I really enjoyed this book. It helped explain how suburbs were developed and gave insight into why people move to suburbs. It also gave practical tips to living missionally in the suburbs. I recommend this book to anybody interested in practical missional living examples (whether you are in an urban or suburban setting). Like I said, this book is available. If you want it, let me know and I will give it to you the next time I see you.
Hsu asks what would it look like if Christians got together and decided to move to an area and minister to it without worrying about their jobs. Instead of the job being the lead factor, how about having the community be the decisive factor? That might also cut down on transience. Usually people relocate because they get a better job offer, so they uproot themselves and figure they can start over and find new friends, churches and ministries elsewhere. What would it look like if we prioritize the friends, churches and ministries we now have rather than the jobs that would take us away from them? Choose your community, live there, work there, worship there and minister there. Some of us need to hear the call not to go but rather to stay. Frequent moves diminish our ability to have established, credible witness in a community. Don’t think in terms of just the next year or two but the next five, ten or twenty.
Consider the possibility of sensing God’s calling for a particular community. Sometimes a job transfer or career change requires a relocation, but if you are merely changing housing, see if you can remain in your local community for as long as possible. We are called to be good neighbors to our communities, and we can’t do that well if we are nomads and frequently uprooting ourselves.
God needs suburban Christians who are willing to take a sharp look at their environment, recognize the challenges of the suburban setting and then stay here to do something about it. No matter why you are in suburbia (whether you love it or hate it), the call is the same: Seek the welfare of the suburb you are living in. And because of the metropolitan interdependence, transforming suburbia may well transform urban and global sites both near and far.
Too many younger leaders and church planters equate suburbia with something negative. However, suburbia is as much a part of God’s global mission as any other part of the earth.
A Gospel of both Salvation and Stewardship
The gospel of salvation and deliverance is good news for the poor and oppressed. It means that God is calling them out of Egypt, out of slavery, out of sin and death. The gospel of stewardship and celebrating is good news for the well-off and secure. It means that God is calling them to be his stewards and to responsible, wise management of his good resources, so that they can others can experience the blessings of his shalom.
For many affluent suburban Christians the challenge is to discern ways to live out this gospel of stewardship and blessing. The biblical concept of shalom is that of wholeness, peace and security, life the way God intended it to be.
If you are a suburban Christian, you must determine what kind of suburban Christian you are going to be. Will you be virtually indistinguishable from your neighbors, consuming and commuting and striving and acquiring like everyone else? Or will you live out a missional suburban Christianity, where you are connecting and giving and sharing and practicing hospitality, generosity, community and self-sacrifice?