Sunday, October 05, 2008

Interview with Ed Stetzer on Being Missional in the Burbs

Joe Thorn interviews Ed Stetzer about church planting and the gospel in the suburban context. Here is one of their exchanges:
What are some common mistakes churches in the suburbs make?

I think there are probably several.

First, they assume that nice shiny clean people have nice shiny clean lives. When you work in an urban context, you can sometimes see the sin and trouble with greater ease. It is better hidden in the suburbs. Thus, we think that people need sermons on how to improve their lives. They don’t. They need messages on how to be transformed by the gospel.

Second, the suburbs are community killers. Many churches make the assumption that because people have moved to a setting that has back decks instead of front porches that they don’t want community. I have found that they do — they just do not know how to seek and receive it. Life transforming suburban churches can and must lead people to deeper community even when the culture pushes against it.

Third, some pastors hate the suburbs. If you hate the suburbs, stop whining about it and move into the city. I have done both and find them both in deep need of the gospel. It is trendy to mock the suburbs — I have done it myself, calling them the “vast suburban wasteland.” Well, it may be, but everywhere is a wasteland without Jesus. So, if you are called to pastor in the suburbs, dig deep and engage its culture — look for bridges over which the gospel will travel and expose the idols that the gospel must destroy.

Read the whole thing.