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?”