This week's honor goes to Tim Keller from a Resurgence Leadership re-podcast (#017-18 May 20, 2014) speaking at a 2006 Resurgence event in Seattle for church planters."Being the Church in Culture (Parts 1 & 2)"
Keller makes the point that Christianity has lost its influence on culture because it is predominantly the educated and affluent in major cities that drive the culture and Christians abandoned the cities for the suburbs long ago. He encourages Christians to move en masse to the cities, establish community, demonstrate faith through work (ie: get a job!), and live out the Gospel as a community. He talks about how he constantly has to exhort members of his church in NYC not to leave the city, but to stay as long as they can.
In Part 2, Keller gives a brief theology of work (check out my review of his book on the subject).He notes that in seminary pastors are trained in how to get people out of their jobs and into ministry and pastoral roles, which simply extracts them from their spheres of influence and removes them from the culture. He recommends doing the opposite, empowering people to more greatly engage their workplaces and to work as God is working. He encourages Christians to take normal positions in their communities-- instead of seeking power as they normally do. (I wish Southern Baptists would heed Keller's message.)
This has long been my take on things, and a major reason why we enjoyed living in a major world city near other Christians living in community in 2012. Cities are awesome and I spend much time on how it is that I just bought a typical American house in a small town with a 30 minute commute to my workplace (I'll have to write a post reconciling this decision with my "market urbanist" label). But the house is not isolated, it's located amidst many other houses with plenty of interaction with people different than myself. So, I feel it's possible to live out Keller's in-community vision even in small communities.
Enjoy Keller's talk!