I'm stealing the following from Ed Stetzer at his blog over at Resurgence. He has a lot more to say, but this is what caught my attention today.

We have to both contend and contextualize. This brings a balanced focus in our proclamation and practice. When we contend for the gospel, we remain biblically faithful. When we contextualize, we communicate the message effectively. When we contend and contextualize, our churches are biblically faithful, culturally relevant, counter culture communities.

Those who preach against culture are often unaware that they live in one. But the dynamic culture around them is often not the culture of their church. What they yearn for is typically not a scriptural culture, but rather a nostalgic religious culture of days past. The irony of this is that every church is culturally relevant. It is simply a matter of whether the culture of the church is in any way similar to the culture of its community or only meaningful to itself.

Contextualizing does not mean that your church needs to look like Northpoint (Atlanta) or Mosaic (LA). It may mean something very different, and a culturally relevant church in your community may look very different from culturally relevant churches in other communities. Yet, many of us miss that. Why? Because too many leaders pastor their churches in their heads and not in their communities. But the truth is, if you can't pastor the people God has given you (not the ones He's given Andy Stanley or Erwin McManus), then you don't love them. John Knox said, "Give me Scotland or I die." He had a passion for the people of Scotland. We need to have the same passion for the people where we are, and to love them and their culture (though parts of every culture should make you uneasy and call for a biblical critique—see Acts 17 and my message from The Resurgence conference).

The alternative to this kind of passion is "community lust" and "demographic envy." Lots of pastors are lusting for someone else's community. They want a church that is culturally relevant to Los Angeles, Seattle, or New York even though they live in Des Moines, Iowa. But that's not the answer.

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