Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Death By Suburb

As a staff, we are all reading different books about the suburbs. When we go to staff meeting today, we will each give a synopsis of what we read in our book and then we'll enter into discussion about our current suburban context. We started this last week and it was a very enlightening conversation. Our Connections Pastor Brandon Baca started doing some great research on our area and brought it to our meeting. It was amazing to hear some of the statistics he shared.

So my reading is from a book called Death By Suburb. Just seeing the cover intrigued me and I was really drawn to dive into it!

So far, I would equate it to a "light" version of the Celebration of Discipline by Foster. It's basically an exploration of how to engage in the spiritual disciplines while living in suburbia.

However, this guy really starts to shine a bright light on the veneer of suburbia. He has no problem calling a spade a spade and including himself in the mix. In fact, he sort of tells on himself the first 3 chapters. He's refreshingly vulnerable.

Here's a great quote from the book. "The suburbs tend to produce inverse spiritual cripples. Suburbia is a flat world, in which the edges are clearly defined and the mysterious ocean is rarely explored. Every decision gets planned out, like the practice of registering at retail stores for one's wedding gifts. Only tragedy truly surprises."

How true is that last statement! We're so prone to predictability in our lives. We're prone to worship safety and accomplishment. We covet the neighbor's house and cars. We compete with each other through the accomplishments of our children. It's only when tragedy comes knocking on the door that we're awakened from our slumber. I like that Goetz is trying to give some avenues for living what he calls "The Thicker Life" in our suburban context.


  1. I think the root issues in suburbia are the same as other places. They might manifest themselves differently, but they are the same. I take issue with a generalized suburban context that statistics and books give. I don't think books are the right place to look. Context is best gleaned on an individual level. Statistics and books cannot tell what specifically is going on in the hearts and minds of our neighbors. That can only come from a genuine relationship birthed out of a genuine love and interest in them. That is where context should be gleaned.
    Of course if the focus is to create a Sunday environment for a many than I guess a generalized suburban context is necessary. But I don’t think Crossbridge is interested in a broad suburban context. That can be seen that by simply looking at how we do church and who attends. Crossbridge attracts a subculture of suburbia. It is a niche. Sunday church is flawed in that way. We have a message counter to suburban culture. It can be dressed up nicely but if a church stays true to the Gospel message it will be offensive. Even within the suburban Christian context Crossbridge is a subculture. Sunday church is flawed in that way. It is limited in its reach. The message no matter how well dressed up or contextualized on Sunday is worthless unless it is carried out and modeled. There are a limited amount of people that will fit in any given building. A message is most effectively communicated through relationships. The message itself is not enough.

    Jesus gave us the model for building his church. It was not “come and see” or merely “go and evangelize”. It was “as you are going make disciples of Christ”. Those are important distinctions with great implications. Jesus’ model was His relationship with the twelve. He loved them, prayed with them, ate with them, taught them and modeled a right relationship with his Father. He knew them. He knew their lives. It’s interesting to consider how profound an effect Jesus had through his twelve as they went on and did as He taught. Jesus context for his twelve was gleaned from them.

    Churches should strike a balance between the “come and see” and the “as you are going”. It is important to recognize the limiting factors that come with 3 hours on Sunday and recognize the importance of the other 165 hours in a week.

    When does contextualization go too far? I have this scary picture in my head of the church in a couple of years. It’s plainly obvious that culture today is moving more and more away from face to face communication. We go work and communicate through email, phones and ichat. We go home and sit in front of the tube watchting movies, playing video games. We sit at our computers and blog, surf the web, play more video games, email and ichat some more. Is that the context? Because that is a troubling picture for the church. An online Ichat church. The very things that have been created to make communication more efficient and effective are destroying relationships. But that is how people communicate. Should we do the same?

  2. Timmy,
    You don't give yourself enough credit. Nick and I are always in awe when we see all the graphics, blogs and videos you make. I'm just a wannabe!!!

    You and Mel crack me up, you guys are amazing!

    Oh, since I want to be cool like you, how did you make the pictures that color?


  3. Hullo pastor,
    this is a visitor from Uganda saying God be with you.I am online teacher of bible prophecy( revelation).