I have been doing a lot of thinking over the last year regarding Suburbia. Mostly in relation to what does it mean to be missional in the suburbs. My wife and I wrestled with this question and whether we needed to move to a more “urban” area in order to be missional…but I think that is, in one way, a cop out. Being missional is about where you are planted. Yes you can be missional in the urban area…the needs are easier to see. But you can also be missional in suburbia. I got to see a great example of that at a church in Bucks County called the Well. Todd Hiestand is the Pastor and he has written a great deal about being missional in suburbia, which has been tremendously helpful to my journey.

So the other day while in my favorite bookstore, Ollies…(good stuff cheap) I found the above book “Death by Suburb” by David Goetz. So I picked up and began reading. Goetz lays out 8 toxins of Suburbia and 8 Spiritual practices to counteract the toxin.

The 8 toxins are: I am in control of my life, I am what I do and what I own, I want my neighbors life, My life should be easier than this, I need to make a difference with my life, My Church is the problem, What will this relationship do for me, and I need to get more done in less time.

The 8 Spiritual practices that he lays out are: The Prayer of Silence, The journey through the self, Friendship with those who have no immortality symbols, Accepting my cross with grace and patience, Pursuing action, not results, Staying put in your church, Building deep and meaningful relationships, and Falling in love with a day.

Here are some quotes from the book that resonated with me:

“I think my suburb, as safe and religiously coated as it is, keeps me from Jesus. Or at least, my suburb (and the religion of the suburbs) obscures the real Jesus. The living patterns of the good life affect me more than I know. Yet the same environmental factors that numb me to the things of God also hold out great promise. I don’t need to escape the suburbs. I need to find Jesus here.”

“The kingdom of God often appears plain, ordinary, small, in the moment.”

“Even in suburbia all moments are infused with the Sacred. God is really present where I live…”

“The practice of solitude may be the most important spiritual discipline for the suburbs. And it is probably one of the most difficult to practice here.”

“A friend with a special needs child (and five other kids as well) recently said to me that he thought one spiritual issue of our community (which has a median household income of 75,000) is how hard we work at appearing not to have any issues. ‘The sad thing’ he says, ‘is that you wind up with a bunch of folks who appear to have it all, but are miserable. They’re trapped in the attractive veneer of being ‘perfect people.’ That, by its very nature, negates the transparency to form a deeper bond with a human being.”

“The perfect suburban life is bogus.”

“Coveting may be the most toxic indulgence of the suburbs, and the life practice to overcome it requires the discipline to face another kind of person. This person is not like me. This person in not like my neighbor, whose house I covet. This person is invisible to me, because I am facing in the wrong direction- toward those I perceive to have more than I.”

There are a lot more quotes that I could share but I close with this one…

“forget trying to live a safe, gated life.”