Last week, I had the chance to hear Tim Keel speak to a group of United Methodist pastors from Western North Carolina.
Tim is the founding pastor and primary teacher of Jacob’s Well Church in Kansas City. That congregation is located in KC’s version of what we Charlotteans call NoDa . . . a section of the city heavily invested in the arts and deeply interested in God’s justice.
Yet what most impressed me with Keel’s presentation and his congregation was not the tapestry on the walls or the pottery on the shelves. It was the theology undergirding the entire community.
It’s easy to hear echoes of N.T. Wright in Keel’s words, yet his theological insights are not merely derivative of another’s work. There’s much that is fresh and needed in how Keel connects doctrine with devotion.
Here are the top five — or maybe ten — insights from Tim Keel.
1. When my parents divorced when I was 18, the Body of Christ rescued me.
2. As a people, we want to experience and then express the love of God.
3. We want creativity at every level of this organization . . . except accounting.
4. The church is not a collection of individuals based on shared personal preferences.
5. The Gospel is more than a message; it is the creation of a new people that is the continuation of the new Israel under Christ.
6. We gather together each week as an alternate reality to the ways of the world and to rehearse the gospel together.
7. Israel asks in the Old Testament, “what does it look like when God reigns?” Jesus is the answser.
8. John is a re–telling of the creation story. Matthew and Mark are re-tellings of the Exodus story. Luke is a re-telling of the Exile and Return story.
9. The average pastoral tenure in the United States is five years. The average pastor leaves a church because of seven people.
10. How do you know something is alive? Not by how many people show up but by how many stories they tell.