Church Opportunity?

Leafing through January’s Newsweek Magazine, I came across a short & interesting article titled: The Suburban Challenge, by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley.

The summary statement reads: Washington needs to recognize that many of the country’s biggest problems—and biggest opportunities—have moved beyond the city limits to the burbs.

One sentence that stuck out to me was: “Nonprofits, long focused on inner cities, need to reach out to poor families and immigrants in the suburbs.”

So in a church climate where we hear a lot about engaging the city and meeting its deep problematic needs, should that church now recognize that many of the country’s biggest problems—and biggest opportunities—have moved beyond the city limits to the burbs? (thereby adjusting its resources to address these greater needs)


~ by Dave Smith on January 31, 2009.

3 Responses to “Church Opportunity?”

  1. seems to me to be a false construct to create an either/or scenario here. or even to suggest one is greater than the other.

    what i think is true is that many churches still abandon the urban ministry setting because it’s uncomfortable. though i’m sure that they also ignore many that are impoverished in the burbs. i think the whole point should be for the church to stop only ministering to those they have affinity with and to actually break down barriers like we’re called to.

  2. JDH: I agree with you. We do tend to abandon urban settings out of fear. There is simply no doubt about that in my mind.

    Dave: I just began a year of service as an AmeriCorps member (I had no idea that’s where I’d be right now, but it’s been great so far), and I’ve been able to travel all across Michigan.

    What’s struck me is how prevalent poverty is in my home state. The urban areas like Flint and Detroit are racked by poverty and crime, and most people know that.

    But what is not common knowledge is the prevalence of poverty in rural areas. I know your post is about the ‘burbs, and I’m sure you’re right about that. But, it would be foolish of us to conclude that the only place we can engage those in poverty is the urban areas. It’s a much bigger problem than that.

    Urban areas often have a higher number of people in poverty, and perhaps even a higher percentage of the population in most cases; however, there is tremendous need in rural areas as well. There aren’t as many people living in rural areas in MI; consequently, the raw numbers of people living in poverty are not that high. But, that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.

  3. Yea, definitely agree it isn’t an either/or, and this discussion could further rationalize the escaping of the “uncomfortable city.”

    Just an interesting counter-thought to the city-trend making the “city savers” appear to be the “real hereos” (verses those in the burbs, or as Ben reminds us, withing the rural communities.)

    In taking on the values mentioned by Joel (breaking culture barriers) and address the poverty issues we are best gifted and suited to tackle…it can take any of us in various and worthy directions.

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