On behalf of The Gospel Coalition, I’m pleased to announce the launch of a major new initiative: The Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics.
Ever since he cofounded TGC in 2005, Tim Keller’s example of connecting the gospel to all of life—from relationships and vocation to philosophy and culture—has inspired much of what we do as a ministry.
Now, through The Keller Center (explore the brand-new website), we’ll build on his example by supporting a new generation of bold evangelists and effective apologists who will communicate the unchanging gospel for a changing world.
Our Post-Christendom Culture
We’re living amid the largest religious transformation in American history. Forty million Americans have left the church in the last 25 years. Many other Western countries have already seen similar declines.
But that’s not the only challenge. Aquinas and Augustine, Calvin and Luther—all of them defended the faith amid a high level of Christian control over society. After the fall of Christendom, however, believers in Western countries now face a strange mixture of apathy and antagonism toward the gospel. Many of our neighbors view Christianity as yesterday’s news but also as the source of today’s problems.
This is a new challenge. A big challenge. And church leaders don’t yet know what to do.
That’s where The Keller Center comes in. We want to help church leaders around the world do the following:
Close the back door.
Open the front door.
Send out the equipped.
1. Close the Back Door
Too many of our friends and family have walked out the back door of the church. Their reasons are both common and complex. Some leave while disenchanted with division, hypocrisy, and abuse. Others never find a Christian who can assuage their doubts or even acknowledge their questions.
The Keller Center wants to close that back door by giving you gracious answers and innovative strategies to help friends and family find God in the church. We want to stem the tide of the dechurching by cultivating spiritual depth and humility among Christian leaders. Already, we’ve commissioned and begun to assess the largest-ever survey of people who have left the church. We plan to share this data through our website, books, and podcasts as we consult experts who can help church leaders respond wisely.
2. Open the Front Door
In previous decades, even non-Christians in Western nations might know enough about God, sin, and salvation to connect the dots as we testified to Christ. But now, those dots may not even occur to them. Many of our secular neighbors can’t seem to comprehend the gospel, let alone admit they need it. They’d never think of coming to church.
We need churches with wide-open front doors, where our neighbors can connect the dots by meeting the body of Christ, a compelling community. Some churches, especially in the most secular cities, already do this work effectively. The Keller Center shares best practices through cohorts, essays, books, conferences, courses, podcasts, lectures, and more.
3. Send Out the Equipped
In a post-Christendom culture, most of our neighbors won’t first hear about Jesus inside a church building. Even as we make the church a more hospitable place for skeptics and doubters, we must go to them—in their neighborhoods, in their schools, and in their workplaces. But how can we stand for Christ in a hostile classroom or work setting? How do we love our neighbors when they perceive us as the “bad guys”?
The Keller Center’s resources equip Christians with answers developed in collaboration between leaders in the academy, marketplace, and church. We have begun to develop creative and accessible apologetics content on platforms such as TikTok and YouTube, where many young people first encounter arguments against Scripture and faith.
Everyone Can Grow
Whatever your experience, everyone can still grow in his or her evangelism, discipleship, and defense of the faith. The Keller Center’s intended audience includes the following:
- Pastors seeking help applying gospel truth to complex cultural issues
- Students preparing for ministry in post-Christendom contexts
- Youth leaders and parents walking with young people through doubt and deconstruction
- Teenagers worried about their friends losing faith because of so-called exvangelical influencers on TikTok and YouTube
- Professors, teachers, authors, and thought leaders seeking to identify and critique the contradictions and lies of modern secular culture
- Christians seeking thoughtful answers and effective evangelistic strategies as they engage secular neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family
In short, 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. 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.
How You Can Join
Much of this training will come from The Keller Center’s inaugural class of 26 fellows. But in order to train others, the fellows must first be trained themselves. The Keller Center equips these next-generation leaders through regular online gatherings and an annual in-person retreat. Through speakers and seminars, in prayer and study together, the fellows develop the spiritual depth and discernment necessary for this demanding work.
During their multiyear terms, these writers and teachers will collaborate on answers to the questions that either lead people to lose faith or prevent people from finding faith in the first place. Some fellows will write academic works that endure for generations. Others will record videos that spread through social media. All will combine rigorous cultural analysis with theological depth.
You can sign up today for our first three online cohorts, where you can learn with and from other frontline leaders about the most pressing issues facing the church. You can attend our microevents at TGC23, featuring The Keller Center staff and fellows. You can sign up for our newsletter and be notified when our fellows publish an essay or release a new podcast. And you can financially support the center so our efforts can grow in proportion to the scale of this historic challenge.
By God’s grace, we can close the back door and stem the tide of dechurching. We can open the front door so skeptics will enter the foyer on the path to saving faith. Once equipped, we can depart together through the front door to show unbelievers the truth, goodness, and beauty of the gospel as the only hope that fulfills our deepest longings.
Close the back door.
Open the front door.
Send out the equipped.