Tim Keller on A Gospel-Movement in a City:
Can we produce a gospel city movement? No. A movement is the result of two sets of factors. Take for example, a garden. A garden flourishes because of the skill and diligence of the gardener and the condition of the soil and the weather. The first set of factors—gardening—is the way we humanly contribute to the movement. This encompasses a self-sustaining, naturally growing set of ministries and networks, which we will look at in more detail below.
But the second set of factors in a movement—the conditions—belong completely to God. He can open individual hearts (“soil”) to the Word (“seed”) in any numbers he sovereignly chooses. And he can also open a culture to the gospel as a whole (“weather”). How does God do this? Sometimes he brings about a crisis of belief within the dominant culture. Two of the great Christian movements—the early church of the second and third centuries and the church in China in the twentieth and twentieth first centuries—were stimulated by crisis of confidence within their societies. The belief in the gods of Rome—and belief in orthodox Marxism in China—began falling apart as plausible worldviews. There was broad disaffection toward the older “faiths” among the population at large. This combination of cultural crisis and popular disillusionment with old ways of belief can supercharge a Christian movement and lift it to greater heights than it can reach in a culture that is indifferent (rather than hostile) to Christians. There can also be catastrophes that lead people of a culture to look to spiritual resources, as when the Japanese domination of Korea after 1905 became a context for the large number of conversions to Christianity that began around that time.
In short, we cannot produce a gospel movement with the providential work of the Holy Spirit. A movement is an ecosystem that is empowered and blessed by God’s Spirit.
What is the ecosystem that the Holy Spirit uses to produce a gospel city movement?
Read the rest for his rationale.