A Suburban Faith

Relevant magazine recently ran a great article called A Suburban Faith. Here’s the problem for many middle-class Christians:

Because I watch CNN, I already know that people who are poor are out there. They stand on wet roofs in New Orleans, they dodge bullets in the Middle East and they pose for mug shots in Detroit. They might not live in my condo complex, but I know they’re out there. Somewhere.

Sometimes it is pretty easy to say that since the poor will always be with us, we can basically ignore trying to change that. Or something I think I hear even more often in my generation is that they simply don’t know where to begin changing things. These are largely middle-class, largely white, largely educated people. They live in areas where there isn’t a lot of poverty staring them in the face. They might say that if they had a soup kitchen near them, they’d definitely help, but they don’t because where they live there isn’t a big problem. Some move out of these comfortable bubbles in order to live out Jesus’ call to help the poor. I do particularly applaud these people because I think that is Jesus’ incarnational ministry at work. Many can’t do this for various reasons (work, family, etc), and many don’t want to do this. But this article is great because it makes it clear that if you can’t move into the poor area, there are still ways to change the world from your suburban comfort zone.

Here are 10 things that the author suggests:

  1. Know the name of the person who touches your goods.
  2. Exercise in a place where you’ll encounter someone new.
  3. Get to really know those who you encounter in the course of your daily work.
  4. Invest in the life of a young person living on the world’s margins.
  5. Share the lives of those who give and receive care.
  6. Build relationships with the elderly who have been forgotten.
  7. Volunteer to coach.
  8. Engage in ministry with a partner from a sister congregation.
  9. Open your home to children in the state (province) foster care system.
  10. Invest in people living in a place where personhood can be easily overlooked.

Now you have no excuse. Go change the world and don’t let suburbia hold you back.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.