frgavin on May 12th, 2011
Archie Poulos
April 29th, 2011

We need to look at what is going on in our suburbs.

When we look there are two obvious things to see: there is no uniformity and ‘Christendom’ is dead.

No uniformity
It was no so long ago when it made sense to talk about the type of person who lived in a suburb. That is not the case now. There are a variety of ethnic groups in any suburb. And within each group there is not just a variety of income, education and family situation, but also variety in religious belief, variety in commitment to groups, variety in values, variety in how recreation time is spent. It is getting more and more difficult to define who the ‘average person’ is.

Christendom is dead
By Christendom people mean a situation where Christianity is the faith of the state and that the church had a central place in communal life. Those days are gone. This is seen in a number of ways, such as
• church has been moved from the centre to the margins of public discussion
• church membership has moved from being the majority to a minority group
• churches have moved from a position where they are the sole privileged group to being one of many groups.
• if churches want to influence society, it is no longer through being an institution, but a movement
• churches must accept that they have moved from being in control to being witnesses to the truth

You just have to look at the newspapers over Easter to see this. This year, as in all recent years there were two negative articles about belief in the resurrection in one newspaper over the weekend. No other religion is mocked during their festivals.

What to do?
What do we do about these changes in society?

Don’t moan and don’t retreat! Our day is a great day of gospel opportunity. Let’s seize the opportunity God has given. The alternative is to retreat into our safe Christian enclaves – a thing we must not do.

Look around you
We need to look closely and observe who is in our suburbs. We cannot simply define our city or our suburbs. They are too diverse for that. Any description we give of a suburb’s inhabitants will offend many people because it is just not accurate. This is because there is no longer one single culture that defines a group.

I contend that people now live in a plurality of micro-cultures. That is what defines us is the collection of small cultural groups that we are part of. For example I live in a certain street, I meet with this group of Christians, I play this sport, I am involved with that school, I socialize in this way.

My point is that almost everyone lives in a series of micro-cultures, and this gives us gospel opportunities.

Look at and for the variety of micro-cultures that exist in you suburb. Then look at the micro-cultures that you and other members of your congregation are part of.

Next; pray and think about how you can use the micro-cultures you inhabit to infect them with the gospel. Then think about how you might help other Christians to affect their micro-cultures with the gospel. Then think about which micro-cultures you and others might join in order to open up gospel opportunities.

The world will no longer come through our church doors just because we have an all welcome sign out the front (if it ever did), but the diversity which now exists gives us so many points of contact for the gospel of Jesus.

We need to begin looking at what is happening.

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