White Flight? (and the call of the suburban church)
A few friends sent me the link to this article that points out that white, young males are fleeing the suburbs and that, while the burbs still
“tilt white…for the first time, a majority of all racial and ethnic groups in large metro areas live outside the city. Suburban Asians and Hispanics already had topped 50 percent in 2000, and blacks joined them by 2008, rising from 43 percent in those eight years.”
I believe this has major ramifications for how the church in suburbia sees its calling.
A year ago as I was taking part in a prayer walk in my local town (Hatboro, PA). In this small suburban town with a main street. On the outskirts of this suburb there is a growing hispanic community. Just one evidence of this is the growing number of hispanic grocery stores and restaurants (which by the way, I am really, really excited about!). But, it was during this prayer walk that I realized a significant problem: If you walk around the downtown of Hatboro, you would think the whole town was white. Except for the restaurants where we eat and they serve, There is very little interaction between the white community and the hispanic community in our area.
It was then that it hit me that perhaps the call of the church in this area isn’t only to grow a great worshipping community with lots of stuff for the young families that are living here. Yes, churches do need to be contextual to these kinds of needs.
But, if we look a bit deeper maybe we’ll see that the call of the church in suburbs like mine is to be a more full picture of the Kingdom by seeking significant relationships (i.e. friendships) with people who are different than us. It’s my belief that Church in the suburbs needs to leaders in modeling an integrated society and really live out the truth that there is neither Jew nor Greek, nor male nor female nor slave nor free.
How do you start?
I think its really as simple (and as complicated) as that.
Here are a few others stats from the article:
- About 83 percent of the U.S. population growth since 2000 was minority, part of a trend that will see minorities become the majority by midcentury. Across all large metro areas, the majority of the child population is now nonwhite.
- The suburban poor grew by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008 — five times the growth rate of the poor in cities. City residents are more likely to live in “deep” poverty, while a higher share of suburban residents have incomes just below the poverty line.
- For the first time in several decades, the population is growing at a faster rate than households, due to delays in marriage, divorce and births as well as longer life spans. People living alone and nonmarried couple families are among the fastest-growing in suburbs.