This afternoon I am facilitating a discussion at The Idea Camp around the topic of suburbia and them missional. Now, this is a topic that I have written about a lot and spoke about a few times as well. My most significant contribution to those of us that are talking about this topic is the paper I wrote during a seminary class. In that paper you’ll find a fair amount of my thoughts on the challenges that we are faced with as we seek to be faithful churches in a suburban context.

In our discussion today however, I am trying to take a new approach to the issue and come at it from a different angle. While I think there is value in looking at the weaknesses and challenges in a suburban context, I have a “idea” that we would do much better to start asking what things are valuable in suburbia and what are the strengths of the suburban context.

I’m kind of a leadership book junkie and one of the things that I’ve learned is that good leaders help their organizations and communities focus on strengths and grow them forward rather than put all their effort into overcoming weaknesses.

A good example might be the current state of the Pheonix Suns. They were a top 5 team for the last number of years because they focused on their strength of athleticism and scoring. They were, in my mind, a lucky bounce or two away from an NBA championship. This year however, in an effort to get over the hump, the owners and GM decided they would focus on their weaknesses, which was of coruse their defense. So, they fired offensive genius Mike D’Antoni and hired a defensive minded coach. They traded away Shawn Marion a very atheletic forward and got Shaquille O’Neal who is, well, not so athletic.

The result? Well, let’s just say they lost to the LA Lakers by 30 last night.

So, today, instead of focusing on challenges and weaknesses like I’ve done in the past, we’re going to ask the questions, “what are the strengths of suburbia and how can we capitalize on them and grow them forward?”

I’m looking forward to a good conversation with whoever shows up at the seminar.