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4 Reasons Suburban churches should stay out of the city

I’ve heard that several prominent suburban churches in Minnesota announcing plans to open locations downtown. As an urban dweller – who is also a missionary and student of the church – I thought I’d share some major reservations about this development. At the core this is an issue of culture and world view.

A mentor taught me about the natural reach every minister has. Someone needs to be able to identify with the Pastor and/or staff of a church. It’s that identification that helps them enter into a transformative pastoral relationship. He spoke of the limit of age, and I believe this extends to culture & world view. Few foreign language churches impact outside of their linguistic group. Each of those churches is an important part of Gods work in the world. Yet, it would be unrealistic to expect a non-native church to impact beyond those who are within its cultural purview. We can express frustration about this, but there are only a few examples to the contrary. Even Jesus was intentional about limiting the scope of his ministry – with only a few exceptions.

We have many biblical examples of people leading their own (David, Jesus, Peter, and more). We also have examples of people leaving their culture to lead others (Moses, Paul, and countless missionaries over the millennium). Underlying these 4 issues is my concern that this cultural divide is all too easily overlooked.

I believe there are 4 major issues separating urban from suburban.

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Your Church can’t become Missional

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Missional is not another word for outreach, it is not a program you add, and it is not something you choose people to do. It is the ethos of a community.

A driving force of a missional church is the belief that God has gone before them, is present, active, and inviting the church into what He is already doing. God doesn’t follow us. Instead our attentiveness leads us into what He is doing and prepares us to be present in what He is doing the lives of others.

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Whenever SNL does a short it is going to be over the top satire. That is their style, and they have done a really good job with it over the last couple years. Last weekend they unveiled a new short (embedded below) called Djesus Unchained. It showed a vengeful Jesus who has raised from the dead, killing as many romans as possible.

The humor here comes from how opposite this stands from the peaceful and non-violent image the gospels give us, right up to his death. The most powerful image for be took place in the garden when Peter cut the ear off the solider, and Jesus healed the main to, in my understanding, get peter off the hook for his brash action.

Yet in this short, I see so much of what many of my Christian peers believe Jesus will be like when he returns. A man who is vengeful  and full of blood lust. In this short it is easy to see how out of character it would be for God to act this way, and how it goes against so much of his own teaching.

Take 2 minutes to watch the short, and let me know what your thinking in the comments.

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My 300 words for why you need to engage on twitter + even the pope is doing it.

An interesting shift took place in the western church this past century. It is the same shift that pushed churches to the sidelines of culture and conversation in the west. We, as the leaders of the church, began to see our role more as protecting the flock than engaging the broader community (which is what I saw Jesus do in the scriptures).

With a few decades our institutions began to reflect this belief. Churches became elaborate campuses to serve ourselves from cradle to grave. This removed and disconnected us from the pulse of culture, and from the life of our neighborhoods and cities. Increasingly the church is seen as a relic of a bygone era – I believe because of this very shift.

I get it, the secularization of our communities is terrifying because of the spiritual implications for those around us. But our withdrawal says that we passively accept that God has nothing to offer modern society and culture. Jesus has a lot to offer, and longs to see the whole world transformed and reborn.

Jump into the Stream

Now the Pope has joined twitter (Pontifex though at writing has not yet tweeted). This is important because it is a visible and symbolic step back into the stream that defines and makes our culture. Social media is the new town square – both global and local. You might not be participating, but they are choosing the YouTube videos you watch, the next big musician, and are even defining how the news you hear is told.

You may have your reasons for abstaining from social media, but it is the conversation of our day. Think twice before you write it off.

Oh, and incase the pope is reading this – “Hi there Benny 16!! Pray you’re doing well today”

TL;DR

The most influential conversations happen socially online. To abstain is to forgo any opportunity to inspire the transformation of creation.

Photo Credit: Charly Morlock