Tag Archives: suburbs

The Church’s role in Suburbia

It could possibly be over a year ago, I asked readers to give me some topics to write on and this was one of the ones that was brought up. I started a draft with just the title and that’s as far as I got until now. Rather then just delete it I figured it’s time to dig in a share my brief thoughts.

I know the person asking this didn’t intend this, but I think I initially have to say the churches role in Suburbia is to be the same as it’s role everywhere, and that is to make the good news of Jesus known to all people. So the role in Suburbia is the same as in the inner city, the war zone, the church buildings, the workplace, the brothel, the senate, the sweatshop, and in the family. So, if we are going to ask about the Suburbs we need to ask about these other places as well, but you can do that within your own church. on to Suburbia…

Let me start with what I do not think the churches role is, because I think it will get to the heart of what is inherent in this question for many people. I think we’ve started asking these sorts of questions about certain places, activities, and lifestyles in order to justify those things. So, by asking and answering the question of “The churches role in Suburbia” we might automatically acknowledge that it is an okay lifestyle and place in which to dwell for a Christian. A Wealthy CEO with a membership to a country club begins to ask, “what is my role as a Christian in this country club” and inevitably the answer will make the assumption that they should continue to be a member of the country club. The church wouldn’t allow the same question to be asked and answered of a drug dealer in a crack house, we would instead acknowledge that the answer must include that they stop dealing drugs. I hope that made some sense.

So, and I’m going to be bold about this, I don’t think the churches role in Suburbia is to live the lifestyle of suburbia and from there have a role of influence (wait though, I’m not saying you can’t live there). I would argue that the church, made of many individuals and families would do much better moving in geographical proximity to those in physical need (which is not in the suburbs), but that is a whole other topic. For now, let’s assume you are living in suburbia. I think our role as the church is to share the good news of Jesus with our neighbors. And before you think I’m talking about the Romans Road sharing the gospel let me clarify.

Suburbia is full of all the things the world tells us will satisfy our souls. White picket fences, SUVs, makeup and fitness machines, electric can openers and pretty pets, big plasma tv’s and our very own swing sets. If your living in suburbia with all this stuff, and your telling your neighbor it’s really Jesus who satisfies you, let me just say it’s going to be a confusing message.

A vision for the church in Suburbia:
Keep your house… for now. Sell all your unnecessary possessions, or even give them away to your neighbors. Tell them they can have those things because they will not truly be satisfied by the stuff, that only Jesus can satisfy. Take the extra money and give it to the poor. In fact, go out and bring the poor to your house for a big banquet. Sell your trendy car and buy a cheaper one with cash, that gets you from A to B. Take the extra cash flow and start sponsoring a child, take in a foster child, donate to the women’s shelter. Pay off your house in a year or two, because the debtor is slave to the lender. Find a church made up of people that look different then you and who worship in a way that might not be the most comfortable for you, you’ll likely have to drive a ways to find this place. Shed your life of anything that might confuse your neighbors, so that when they so your joyous, selfless life, the only thing they can acknowledge as the source of truth in your life is Jesus Christ.