Place: New York City. Time: 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning. It’s fair to say that many, if not most, of the inhabitants of Manhattan-mostly single, professional, well educated and young-are sleeping it off somewhere. Half of America has roused itself by now and is heading off to church, but in the city that never sleeps, the Sabbath is a time for slumber.
There’s an exception. On a sun-splashed corner near Central Park a churchlike building is filled to the rafters with Christian worshipers. By 9:15, the room is at capacity. By 9:20, even the balcony is full. There’s nothing sexy here. There’s no rock band, no drop-down theater-size video screen, no 100-member gospel choir-just a few chamber musicians and a couple of prayer leaders to help the congregation along in its hymns. The crowd at Redeemer Presbyterian is overwhelmingly young, single, professional and-for lack of a better word-sober.
Don’t let your mind drift, or you will miss the main attraction. At 9:40, the voice you hear reading from the Scriptures changes suddenly; it becomes deeper, more authoritative and coarser, with traces of Pennsylvania and Georgia in the vowels. Look up. The callow junior minister has disappeared. Standing at the microphone is a man more than six feet tall with a shiny bald head and wire-rim spectacles, looking more like a college professor than a megachurch pastor. This is the Rev. Tim Keller, a Manhattan institution, one of those open urban secrets, like your favorite dim sum place, with a following so ardent and so fast-growing that he has never thought to advertise. He rarely speaks to the press.

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