Dluxe's World

Tuesday, December 5

Thinking Suburban-ly

This past weekend, a conversation with a friend shifted the mental focus of my 'Two Year Plan (R)(c)' away from thinking of urban area church planting to our own backyard. Needless to say, this got me thinking...

While there are tons of writings out there on approaching urban centers as mission fields, there's not as much material on reaching rural or suburban America. Or, perhaps more correctly stated, such material is not nearly as prominent. I did come across this set of articles [Part One, Two, and Three] by Hamo at Backyard Missionary. I thought they might spur some conversation... What are the unique challenges of ministering to people in a suburban context, and how do we rise to meet them?

I think one overarching challenge, that's been discussed here before, is the need for us to have a deeper, more 'native' understanding of the Gospel than was needed in the past. To reach a postmodern, fragmented culture, I think that each of us needs to deepen our understanding (theologically-speaking) of the Gospel. Everyone is a closet philospher nowadays, and we need to be able to respond to the questions of the person we're trying to reach. I don't mean we need to know all the answers, but we need to have a framework for our faith in which we can process questions and find answers.

In addition, I think it's key that we be able to show how the Gospel is relevant to our day-to-day, existential struggle. Not only must we be armed with a more robust rational defense of faith, we have to be able to show how that makes a difference for the better (eternally and now). Our culture is extremely anti-hypocrisy and can smell empty words a mile away. If what we preach really doesn't impact our lives, we'll be tuned out quickly. Likewise, if we can't tell/show people how "the narrative lines of their life will only find resolution" (Keller) in Christ why should they shed the things they know?

Please understand, I'm not trying to imply that God is not mighty to save in spite of any of these obstacles. God's spirit can regenerate someone whether or not my 'presentation' is good. What I am saying is that we should honor our Savior by preaching to His people effectively.

While these challenges are not unique to suburbia, I think that decentralization is. Sense of community in any context seems to be fragmenting in our day, and this seems especially true of suburban communities. We live here, but work, shop, or play elsewhere. There's no convocations or centralizing activities (or at least fewer of them) that work to glue us together. We follow national/state politics, but not town meetings... We go to the town festival, but talk to the same people we've always talked to. Very isolationist.

So, I think Hamo is right in that just being there is the first step and that must be supplemented by seeking a way to forge vital personal relationships...

Ok, this has turned into a rant, for sure... Thoughts anyone?



  • In some ways being a witness to my neighbors is like being a witness to my [extended] family members. It's more intimidating than talking to complete strangers about Christ because these people will be here every day. If they develop an opinion about me that is negative, I will have to bear the consequences of that. In that sense, my fear of man is affecting how much I talk about Jesus.

    That's completely wrong, and is rooted, I think, in my pride. If anyone feels inclined to pray for me, that's a great way to start...for my pride/fear to die a quick and easy death. (Pride doesn't generally die easily, though.)

    I agree with what Hamo (is that really his name?) puts forth as ingredients for evangelism in community. I can see it being played out in our life here "On the Terrace". The times we've taken the chance to talk about CHrist have been because we've had the other factors working for us in that relationship.

    By Blogger Eva, at 9:39 AM, December 06, 2006  

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