Let's make sure we have the right preposition, especially in our heart and attitude.
Bob recently had this to say in his post Hero or Partner:
"I really don't think I can help a cause or community that I am not personally involved and invested in. If I'm not willing to share the community's fate (good or bad), how effective can I be? If I can insulate myself from the day-to-day realities; if I can step away (or move on) without personal consequences; if I can only sympathize and not empathize; I'm just a band-aid. A do-gooder who had the need to "pet the unfortunate" for a season--it makes you feel good, right?
But if I'm buying what I'm selling, I have to truly walk in the community's shoes. And they aren't necessarily comfortable."
Jamie says it like this in his post Serving Need:
"It is critically important to see that neutrality (which could probably be better defined as mutuality) must be the firm foundation upon which meeting needs must be built. Without the humble acknowledgment of our commonality, we can too quickly take on a paternalistic attitude towards those we serve. It is not the good Christians lowering themselves to serve the filthy masses. That is offensive, despite the very good intentions that fuel it. We need to serve people from below (foot washing) or alongside."
Mark asks this question in his post Follow the Money:
"This isn’t to say that we should forsake the affluent. But it is to say that we should stop starting with the affluent, building upon the affluent, and elevating the culture, style, and sensibilities of the affluent. Instead of building a church upon the “best of these,” in hopes of ministering later to the “least of these,” why can’t we simply go among the “least of these” at the very beginning?"
Which leaves me wondering about being missional in the suburbs.
Todd Hiestand has written an excellent article entitled Missional in Suburbia. I hope that you can take the time to read the entire thing. I will include a few quotes here to whet your appetite:
"Despite its nice exterior of SUV’s and housing developments, could it be that the suburban world is as God-forsaken as any place on the globe? This paper will argue that it is. If this is true, what does it mean to be the church in suburban America? What does it mean to be “missional” in a context where there are very few apparent and obvious needs?
There are at least four main ways the default suburban lifestyle needs to be challenged. First, we need to speak out against the suburban value of extreme individualism and call Christians back to community. Second, we need to deconstruct the value of consumerism in way that leads instead to sacrificial living. Third we need to question the suburban value of safety and comfort and judge it against the call of the gospel. Finally, we need to understand how our individualism and consumerism lead us to neglect the hurting and needy people in our neighborhoods and cities.
We need to be a Church that truly exists for the sake of others. We need a Church that gives up luxury so that others may have necessity. We need a Church that rejects the lone ranger mentality and lives in sacrificial and compassionate community. We need a Church that views money as a resource of God’s Kingdom and not an object to be consumed. We need a Church that trusts the Spirit and takes risks for the sake of the Gospel. We need a Church that comes together to care for the poor in their backyards as well as those in the city."
This is an indepth article well worth reading in its entirety.
What do you think? Especially if you find yourself in the midst of the suburbs, how do you live missionally among? Is your mission to find God at work among the suburbs? Or is it your responsibility to go to the margins? Can we go to and still be missional among?