Should Christians Live In the Suburbs?

Should Christians Live In the Suburbs?

Let me start with full disclosure here; I live in the suburbs. All around me are pristine sidewalks, manicured lawns, and SUVs. I live here for what are probably the same reasons as most people. First, I am raising a family. And secondly, because I could. However, I have begun to wonder if I am just another person contributing to the problem. More so, I am wondering if I can really follow Christ in the suburbs.

White Flight

Here in America, we have a phenomenon known as “white flight.” It is the somewhat obvious fact that whenever an area starts to have problems with poverty or social integration, the solution to those with resources is to, well, leave. This “flight out of harm’s way” removes the ability for money to flow across economic and social classes, making the poor even poorer. The suburbs are an unofficial “boundary” keeping out those without the money to afford the price of entry.

Segregated Community

While there aren’t any more laws keeping us apart, we are doing a great job of it on our own. Within 10 miles of my house are FIVE megachurches with huge university-like campuses, the parking lots of which are their own satire of suburban life, looking like a SUV dealership. Within the churches, are a sea of people who look, talk, dress, and act just like me and everyone else.

Church in the City

So my first shake up was participating in a church that was in the city, which has every kind of person you can imaging. It was daunting at first, but became refreshing the more I went. Everyone has different ideas, points of views, and ways of doing things. The biggest thing we have in common is our faith, and it is the language we use to speak to each other across our cultural differences. I still struggle to go, as I am driving an hour from the suburbs to get there, but it is always worth it when I do.

Advocacy Through Residency

What really has shaken me up is meeting some people lately who have decided to take the leap back into the “less desirable” areas. They invest in renovating their homes and their local areas. They help build businesses that can create economic bridges in their community. After seeing all they have done, I have begun to wonder if living in the suburbs is little more than hiding from the real world after all.

Your Thoughts?

Please take a minute and watch this video by Shelly Landis, who is one of the people challenging me to rethink my residency. Do you think we can really follow the call of Jesus while living in our sheltered communities?

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Yaholo H

Yaholo is a practical mystic, a passionate writer, a paltry poet, and an old-school Jesus freak. You can find him at Yaholo.net or grab his book "What If Christians Grew Up?"
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  • Jeff H.

    Thanks for the great article Yaholo!

    I moved to the ‘hood’ from the suburbs last October- to do urban ministry. The principle of ‘incarnation’, is critical for us to have the greatest impact in the lives of others. That is what Messiah did for us, after all. There are many well-meaning suburban folks who come into the urban environment to do ministry, but often times it does more damage, than good. Most ministries ‘do to’ rather than ‘do with’ the poor. Those in the margins don’t need people coming to give them handouts- thereby damaging what little dignity they may have. Contrary to the American stereotype- most poor people would like a ‘handup’, NOT a ‘handout’. They need ongoing 2-way RELATIONSHIPS that will help them work out of poverty to become self-sufficient.

    Anyone with further interests in learning about the dynamics of urban ministry may want to visit: http://www.ccda.org/ – an organization that Shelley and I both belong to.

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