that you’re going to hide who you are from other people because you’re afraid of those questions.

If you can answer people’s questions and also learn how to question people’s answers, that’s how you can approach having these conversations.

Ed: You’ve obviously been involved in more targeted approaches toward sharing the gospel in places of deep spiritual need. Talk a little bit about The Gospel & Our Cities initiative. What are we trying to do here?

Tim: Everybody talks about how our Western culture is getting more and more secular and increasingly post-Christian. It’s true that not all parts of the world, and not all parts of North America, are post-Christian, but the cities—especially the middle of the biggest cities—are.

Reaching the cities is a) more expensive, b) more complicated, because you have multiple ethnic groups and multiple races and national groups, and c) more secular and resistant at its core.

But despite these complications, if we are watching more and more people move to cities, which we are, the church has to go where the people are. That’s what the Great Commission is about: We are called to go into all the world, which means, in other words, go to where the world actually is.

Just think about this illustration: If two people in need are on top of the mountain and 100,000 are down in the valley, then you’d mainly go to the valley to offer help. That doesn’t mean you ignore the two people at the top of the mountain, but you’d go to the valley because that’s where the greatest need is.

So as the church, we’re going into the city. That being said, it’s actually harder to reach cities. It’s more complicated, more expensive, they’re more resistant, and we do have to think together about how to do it.

This article originally appeared here.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible story. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church.