Citizens Conference Recap – Morning Sessions

April 3, 2014 | In Church

Tim KellerCitizens was a one day event held by City to City Australia, at Luna Park on the 29th of March. Tim Keller was the main speaker and delivered two addresses in the morning, followed by some breakouts in the afternoon and a closing address by Tim Chaddick (who I hadn’t heard of before learning of the event) in the afternoon.

Unusually, I took lots of notes during the day. Unusual, because I rarely take notes! However, I wanted to make the best of the opportunity presented on the day to consider, learn and think about what it means to be citizens of heaven but also citizens of earthly cities that we live in now. Below are some of short snippets of what I though was interesting on the day.

Talk 1 – Gospel

The first session of the day from Tim Keller was loosely based on Colossians 3, although the majority of the time was spent discussing the Parable of the Lost Son, which was the topic of his book, The Prodigal God.

As Citizens in our cities, Keller told us that we need to be people who:

  • Are able to admit they’re wrong
  • Stop handling things with self-pity; and
  • Don’t look down on others

These 3 points came out of the truth that a full understanding of the Gospel should make us humble. The Gospel also allows us to fail, and repent, because we’re all sinful. As a result we shouldn’t need to seek the approval of others but in the same way, we shouldn’t lord our ‘righteousness’ over others.

Talk 2 – Movement

One of the first things that Keller spoke about that I found encouraging in the 2nd session was the reminder that God’s still at work in all situations – not just the big movements we know about that have been recorded in history. I think this is important to remember when we feel like nothing is happening.

Most of the talk was spent identifying the characteristics that Keller has found in successful Gospel Movements.


Keller noted that the Gospel wasn’t changed in the early church, and in fact the apostles kept an eye on what was being preached. However, the people spread throughout the world just preached and communicated in new ways. The content remained consistent but the methods changed.


When denominations hold onto their vitamins (the term Keller used to describe the things they hold dear and try and do well almost exclusively to everything else), and attack others for doing doing well the things they’re not, revival won’t happen.

Keller believes that while differences matter and can be good (when not on core doctrinal issues), revival happens across different Gospel believing denominations (in which it can be assumed that God blesses them) and so, perhaps,  that the differences between them aren’t insurmountable. We need to learn as much as we can from our brothers and sisters.

New Things Happen

Keller found that there are a few things that happen when a movement is making progress:

  • Church Planting
  • Ministries are developed for particular demographics of people (particularly applicable for international cities with immigrants from all over the world)
  • Christians, in the name of Jesus, should be working together for social justice
  • Christian Professionals band together to work out how they can use their skills and organisations to advance the Gospel. Leaders of businesses, need to be friends!

Extraordinary Prayer

Finally, Keller said that we can do everything in our power to clear the way for renewal and a Gospel movement to happen, but we ultimately need God to set it alight. Keller thinks that while revival in our cities is a big thing to ask for, God may be pleased that we’re asking for it, and bless us in doing his work. We need to pray with boldness, asking for God to do big things in and through us, for revival to happen.

Incidentally, there’s a sermon by Keller based on the passage which was read on the day from Acts which covers more of the biblical foundations for what was discussed available for free on the Redeemer website.

I’ll sum up the afternoon workshop and session, both delivered by Tim Chaddick, in my next post.

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  1. […] Note: This post follows on from my Citizens morning session recap. […]

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