The deep power of the hope of Jesus Christ can overcome any amount of separation, not matter how soul-less we may feel our communities to be.
When you hear the word “suburbia,” what’s your first thought?
Quiet, tree-lined streets? Isolation and a lack of connectivity? Kids’ sports games and white-picket fences?
And where is God in all of this anyways?
My Irish Catholic family progressively moved from an urban context to a suburban one. My mother was born in the Bronx and my father in Queens. When I was born, my parents took me home to Floral Park, which is right on the edge of the city and the rest of Long Island.
When I was a child, my parents moved to a place called Levittown.
And, Levittown was the quintessential American suburb, and the very definition of what would be seen by many as the souless suburb.
Though our ministry journey has taken us to the inner city of Buffalo, NY and to rural Georgia, we live in Chicago’s western suburbs today.
Some Important History
One of the reasons many people today see the suburbs as “soul-less” is that most suburbs separate people from others who are different than them. And, we can’t talk about the missiological implications without first consideirng some history.
You see, suburbs do exist to keep you away from, well, undersirable realities. And, part of that reality has a tragic racist underpinning—many suburbs (like Levittown) even had covenants to keep African Americans from living in the town.
Of course, suburbs thrived for many reasons (the automobile and interstate highways, for example), but they certainly existed (at least in part) to give what people perceived to be a better place to live— which often meant removing you from proximity to the poor, people who were different, minorities, and much more.
In the book Our Kids, Robert Putnam (who is also the author of …
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