The Metroevangelicals?

The Metroevangelicals? December 19, 2012

Over at WSJ, Andy Crouch has a piece on Make Way for the Metro-Evangelical, which describes the pivot by church leaders like Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll towards inner city church planting. Christianity Today even has a series of videos on them called This is our City. However, Keith Miller at Mere Orthodoxy asks, Are the Metro-Evangelicals Right? Miller comments:

Yet there is a timbre amidst all of this city-centrism that troubles me. Maybe this is because the metro-evangelicals are not counter-cultural, but rather a baptized version of New Urbanism. In a culture that idolizes living in a loft in a gentrifying art district, a church planter is not exactly bearing a cross in deciding to “rough it” under such conditions. Maybe it is that some of its advocates tell a story that previous generations fearfully abdicated the dirty, sinful cities. Thus, all this new “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” generation needs do is show up and things will get better. It’s worth noting that this mythical Evangelical abandonment never really happened and we should be more careful at imputing impure motives to previous generations of believers.

Interesting point!

Truth is that I could never be an inner city urbanite. I don’t drink coffee so I have no need for cafe’s, I loathe city traffic, and I’d always feel awkward living in an area that I know votes for Green candidates (with wonderful beliefs like infanticide and turning church buildings into government subsidized tofu restaurants).

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  • John Smuts

    Sigh. I don’t know whether it is a cultural thing or not but American commentators don’t seem to do nuance very well. Miller is right to prick the bubble of hyperbole that surrounds the emphasis on cities but all he seems to do is polarise the debate. ISTM that Keller has not got rural ministry in his sights as much as suburban ministry. Even a town of 8,000 is still an urban centre – all churches have some kind of regional centre focus. In both Australia and the UK the churches that tend to struggle are those in the inner-city (with a few notable exceptions of those in wealthy urban enclaves in the city) and in rural areas. While it is true that some churches are simply worshipping the idol of secular urban culture it is equally true that most Christians simply worship the suburban dream (for an Aussie – it comes with a big backyard). I’m not convinced by Miller’s take on the diaspora either – he dodged the issue of why all the synagogues were in urban centres in the first place! Still, I love coffee, thrive on traffic and live in an area where everyone votes Green 🙂

    • Insulting people who don’t want to live their life behind the windshield of a car isn’t the way to make a point.

  • chris wiedeman

    I agree with Mr. Schwartz, your depiction of city life leaves out most of the people who live here in downtown Cincinnati. I think one of the big reasons people are moving back to the cities is that Suburban life ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. If your not a farmer there’s no need to have acres of grass and a house with more rooms than one has family members. In the city I have no lawn to mow, large numbers for friends to unexpectedly stumble upon while out enjoying myself or just going to and fro. It’s partially about living better with less. Experience is better than “stuff” we will those MC-Mansions with.