I live in the suburbs.
It’s a pretty good place to live. I am two miles from the office. I have house and a yard. I mow the grass on Saturdays (actually, my kid usually mows it) and I water it on Wednesdays and Sundays. The mail is delivered right to the little box at the end of my driveway, by the sidewalk. I haven’t been downtown in over a month and I don’t miss it.
The suburbs get a bad rap. Some say they are “sprawling” and need to be contained. Others say they are too private, narcissistic and consumer driven. Maybe that is all true.
It doesn’t matter. We had better figure out to do ministry in the suburbs: half of all Americans live in them.
World magazine’s Anthony Bradley calls Platt, Piper, and Chan to task for championing a more “missional” way of life. Why? They are supposedly the anti-suburbanites (I am not sure I agree with Bradley’s take, but it reveals some of the ideas behind suburban slander). Eric Erickson (who I really appreciate as an outspoken evangelical) wrote about suburban angst over at Red State. Stanley Kurtz has written extensively about the Obama administration’s war on the suburbs. Why all this suburban hate? Where is the suburban love?
Certainly, megachurches have done well in the suburbs. One of my hopes is that our little house church network will begin to crack the hard shell of the suburbanite. In the fall, our network will be hosting a one day event focused on suburban outreach. It should be good!
Me? I enjoy living in the suburbs. I can’t be all wrong on this: so do most Americans. The suburbs are the current front runner in the “best places to live – vote with your feet” competition. And we need to figure out how to minister effectively to people who live in suburbs. I find it rather amusing that almost all seminaries have an “urban ministry” track but I have never heard of one offering a “suburban ministry” track. I guess it’s not sexy enough.
But the suburbs are where the people live. And where people live is where mission lives.