Commenting on the decline of the mainline, Kevin DeYoung suggests it their “Oh, please, approve of me” message, which makes a poor substitute for the gospel.
I tend to agree. You can't make a difference in the world if you're no different from the world. But the obvious question is, "Well, what then do we make of missional contextualization?" Is it just glorified approval seeking?
I say no, but I would support that by arguing that there are two sides to missional contextualization: that of being in the world, but not of the world. The “Oh, please, approve of me” message is what happens when you only take notice of the first half of that Jesus equation and forget the second. What mainline churches are doing when they chase after approval for approval's sake is not genuine contextualization.