Planting Urban Churches, Part 2

Read Part 1.

Cultural accommodation is a genuine danger in planting churches. However, a real problem is the one-sided perspective that many have of accommodation. Usually the accommodation is seen rightly (Rom. 12:2) but narrowly only toward the world, caving in to worldly culture in dress, music, and questionable practices and associations. Frequently forgotten is the cultural accommodation toward Christians, generally well-meaning but misguided, who have a truncated view of the Christian life and seek to impose discipleship as they’ve known and experienced it as normative for all believers. Thus, there are twin dangers of cultural accommodation: 1) Accommodating or catering to the unchurched in designing worship from a seeker-driven mentality; 2) Accommodating or catering to the churched who come to the new church plant with their preferences paraded mistakenly for biblical convictions.

A recent article on urban church planting elicited mixed responses for which I’m mostly glad. I appreciate it when others point out weaknesses or would like more clarification. Since I’m not a blogger I don’t have a cadre of lapdogs to pat me on the back and cheer me on as seems to be the case with select blogs. A few people, in reading between the lines, may have understood my encouraging the removal of barriers to the gospel in thinking that doing so would allow people to more easily accept the gospel message. I’m all for getting rid of unnecessary barriers which prevent people from hearing the gospel. But there was no suggestion that getting rid of pews, ties, and changing the music will bring more people to Christ.

Nonetheless, I must maintain that I have no problem with an established church which desires biblical transformation or new churches started with a different model. Pew or chairs; Sunday best , business casual or jeans; morning and evening service or morning only; small groups or Wednesday evening prayer meeting—you may find biblical allowance, but you will not find biblical warrant for all your choices. What slightly amazes me is that many seem to care so much about churches where they have no voice of influence, only criticism.

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All You Need is Love, but...

Article first appeared on SI November 20, 2006

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
-Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 22:37–39, KJV)

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
-The Beatles (“All You Need Is Love”) 1

Were John, Paul, George, and Ringo, 1900 years after Jesus of Nazareth, reiterating His message to a new generation? Is this similarity evidence that the same basic message underlies all world religions and worldviews? That after we strip away all the external, all the ceremonial, all the legal, all the theological and metaphysical considerations, every religion pursues the same basic values, usually including “love”?

That all religions are basically the same is an idea held both by the man on the street and in the halls of academia. Consider what Paul Tillich wrote:

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