A Tale of Two Cities

In 2014, After nearly 6 months of discovering the Twin Cities as a church planter, I recall driving home thinking:

“What am I doing here.”

Two worlds were colliding, and here are some thoughts from that collision.

World #1

The picture painted for me regarding the Twin Cities was like something out of Mad Max’s Thunder Dome. A lost and hopeless city full of witches, gays, and stoic indifference. I had my water gun full and ready to charge the gates of Hell.

World #2

The picture I was discovering was drastically different. Meeting after meeting revealed another layer of amazing Christ-centered work that was being done in the city.

I wrestled for some time with this tension, and here are some thoughts from that.

1 — Be honest

Honestly, I hear this Mad Max story too often. We have to stop this. We have to stop provoking people into scenarios by appealing to the narcissistic self-centered superhero inside of them. You want to charge Hell with a squirt gun? I’m there, but I’m not going to run past those faithfully soaking the city with high-caliber firehoses. That’s absurd, dishonest, unfaithful, disobedient, and arrogant.

2 — Be cooperative

I’m growing in this area. I have a witty combination of sound theology, skepticism, and real life under my belt, so I have to work toward cooperation and unity. We cannot roll into a city with a “Sweep the leg, Johnny” mentality.

3 — Be submissive

One of the leadership voices for me is a guy that has been there and done that. He’s seen it, heard it, and said it. He loves the city more than I do. He probably loves the Lord more than I do. He shoots straight with me and allows for little BS. He keeps me honest. We need the rhythmic authority of and submission developed within the holy tension of community. This isn’t simply something we experience in church or community groups, this is a reality reverberating throughout the kingdom.

A tale of two Cities

I quickly noticed that everyone had the same story about the city they served in. If I heard “per-capita” once, I heard it a thousand times. I recall being super aggravated over a city getting credit for lostness and people groups that “we deserved” credit for. This is absurd, I thought. There’s simply no way this is pleasing to the Lord. I felt like a soccer mom with a rear decal that read, “Proud resident of the worst city on earth.” Ironically, I couldn’t speak this way to people who lived in the city. It was completely foreign and rather offensive, and the longer I lived here, it began offending me too. A tale of two cities emerged, but it wasn’t true. At least not separately. There’s only one city and one story with different parts. We have to love our cities enough to tell the whole story and we can only know the whole story if we love the Kingdom enough to work through the tension of kingdom community.

The beauty of community is the holy tension it creates. 

The question isn’t, “Why am I here.” The question is “Why are WE here.” Asking it this way assumes a calling and seeks for a gap to fill or a beam to support. There are likely no metros in North America where you are going to do something cutting edge or unique. We shouldn’t be aggravated by that, we should be encouraged to play our part.

BY JOSHUA WHETSTINE – NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD CITY MISSIONARY FOR MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL. 

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