I read several things lately that challenge and reflect my thinking on this. The first is from an interview with Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. It's posted here.
What does it mean to “reach one’s community by living culturally accessible and biblically faithful lives”?
Our theme is that Christians need to function as missionaries. They need to imbed themselves in the culture, they need to love the people there, and they need to learn the culture, understand it and serve it. So our thinking is that when it comes to missions, missionaries are not people we send overseas. We need to keep sending them overseas, but we also need to send missionaries into American cities and neighborhoods as the cities are completely lost and don’t know Jesus.
Some people feel that living in the world, in the city, can be a corrupting influence, being in the world but not of it?
I think people are sinful whether they live in the country, the suburbs, or the city. Sinners are everywhere and the city tends to have more people so they tend to have more sin. But I think that means that it’s also a great opportunity for the Gospel because people there really need Jesus. And if we don’t reach the cities we’re not going to reach the young people, the universities, the politicians, the culture makers-as the cities get more and more secular the culture gets more and more secular.