Make Way for the Metro-Evangelical

Andy Crouch
has a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal about evangelicals in the city. He writes:

Though the American evangelical movement is often stereotyped as rural and provincial, it has actually had its greatest success in the suburbs and exurbs, where entrepreneurial pastors found cheap land and plentiful parking to build the “megachurches” of the past generation—think Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., seating capacity over 7,000.

But a new generation of church founders believes that city centers will be the beachhead of a new evangelization… “You go to the city to reach the culture,” Mr. Keller tells his congregation.

Read the rest here.


  • Chris Taylor

    I wish I could agree! But the City has significant drawbacks which hinder the gospel from flurishing there. While a family is not essential to Christianity, it is not a secondary concept. Transformed families enable churches to thrive. When fathers are forced to step up and protect and provide for thier families, churches benefit. When mothers have a vested interest in the state of the children’s programs, etc, churches benefit.

    Until the City becomes a refuge for families, couples who have lived downtown will continue to move away from the city when they begin having children. I think of it as brain-drain in reverse. Do the Cities suffer when families move out? Yes, but how many fathers will sacrifice their families for the sake of some utopian concept of the City? Not many.

    I’m not saying that the work of the men at Holy Trinity in downtown Chicago is for naught. I think they have a vibrant ministry and are doing wonders there. But I doubt in the long run that the City will someday look anything like a vibrant family friendly place, where churches thrive. I hope I’m wrong.

    • James Stanton

      If churches and ministries can thrive in the most terribly bleak conditions in oppressive countries then we shouldn’t give up on the cities here.

      • Chris Taylor

        I guess what I’m really saying is, I don’t think the City is ever going to undermine the ‘stereotypes’ associated with the rural and suburb areas. Yes the City will see fruitful ministry, but it seems to me that it will likely pale in comparison with the less urban areas.

    • Paul Abella

      I’m glad to tell you you’re wrong. Since you mention Chicago, I will assume that you live (near) there, as I do. Look around. Yes, Wicker Park and Ukranian Village and Tri-Taylor are not necessarily family friendly neighborhoods. And it goes without saying that Andersonville and Boystown are certainly much more about the party than the family. But the family that moves out of Lincoln Square, Jefferson Park, Bridgeport, Beverly (ok, that’s Chicago in name only, but still), Irving Park, Hyde Park or Roscoe Village isn’t doing it because those aren’t family friendly places where someone could easily raise children, send them to decent schools, have a church around the corner, etc, etc, etc. The people moving their children away from that have other motives, so let’s go ahead and call that out. Frankly, if you can afford to live in Roscoe Village and it makes sense to live there, I’d call it child abuse NOT to raise your kids there. Totally family friendly, access to some of the best museums and cultural institutions in the world, good public transportation with access to the only L line that doesn’t pass through any sketchy neighborhoods, etc, etc, etc. If only the north side had even one Mennonite church…

  • Chris Taylor

    There is a provincial pride that persists in City dwellers that is unbecoming. Having grown up in the Chicago suburbs, and having spent some time in America’s more rural areas, I can attest that you never hear these outer areas speak disparagingly about City dwellers.

    If a family from the country decides to move into the City, you will not hear friends and family question their motives. But flip the scene around and it’s time to ‘call them out.’

    FWIW Paul, I’m not trying to attack your response, because I don’t see this as your response in particular. This is the response of every City dweller. It’s always the same. There is a provincial pride in the City that is very unbecoming. It’s almost like a micro scale version of how New Yorkers feel about the rest of the country.

    Be well and do good works.

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