Thursday, February 22, 2007

Faith in the Suburbs

As a college student, I swore I would never end up in suburbia. I would never drive a minivan. I would never fall prey to consumeristic mindset that exists especially in the suburbs of NYC...well you get the idea.
And here I am. I took this photo earlier this year while dropping Jared off at preschool. There is no photoshopping involved, every car in the photo is an SUV or minivan.
The mental image of this picture has stuck with me. It makes me think that God has a sense of humor. It makes me think that my plan probably isn't the best plan. It makes me think , if my part to play in the mission of God is in the suburbs than who am I to argue.
I bumbled onto a blog yesterday called The Suburban Christian. I love the description, "...The better we understand how suburbia shapes us, the better we can shape suburbia." So I think a change in mindset began back when I accepted the call to go on staff at Crossroads. For me, that meant that we would be in the suburbs indefinitely. Let me clarify one thing: I don't believe for a second that you have to be in full-time ministry to be on mission with God. It's just for me that's where my journey has taken me. But I digress, as I see images like the one above, as I read blogs like the Suburban Christian, as I meet and talk to people who are hurting and poor in spirit in starbucks, on the sidelines of a soccer game and at the grocery store, the mindset of being sent to the suburbs continues to take shape.

And then I heard the voice of the Master:
"Whom shall I send?
Who will go for us?"
I spoke up,
"I'll go.
Send me!"
Isaiah 6:8

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10 comments:

stacey t. said...

where did you think you would end up?

TK said...

I don't know the mountains, the middle of nowhere, someplace secluded.

tk

wardo said...

With a little imagination, your backyard can seem mountainous. So that's a start. Also the photo reminds me of a line from "Life Of Brian" (and I'm paraphrasing): "Repeat after me -- I am an individual!")

Your devotion to the path upon which you've been set inspires me. I'm glad you're out there working for those who can't see theirs so clearly. And I'm glad you're sharing your experiences.

stacey t said...

we would have missed you in the burbs.

TK said...

Wardo--thanks for the encouragement. and the life of Brian reference.

tk

Al Hsu said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. And thanks for your ministry to suburbia! I think there are a lot of suburban pastors who aren't validated for their ministry, like it's more spiritual or a higher calling to serve elsewhere. But half the population lives in suburbia, and it's one of the most strategic mission fields of the 21st century. Anyway, blessings to you in your ministry!

trace said...

when I was in college, I was quite certain I'd be living in Boston, single and rich. when I moved home, I was giving it a year or two max, save up some $$ and move back to Boston. and then I went to my high school reunion and you know the rest of the story.

thanks for the reminder that our journeys have a greater purpose than what's in front of our faces. I'll trade the "T" for my sedan, Fenway for my kids' soccer field, my dream job for a family, BC in my backyard to a lake in my backyard any day of the week.

TK said...

Al,

I think, along with half the population living in the suburbs, this geography, for whatever, reasons, is a dark place that desperately needs the light of Christ.

My and wife I relocated to the Northeast from Arkansas. We often, half-seriously/half jokingly talked about asking our church in Arkansas to sponsor us as missionaries.

Here's to work of God in the suburbs.

tk

Al Hsu said...

TK - I was just at the National Pastors Convention in San Diego, and after one of my workshops, one fellow came up to me and said that he used to pastor in rural areas and churches, and then relocated to a suburban context. It took him a couple of years to adjust to the new environment because it was so different, it was really a cross-cultural experience akin to an overseas mission trip. And he said that he realized that one of the ways that he and his church can minister to suburbia is to help other recent transplants to suburbia acclimate to the environment.

CampHillGirl said...

You know, I've read a couple of reviews of books about Christians in the suburbs in 'Christianity Today.' The first one I read was right after we'd moved to our new suburban house, and I felt depressed because it basically said we need to get out of the suburbs because the suburbs are a materialistic blackhole that eventually sucks everyone in. I'd never really considered the suburbs bad. I would rather live in the country since I grew up there, and I love the idea of lots of acreage for my kids to run around on, but realistically, I think it's probably best to live where/near where you work and then, work to be the best person you can there. I guess the suburbs looks more like the American Dream to a lot of people (which is in some ways unappealing), but that doesn't mean Christians shouldn't be there.