For the City
There are four postures that churches take toward their society and populations: 1) IN the city. Just a location. 2) AGAINST the city. An US vs. THEM mentality. 3) OF the city. There’s no godly distinctives at all. 4) FOR the city. A model of engagement where church seeks to speak the truth and bring transformation to its region.
So say Matt Carter and Darrin Patrick in their book entitled For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel. This was one of my Exponential Conference book takeaways and it was on my summer reading list. It’s a short book but packed with ideas and the kind of ideas that’s shaping how church will look for the next generation. In the book, these two young leaders tell the story of the growing churches which they planted (Austin Stone in Austin, TX and The Journey in St. Louis) and how they are transitioning them to be focused on being FOR their respective cities. Lot of great ideas here, including one that we’ve picked up in our region of partnering with local non-profits and starting new non-profits to meet the practical needs in the city. Well worth reading. Here’s a few of my favorite quotes:
- We are on dangerous ground when we seek to define the worth of a church by how it meets our felt needs.
- A great church, a healthy church, is one in which Jesus Christ is found in word and deed.
- A God-honoring, gospel-loving church is one where the Word of God is the primary motivator for doing the work of God.
- the church does not exist to fix problems. Instead, the church is to carry the burdens of the world to Jesus.
- the most effective way to know God more intimately is to be in deep relationships with other Christians who are also seeking to know God intimately.
- The common temptation in the American church is to neglect the world in order to protect the church…yielding to this temptation results in a bunch of Christian who, instead of being bought in – loving and serving their neighbors – are mostly checked out from their neighborhoods, closing themselves up in a sanctuary several hours a week rather than opening their home to share dinner with unbelievers who live right next door.
- …if you are not currently in a relationship with a drunk, a prostitute, a beggar, an outcast, or a modern social equivalent to one of these people, you are not wholeheartedly following Jesus.
- …true, biblical community is so rare. And even rarer is a Christian community that sets its focus on the welfare of its city and not just the welfare of its church.
- We want to tear down the false teaching that has crept into our churches that church is all about checking an attendance box and eating out after service on Sundays
- Church is a group of radically changed people infiltrating the world and propelled to love others at great cost to themselves, all empowered by the simple message of the gospel.
- The church in the west has drawn people into the church, but it has done a poor job of sending them back out into the messy world.
- the notion that God will not put on us more than we can handle is unbiblical. God always calls us to do more than we can handle, and he does this in order to bring us back to him as the source of our strength and power.