Does the Church Have a Future in Montgomery, Alabama?

Of course, the immediate answer is yes. But, I am asking the same question I asked about a year and a half ago in this post:  http://www.downshoredrift.com/downshoredrift/2009/07/can-the-christian-church-help-montgomery-alabama.html.

Not much has changed in Montgomery in a year and a half except that more people have moved to bedroom communities and more Christians have congregated in megachurches. It will be interesting to see what the new census numbers reveal about regional migration. White flight and middle class flight continue to take hold in Montgomery and Christians continue to run away to nice, safe, secure environments. I really wonder about this. Jesus didn't run away to environs that were safe for Him. He ran straight into a deadly situation out of love for us. Yet, we continue to run away from problems in our community and make decisions based on "what's best for us and our family."  Is that a Christian response to the problems in our neighborhoods, our schools, and our community?  If there is crime in a neighborhood, where is the church?  Can't we run in and address it?  If there is family breakdown, fatherlessness, and hopelessness, shouldn't the church be there?

Anyway, read the post above, if you like. It was written last year, but is still pertinent for today. I think that the days are urgent and we have a generation that will be lost if we don't engage them with the gospel.  If the church does have a future, it will be a future of missional engagement instead of entrenchment for our own safety and security.

In a follow up post on White Flight/Middle Class Flight, I said this:  "we should not just cede other people to the enemy without collective engagement."  It is hard to take the gospel to people who are set against it. It requires sacrifice – maybe even our lives. But, isn't that what we're called to? Where does the church call for that?  Scripture does – but, do we?

Alan Hirsch has a great message on the need for the church to be a community of missional engagement with the powers of darkness. I posted it on Facebook the other day.  Check it out:

 

3 Responses to Does the Church Have a Future in Montgomery, Alabama?

  1. The Jonah generation
    If Christ lives in our hearts, in our doctrine, and in our church services then we can pretty well go wherever we want and fantasize about sending chunks of Christian love to distant people. We can safely bypass the victim on the road and leave him to some good Samaritan.
    But maybe our concern ought not be about Christians fleeing the city–but about Christians fleeing Jesus.
    Do you want Christians staying in Montgomery if they do not acknowledge a call to Montgomery? Do you want Christians moving to Auburn if they do not hear a call to go there?

  2. The problem is that we leave it up to everyone to hear an individual “call” that seems to be rather devoid of the impetus of Scripture and an awareness of where real need exists. Most of the time when I hear about someone’s personal “call” it tends to send them somewhere where they end up pretty comfortable in their lifestyle.
    I guess I’d like to hear a little more about duty and obedience to the mandates of Scripture when it comes to reclaiming our cities than about everyone’s personal call. I’m not opposed to that by any means and I don’t claim to be the Holy Spirit, but I am trying to figure out where the call fits in with the community and brokenness and being salt and light in difficult places.

  3. Alan, have you read The Callings: The Gospel in the World by Paul Helm? I highly recommend it. I know this is tangental to your original post, but I wanted to follow up on your comment above.
    I agree with you entirely that truly biblical callings never send us where we can be comfortable in loveless idolatry, but only in the Comforter.
    I suppose I’m concerned about pastors calling everyone else to become preachers and pastors and missionaries, much like they are called (not that you’re doing this, Alan). Sometimes I think that out of zeal for their unique calling, pastors burden others with (extra-biblical) guilt for not doing the work of a pastor as their primary work. Certainly every Christian is to preach, pastor, and be on mission, but I would say this takes place primarily through their particular callings: salesmen, doctors, construction workers, businessmen, lawyers, farmers, teachers, truck drivers, politicians, etc.
    America’s self-centered ethic says we work vocationally for money and power so that we may obtain status and personal gratification. But, biblically, we should work in our callings, whatever they may be, out of love to God and love for men, to serve others and benefit them, to sacrifice ourselves for them, as Christ has done for us. If this is our motive, then we wouldn’t work in our callings for comfort in idols, but for the good of others and the glory of God.
    Not that you’re saying this, but if *everyone’s* *primary* focus was on preaching, pastoring, and missions (narrowly defined), then wouldn’t we be failing to subdue the whole earth and to do what God has uniquely made each of us to do? “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Cor 7:17); whether married or unmarried, married to a believer or not, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, what matters is “keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called” (v. 19-20). “Aspire to live quietly and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we have instructed you” (1 Thess 4:11). Is it wrong to understand as “mission” the faithful presence and proclamation of a shoemaker, whose primary occupation is making excellent shoes at a just price because that’s what God made him able to do well?
    I enjoy your blog posts and your heart for the community! Please keep it coming! : )