Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Location, Location, Location

The more I experience it, and the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that becoming missional means choosing your location wisely, or letting it choose you, and while that has always been a hallmark of the contemporary church planting system, for the missional it means going to the very opposite places that most consider when they seek to plant a church. Few who want to plant a standard model church, especially progressive church, would come to a place like ours with these statistics:

...55 percent worry about the amount of food they have
...6 percent use spoiled food
...29 percent use a food pantry
...31 percent receive food from church
...35 percent borrow food from family
...25 percent borrow food from friends
...25 percent adults skip entire day from eating
...29 percent adults skip meals
...26 percent did not eat and are hungry at time of survey
...43 percent eat less than they should
...60 percent eat low cost foods
...52 percent cannot afford nutritious meals
...57 percent run out of food
...60 percent cannot afford healthy food

The Food Environment:
...29 percent have no affordable source of food in community
...63 percent know about a food pantry
,..56 percent rate the food quality in Turley area as fair or poor
...59 percent indicate food in Turley area expensive or very expensive relative to budget

Overall Health:
...56 percent not currently healthy
...41 percent health is fair or poor
...54 percent are overweight
...66 percent should weigh less
...47 percent smoke or use other tobacco

I guess you can be missional anywhere; I often suggest to people in the fast growing affluent suburbs that they can be missional there by being subversives against consumerism, looking for ways to do guerilla gated community crashing, no-shopping, buy nothing demonstrations, hold a picnic worship in the midst of the miracle mile restaurant rows where community tables are shunned or unknown, and organizing urban plunges and relationships of support with communities in the abandoned places of Empire.

But at the end of the day....not only are you still living and supporting these well off neighborhoods, but I think it takes a lot more energy, a lot more resources, a lot more persistence to make a dent missionally in more affluent places, the same as it does to try to do a regular attractional church plant in these places; affecting the neighbors is just tougher it seems than what a small group can accomplish missionally in the abandoned places; maybe you can attract more to your group when you are located where there are more, but then you have the same problem of breaking through all the noise to be seen and heard by them.

One of the first crisis points for a missional leader will be: where to live, and how to live, and with whom to live?

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