[image by e453753]
Over the last couple of posts I have looked at the primacy of finances and family as to reasons why people often move to the suburbs. Those are two of the reasons we consider very important as well. And let me remind my readers that suburban life is not the only place this happens…it can happen in urban areas, hipster loft living, etc.
One of the questions my wife and I asked ourselves when we were first married and purchased our first home in the suburban neighborhood Pasadena…was, what is our mission in this neighborhood? Or how could we help transform the community we were living in? When we first moved in we had lofty aspirations, but dual incomes, graduate school, 3 hour work commutes, and a new baby…slowly killed the dreams we had to live more missionally in our community.
What happened? Was our desire for freedom and autonomy battling with our desire for community and service? We don’t know. But we hope to continue to learn, ask questions, and experiment with how to have more of a mission for our neighborhood and community that we settle down in.
In an Out of Ur blog post from April of 2006, The Brutal Burbs: how the suburban lifestyle undermines our mission, the writer quotes Matzko McCarthy from his book, Sex and Love in the Home: A Theology of the Household.
The dream of the suburbs is a self-sufficient home, inhabited by affable kin and grace with plenty of yard to provide a buffer between neighbors. The aim of suburban life is to choose a home and neighborhood where we can be happy, where people work hard and respect the ways of others, and where families get along on their own and come together for recreation and leisure….The great pleasure of home ownership is freedom and autonomy.
So as you think about moving, where to settle down, or thinking about life where you currently live…my question for you would be:
Do you and your family have a mission for your neighborhood and community? What is it?
David Fitch finishes his blog post by saying the following:
… evangelical Christians must consistently invite our neighbors into our homes for dinner, sitting around laughing, talking, listening and asking questions of each other. The home is where we live, where we converse and settle conflict, where we raise children. We arrange our furniture and set forth our priorities in the home. We pray for each other there. We share hospitality out of His blessings there. In our homes then, strangers get full view of the message of our life. Inviting someone into our home for dinner says “here, take a look, I am taking a risk and inviting you into my life.” By inviting strangers over for dinner, we resist the fragmenting isolating forces of late capitalism in America. It is so exceedingly rare, that just doing it speaks volumes as to what it means to be a Christian in a world of strangers.