Missional flattery and selfishness...

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(Tim) Yesterday, a friend sent me a satirical piece his son and

several friends had written about a bunch of new city church plants with

names like Elevation Church, Dust, The Line, Infusion Church, and

Austin City Life (see Howard Davis' comment, below). He commented, "What is really amazing is their unique

web sites all look alike (and) I bet all their unique worship services

are the same. And... they're all about being in the 'city.'"


reading many city

church web sites, it's clear such churches normally aren't missional if missional means faithfulness to Jesus' Great Commission commands. Most indicate no practice of rebuke, preaching God's Law, or calls to repentance. Instead, they prattle on about being "for the city" and they're positively chipper.

It's all about seeking common ground with

unbelievers. And if they mention God's perfections, it's only those

perfections that would be likely to make unbelievers feel good about

themselves and think God might not be so high and mighty and scary

after all. Christian faith and the Church are presenting as uniting believers

and unbelievers in the same brotherhood and sisterhood of man in and for the city. Convicting the world of sin and righteousness and judgment is out and assuring the world of our goodwill toward them in God's Name is in.

Reading Augustine's City of God

earlier today, I came across this excerpt. Augustine knew something about preaching the Gospel in the city and contextualizing the Lordship of Jesus Christ to urbane men and women world-weary in a decadent


For every man, however laudably he lives, yet

yields in some points to the lust of the flesh. Though he do not

fall into gross enormity of wickedness, and abandoned viciousness,

and abominable profanity, yet he slips into some sins, either

rarely or so much the more frequently as the sins seem of less

account. But not to mention this, where can we readily find a man

who holds in fit and just estimation those persons on account of

whose revolting pride, luxury, and avarice, and cursed iniquities

and impiety, God now smites the earth as His predictions

threatened? Where is the man who lives with them in the style in

which it becomes us to live with them? For often we wickedly

blind ourselves to the occasions of teaching and admonishing them,

sometimes even of reprimanding and chiding them, either because we

shrink from the labor or are ashamed to offend them, or because we

fear to lose good friendships, lest this should stand in the way of

our advancement, or injure us in some worldly matter, which either

our covetous disposition desires to obtain, or our weakness shrinks

from losing....

And although they do not fear

them to such an extent as to be drawn to the commission of like

iniquities, nay, not by any threats or violence soever; yet those

very deeds which they refuse to share in the

commission of they often decline to find fault with, when possibly

they might by finding fault prevent their commission. They

abstain from interference, because they fear that, if it fail of

good effect, their own safety or reputation may be damaged or

destroyed; not because they see that their preservation and good

name are needful, that they may be able to influence those who need

their instruction, but rather because they weakly relish the

flattery and respect of men, and fear the judgments of the people,

and the pain or death of the body; that is to say, their

non-intervention is the result of selfishness, and not of

love. (emphasis not in original)