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God-forsaken Suburbia

BSECEddie Arthur just posted a helpful link to J R Woodward’s primer on Missional church. Glancing through the huge list of links I came across a useful paper by Todd Hiestand called  The Gospel and the God Forsaken: The Challenge of the Missional Church in Suburbia.

Although Todd is thinking about suburbia in America I think it speaks equally well to the UK context. If you like me are facing that challenge, do read the full paper – it isn’t very long. Here’s how he summarises the challenges which the church should be bringing to life in the suburbs:

There are at least four main ways the default suburban lifestyle needs
to be challenged. First, we need to speak out against the suburban
value of extreme individualism and call Christians back to community.
Second, we need to deconstruct the value of consumerism in way that
leads instead to sacrificial living. Third we need to question the
suburban value of safety and comfort and judge it against the call of
the gospel. Finally, we need to understand how our individualism and
consumerism lead us to neglect the hurting and needy people in our
neighborhoods and cities.

And here’s a taster from the challenge to deconstruct comfort:

Uncritically accepting comfort and safety affects more than just our
personal discipleship and mission. It also has great impact on the
mission of our community. Church communities seeking to maintain and
find comfort for their members will quickly lose the mission they
started with. In his book Exiles, Michael Frost claims:

Timidity squashes our missional impulse. It causes us to
withdraw from any grand sense of purpose for fear of upsetting the
delicate balance of conflicting egos currently residing in each church.
Christians surround themselves with fellow churchgoers, so that their
church’s only goal is to maintain equilibrium. Such timidity and
anxiety leave the church as nothing more than a retreatist, frightened,
ineffective organization.

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