We asked 35 Christian leaders, “Who is the influencer with the biggest impact on your life and ministry?” Most of these leaders listed several influential thinkers, writers, innovators, and leaders more of us should get to know. This response is from Nate Bush, lead pastor with New City Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Very few communicators can seamlessly weave the biblical text, its psychological implications, and its place in the contemporary world like Tim Keller. Many years ago, while I was at Reformed Theological Seminary and teaching in my first ministry, I discovered Keller’s course “Preaching the Gospel in the Post-Modern World”; it was a real gift (the audio and syllabus are available on the Internet). In this course, Keller taught me how to connect every Bible story to Jesus, how the text confronted the idols of the heart, and how to anticipate the objections of the contemporary listener. Every sermon I have preached from that class forward is deeply indebted to Tim Keller.
Jeff Vanderstelt and the Soma Community have taught me fresh and insightful ways the gospel informs everyday mission. He has shown me there are four really important questions that need to be answered: Who is God? What has he done? In light of that, who am I? And how should I then live? God is Father, Son, and Spirit. He has adopted, purchased, and sent me. That makes me a child, servant, and missionary, which means I should live as a member of a family of servant missionaries. Vanderstelt has fundamentally influenced the way I see the church and her mission.
Tullian Tchividjian has been called an antinomian by some. However, I think he just loves the good news of God’s grace. Tchividjian was one of my professors in college. We spent many hours after class talking about the nature of God’s “one-way love.” Tchividjian has helped me rest from the burden of trying to prove myself. He is addicted to the grace of God. God’s gift of salvation is based wholly on the work of God, and therefore, we have no reason to boast in what we have done. I find Tchividjian very repetitive. I also find I cannot hear about God’s grace enough.
Tim Chester’s powerful, helpful book You Can Change shows how the gospel can produce real change in a person’s life. Another of Chester’s books (cowritten with Steve Timmis), Everyday Church, helped me to see mission is not something we do on special occasions. Mission is a matter of everyday life. Chester taught me to see myself as a missionary in my neighborhood, at the coffee shop, and with my kid’s soccer team. He taught me how to be an ordinary, everyday missionary. Every Christian could benefit from a little dose of Tim Chester.