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For the past 5-7 years Necole and I have done our best to leave the “burbs” and live in the city. For whatever reason it just has simply not worked out. CAN YOU SAY MONEY!!!  Basically we do everything in the city. If we had our way we would live in a loft downtown, get rid of our cars, and embrace both the pro’s and con’s of city-living.

When I think about church planting, missional living and God’s redemption; it’s easy for me to see how this fits in the framework of the city. But the suburbs is just a different beast altogether.  Everything is splintered and fractured out here. Familes are so busy communting to work, going to soccer games and mowing their lawns, they have no time to really engage community, find a healthy rhythm and have a sense of belonging. Of course city-living has it’s own set of issues.

The church has responded to these issues by hoping to have a kick-butt Sunday gathering, get folks involved in a small group and pray they find practical ways to serve the church. I’m not opposed to this and I think church leaders are doing their best to find redemptive ways to restore the gospel in the burbs. But at times in seems impossible. Like we are fighting a system that is so flawed and cracked. Also, the cafes are horrible in the burbs, I mean for real-how can they lack total creativity? There is nothing worse then hanging out with a bunch of dudes in golf shirts and kacky paints as they discuss their poor golf game and and how bad their 401k accounts are doing. Can you say sarcasm-*sigh*  Of course I know God redeems all things. Even 40-something kacky pant-waring men who wear golf shirts and loafers.

The questions I have is this:

1. How can we raise up a generation of missional theologians. Not formal, but informal.  Another words how do we take suburban Christians and help them truly engage the gospel? What does it mean to look like an Acts 2 church in suburbia? Not just attend church, serve in some manner and give a check. How does one become truly missional in the midst of the cubicle, commute and crazy kids schedule.

2. How do we really reach people with the gospel.  What does transformation look like. I think growth is vital. We are all called to grow our church. You can’t share the story of Jesus and not see growth, right?

3. How do we build community? It’s got to be more then just attending a weekly Bible study. I want to do life with people on a much deeper and more natural level. My issue with small groups is this-it’s great if it’s natural; but many feel forced.

Any thoughts? Can you feel my frustration.

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13 Comments

  1. I share your frustrations about the suburbs and I just finished reading this book called “Death by Suburb.” It was a huge help for me and the author, David Goetz, did a great job at clarifying and defining our role as Christians in the ‘burbs… its also pretty funny at times. I highly recommend it if you haven’t already picked it up!

  2. You should check out the book Death by Suburb, it could help a lot, especially while you are in your uncomfortable place. Remember some day the suburbs might be the cool place, needing help. I do realize certain people are made for the city, consider Nehemiah when he was rebuiding the wall, each group of Jews gave up a tithe of their people to help. What would happen if alll the burb churches gave 10% of people to go back into the city? Crazy thought…

  3. So let me get this straight. City=Cool… Suburbs=Lame.

    Really? Tell me one thing… why are you planting a church in the uncool suburbs if city life is what you feel called to? I’ve heard so many people bash the suburbs and guess where most of them live? Guess where most of them do life? Guess where most of them end up planting churches? Hmmmmm… The suburbs. If you are called to the city… plant in the city. If that is where you do life… where you live… then that is where you should plant. God will provide if he’s called you. Get out of the suburbs… the city needs you. If you are called to the suburbs… plant in the suburbs. The suburbs need committed leaders to plant effective churches too! But do all of us one favor. Stop bashing one or the other, and mask it with concern for the city. Seriously.

    So seek to answer questions 1-3 but do it in a way that doesn’t act like the suburbs are evil, lame, and just down right uncool. Are we really that shallow? Jesus came to redeem “the world”. All of it. It’s time to start thinking about this and stop pitting the burbs against the city and vice versa. Plant a church. Tell someone about Jesus. Serve in Christ’s name. Wherever you are and wherever God has called you.

    Sorry… I’m a little bit passionate about this subject. Keep wrestling with it.

  4. Wow Mark, thanks for telling me what to do. Also, it’s hard to wrestle with something if you can’t converse about it, right.

    1. Suburbs are not lame to those who enjoy it. I just struggle with it. I don’t think I was bashing the burbs. Hence my comment on sarcasm 🙂
    2. I’m planting a church in the “burbs” because I may plant another church in the city 🙂
    3. The city has it’s own “lameness” that may be worse then the burbs.
    4. Paul desired to go to Rome-But he needed to wait and be obedient. Timing is essential.
    5. I hurt for many people in the burbs as they struggle with “crowded loneliness.”
    6. God loves the burbs as much as the city.
    7. I will get frustrated in the city like I will be frustrated in teh burbs.
    8. The unfortunate thing about blogging is the fact that you can
    t throughly define all these issues in one post.

    Thanks for dropping by the blog. Shalom!

  5. Sorry if it came on a little strong. Not trying to tell anyone what to do. Just making an observation. Feel free to call… I believe Mangum has my number.

  6. No worries…Passion is a good thing. And I do love the “burbs” I just get so frustrated with trying to bring the gospel to this environment. I think it’s a tall and noble task that is extremely complexed.

  7. Agreed!

  8. Um, you’re gonna have a hard time “bringing the gospel to this environment” if you think that “there is nothing worse then hanging out with a bunch of dudes in golf shirts and kacky paints as they discuss their poor golf game and and how bad their 401k accounts are doing. Can you say sarcasm-*sigh* Of course I know God redeems all things. Even 40-something kacky pant-waring men who wear golf shirts and loafers.” I think when Ed Stetzer said that preaching against culture is like preaching against someone’s house, he wasn’t just talking to traditional pastors criticizing Coldplay.

  9. Ah Tom, You took the post way to serious-it was somewhat a joke. Also I did not say I don’t love those people. Also, why not focus on the key issue-the 3 questions. We pastor take ourselves way too serious 🙂

  10. Definitely I agree that the city vs. the ‘burbs mentality completely misses the point.

    First, as parents we’ve all heard that our kids will do what we do, not what we say. I think that is true in the church. The church will do what they see leadership do. Not what they hear preached from the pulpit on Sunday morning or download into their iPod, but what they SEE. So the key is raising up leaders who are REAL, transparent, and are serving beyond their church walls/small groups/Bible studies, etc.

    Second, I’m amazed at how I’ve gotten to impact non-believers because of those soccer games that I attend. Here’s a newsflash: those other parents need Christ and I hope that in some way they can catch a glimpse of Him through me and through my hubby who coaches. And, I’m a pretty out-going type and love to frequent said ‘uncreative cafes’ and strike up conversations with whoever. I’ve been known to surprise the person behind me with a free drink of their choice. When asked why, I usually respond that I felt like they just deserved a blessing today. Nothing more nothing less. And, my suburban home is the second home for many a kid on my block. Our house seems to be the happenin’ elementary kid hang-out. Of all the kids only one has parents who are involved in church and have a strong testament of faith. And most of their parents are working so hard to maintain a lifestyle that there is little family-time. I feel very blessed that God has provided for us to live somewhere that we shouldn’t be able to afford (yet we do through His provision) and I get to impact these chidlren’s lives. . So, I pray that in some way when they’re in my home they feel the peace that surpasses all understanding. I also pray for extra doses of patience with said kiddos, as sometimes my house is a little loud.

    Lastly, I agree that some small groups seem forced. However, my closest friends are those who I did small group with for three years. It takes time to build small groups that are REAL. It takes people comitted to being transparent and vulnerable. It takes people comitted to loving one another and speaking truth in love. It takes people who are willing to say what no one else is willing to say at times.

    It’s late and I’m operating on very little sleep as I scrapbooked in the ‘burbs from 6p-6a (where I got to talk to women about everything marriage, faith, kiddos), so I hope everything seemed coherent. Keep striving for the balance in your life and discovering the path God has marked out for you. No matter where He plants you it truly is an adventure that needs His guidance every step of the way.

  11. Renee,

    I agree..It’s the beauty of the gospel. God redeems all things and all people and uses the normal daily activities to do that.

  12. Maybe you should check on the definitions of snide and sarcasm. You classified people by what they wear, their hobbies and income level. Godly? I think not.

  13. Alison,

    I guess you did not read the entire post. Such as my comments below:

    “Can you say sarcasm-*sigh* Of course I know God redeems all things.”

    Relax and laugh a little.


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