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The Shift

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : October 17, 2004

Urban America is changing. Gentrification is happening in major metro areas–the affluent are moving back to the urban core and the poor are moving out into the suburbs in search of cheaper housing. Using categories like “urban” and “suburban” no longer works. Nor does it make sense to treat issues like diversity, poverty, etc as urban issues. These are realities that all metro churches (and many rural churches) need to address. They aren’t just problems for urban folk.

The problem with affinity-based churches, at least in Minneapolis/St. Paul–is that they are (almost by definition) unable to respond to challenges in their area, since they are focused on one group. And that one group is usually young white families or older white families, or young adults, etc. The marginalized are hardly ever a target group. And those churches that do target them will almost always have limited funds. Meanwhile, the growing suburban church next door has a good deal of resources (which they use to reach more in their narrow demographic).

My point isn’t to insult the church growth paradigm. My point is to direct people’s attention to the marginalized around us. Churches–even affinity-based ones–need to resond to the “urban” issues in their area.

This requires greater networking, a way of “redistributing” ecclesial wealth (yes, I am well aware of how communist that sounds), and a willingness by leaders to work with leaders of churches with whom they differ.

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One Response to “The Shift”

  1. gordon on October 18th, 2004 3:17 am

    Good observations - sounding communist - sounds like the gospel to me!!

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