Great Quotes from “Centered & Sent”

Yesterday was the end of our Centered & Sent Conference. The conference was designed to help the church navigate the tension between being culturally relevant and radically distinct—a combination that will only become more important as our society grows increasingly post-Christian.

If you were at the conference, you know it was phenomenal. If you missed it, you’ll want to check back and download the videos as soon as they are available. Our guest speakers—Tim Keller, Bryan Loritts, Ed Stetzer, and Joby Martin—brought incredible passion and insight. I’m thankful to each one of them for the wisdom they offer the church.

The full lectures will be available soon, but in the meantime, here are some of the highlights from their talks:

Tim Keller


“Evangelicalism is breaking up. But why? Because culture has changed, and evangelicals are divided on how to respond to it.”

“We are the first culture that says the meaning of life is to free yourself from the sacred order and become a person who can choose all things yourself. Our culture is the first one in history that thinks the essence of character is not self-control, but self-assertion.””

“There’s a great hunger for a new kind of Christianity that lets people feel that they are connected to God—but a Christianity that is completely re-engineered in light of culture, where you still get to decide what is right or wrong for you.”

“Most Christians have never had to do evangelism in a culture like this, a culture in which we are the villains. Well, we had better learn.”

“The church in the United States has not figured out formative practices that can actually shape Christians in this new environment—in an environment where we are enemies instead of the assumed majority.”

“We don’t need churches only in cities. We need them everywhere there are people. But especially cities.”

“Globally, white people are becoming more secular; non-white people are not. The future of the church is multi-ethnic.”

“I want to see Christians of each political party love Christians in the other party more than their party.”

“Christianity grew because of it had two offers that were absolutely unique: a love relationship with God and assurance of salvation by grace. Those two offers are still unique today.”

“The ancient Christians were seen as a threat to society because they were too exclusive and too narrow and therefore a threat to the social order because they would not honor all gods. It’s the same today, because we will not honor all identities.”

“Christians ought to be showing the world that because of our Christianity, not in spite of it, we are the leaders in building bridges in our communities.”

Bryan Loritts


“Contextualization without the punchline of the gospel is compromise. Your changing methods must get you to the central message of the cross.”

“The last vestiges that we are still dealing with today that makes Martin Luther King’s letter penned 53 years ago still relevant is the spirit of evangelical passivity. You cannot claim to be evangelical and be passive to injustice.”

“Soft heart, thick skin. Don’t have it in reverse.”

“Paul understood fundamentally this issue of voluntary segregation (the era in which we live), and he practiced and modeled redemptive impatience in the midst of it. He refused to subscribe to the moniker, ‘Birds of a feather flock together.’”

“Redemptive impatience means I am not satisfied with being ‘against racism.’ It means I actively move toward being anti-racist.”

“Who are you doing life with that doesn’t act like you, think like you, vote like you?”

“Paul did not hang out with both Jew and Gentile because it was a hip, growth-church technique.”

“The only way the Bible says I know I have been vertically reconciled is in how I treat others horizontally. “If I am not right horizontally with others, then I am not right vertically with God.”

“A racist Christian is an oxymoron.”

“Just because something works does not mean it’s biblical.”

“If you want a diverse sanctuary, then have a diverse dinner table. I cannot take people to a place I have not journeyed to myself.”

“If I want to practice redemptive impatience, I must be willing to embrace discomfort. This is where I lose most people.”

“There may be two groups of people, but there is one God and one Church. Work it out.”

Ed Stetzer


“‘The Church in America is dying.’ You hear it all the time. But here’s the thing: No real researcher, anywhere, believes that to be the case. It feels that way because culture has become more secular and church attendance has remained the same.”

“Inactive evangelicals are the worst people ever. I’m not being insulting. I mean statistically, they are bad folks.”

“What is happening in our society? We’re losing the middle ground between people who truly believe the gospel and those who reject it. Cultural Christianity is dying. The ‘nominals,’ year by year, are gradually becoming the ‘nones.’”

“Christians need to rediscover our missionary identity—that we are the people of God, sent by God into the world.”

“In a society like ours, Christians need to rediscover that we’re strangers and temporary residents here. We’ve been acting as if this was not a place where we are sent but a place where we’ve arrived. But this world is not our home, and this nation is not heaven.”

“Don’t assume the gospel, but with clarity preach the gospel.”

“I’m convinced you can’t war with people and win people at the same time.”

“America is not the savior of the world; Jesus is. America is not a city set on a hill; the church is.”

“Statistically, the more you go to church, the more likely you are to be Republican. Statistically, the less you go to church, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. We’re fools if we think that the world doesn’t see that, or that it doesn’t make a difference in the way we evangelize. You may not like these stereotypes, but math doesn’t care about your feelings.”

“Culturally, the sky is not falling. But we have to be honest: the mission force is not engaging.”

Joby Martin


“The gospel is clear, and if what you are preaching isn’t clear, then it is not the gospel.”

“We can no longer assume that people believe there is sin. They don’t. People don’t believe they’re sinful, because their kindergarten teacher told them they’re a rainbow. And a Skittle. Or whatever. But they’re not.”

“There are a lot of smart people these days telling us that we need to stop saying, ‘The Bible says…’ They tell us that no one will listen to us if we say that. But we have to help people understand that the Word of God is authoritative, that it is not just true but also trustworthy.”

“A lot of our preaching is packaged as ‘tips for a better life.’ People used to want that. More and more, though, we can’t assume anymore that people actually want tips for a better life.”

“If you are more concerned about politics than saving souls, then you may be a citizen of the wrong kingdom.”

“From the beginning, the gospel has been heralded not in the power centers but in the fringes.”

“When you are preaching the Word of God, they do not need more information. They need a divine revelation.”

“When you are centered on the gospel, the next thing you do is send people out to proclaim that message to the world.”

“The message of the gospel is at odds with cultural Christianity.”

“There’s no such thing as a good Christian. There’s only dead and alive.”

“Our world is changing. But God’s still got the whole world in his hands.”

“Pastors, listen to your wife. Nobody loves you more, knows you better, and is less impressed by you.”