Ed Stetzer on Suburban church planting

Ed was interviewed at sub-text regarding the challenge of church planting in a suburban environment. As usual, he had some interesting and useful things to say.

I liked this three part answer to mistakes pastors make in the suburbs:

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.

emphasis added.

Love the way Ed thinks. Hat tip to Todd Hiestand who adds “It took me a while but I am right there. I don’t hate the suburbs anymore.”


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