Doubters Welcome

As a college student, I attended a campus Christian fellowship that always had a book table of Christian literature. There was a little pamphlet there called Doubters Welcome, and I always wanted to be part of a church that had that spirit. The third of Redeemer’s “core values” is that we be a place where those who are not believers (or who are not sure what they believe) find that their questions are invited, their doubts and difficulties are respected, and their struggles have been anticipated. We are relentlessly aware of and glad for the presence of doubters in our midst. We are very relentless yet extremely noncombative as we present the reasonable beauty of the Christian faith in every aspect of our ministry.

Why do we do this?

First the joyful effects of the gospel in our own lives give us an enormous energy for witness. How can we keep our mouths closed about such a wonder? But second, the humbling nature of the gospel leads us to approach nonbelievers without superiority and with respect. Since we are saved only by God’s grace and not our goodness, we expect to often find wisdom and compassion in non-Christians that at many points may exceed our own. Third, the love-experience of the gospel removes from us the fear of others’ disapproval. All this drains us of influences that can lead us to treat non-Christians as “evangelism cases”—people that we relate to, talk to and care for only in order to win them over to our side. That is to objectify and dehumanize them, and, not surprisingly, it is unwinsome. We don’t love people in order to evangelize them. Rather, we evangelize them in order to love them. The more these dynamics are present in our lives, the more Redeemer will powerfully draw in new people like a magnet (Acts 2:47).

How do we do this?

In evangelism, we take we take an intelligent, not an authoritarian, approach. We remember what it is like to not believe, and we do not expect people to believe simply by being told what is true. People want to know why. Second, we take a process, not a “crisis,” approach. We provide for multiple exposures to the gospel. We afford people the opportunity to ask questions, so that they receive information about Christianity in an order and shape that addresses their situation. Third, we take a “presuppositional” approach to persuading people about Christianity. That means that we believe every person, even the skeptic, already does believe in God (Romans 1:18-25). We therefore find “clues of God”—insights into truth—that they have, and use them to show the way back to their Creator and Redeemer. Jesus responded positively to a man who was in “process” who asked, “I believe—but help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24), and at Redeemer we want to do the same. 

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In 1989 Dr. Timothy J. Keller, his wife and three young sons moved to New York City to begin Redeemer Presbyterian Church. In 20 years it has grown to meeting for five services at three sites with a weekly attendance of over 5,000. Redeemer is notable not only for winning skeptical New Yorkers to faith, but also for partnering with other churches to do both mercy ministry and church planting. Redeemer City to City is working to help establish hundreds of new multi-ethnic congregations throughout the city and other global cities in the next decades.