It's official. The "back to the city" movement seems to be winding down, at least for the foreseeable future. For years now in North American ministry circles, much discussion has occurred over the rise of city populations. However, trends seem to be shifting once again toward the suburbs. While the particulars of strategy are most often confined to the specific local context, there are at least three high-level insights that merit a mention.
For churches that find themselves in the suburbs, the rapidly changing demographics of these neighborhoods matter. It is no secret that the majority of evangelical churches are located in the suburbs of metropolitan areas. We must ask ourselves, however, if our churches are prepared to minister to new territory. Churches located on the same plot of ground where they started 3 or 4 decades ago may not have moved, but the communities around them have shifted.
In a dramatic scene of the 1987 movie The Untouchables, Jim Malone presses Eliot Ness on what he is willing to do to finally catch Al Capone. Though I'm certainly not advocating for illegal activity as Malone was, I think it's a great picture of what we need to innovate and reach gospel saturation in and beyond our city.
If your way isn’t working where you are, are you prepared to learn a new way? As leaders, we need to be asking ourselves and allowing trusted people in our lives to ask us the same question: “What are you prepared to do?”
In 2016, my sister and I decided to take on the responsibility to plan our church's first Vacation Bible School (VBS). We've learned quite a few things along the way and are still learning. Hopefully, these thoughts and tips can be helpful to those of you thinking of planning VBS, no matter how big or small.
En el 2016, yo y mi hermana, tomamos la responsabilidad de hacer una Escuela Bíblica de Verano (EBV) por primera vez. Hemos aprendido varias cosas y espero que estos les ayude a planificar EBV, grande o pequeño.
“Do you have any good websites I can visit for demographic data on my neighborhood?”
If I’ve been asked that question once, I’ve received it a dozen times. Many pastors and church leaders now understand the need to know their ministry context and contextualize their mission strategy to engage their neighbors in a meaningful way. But how do we find and use those resources?