One evangelical leader is asked about caring for the environment as a Christian imperative and they connect the issue to the American suburbs:
If you play the visionary, what must the church or mission agency do now to prepare for the coming changes? How will they take the gospel message to the world?
Much of what we will have to do is practical love, not just suburban evangelism. I don’t know how leaders of World Vision, SIL, Compassion International, or TEAM should change their strategies—but they must be talking about this. Do the analysis, and anticipate the threats.
Will “practical love” be necessary also in the suburbs?
As environmental impacts ramp up, more and more people will discover they are vulnerable. On the West Coast, the Colorado River is running dry. An entire swath of the country is or may soon be on water rationing, and I don’t know how to deal with that. We are not as protected from environmental impacts as we think we are.
Supply chain issues are affecting cellphones and new cars, but what happens when it hits the grocery stores? Trace it back, and you will discover that there were no apples, because the pollinators were absent. This brings it home, but by then, it will be too late.
I see two connections to suburbs in this discussion:
- There is “suburban evangelism” and this contrasts with “practical love.” To address changes in the environment, “suburban evangelism” may not be enough.
- The environmental issues will eventually come to the suburbs. Suburbanites might feel like they are protected by a certain level of wealth and distance from immediate dangers, but environmental change will find them.
In other words, there is a particular way of Christian faith that aligns with suburban life. Right now, that faith does not regularly intersect with climate change or environmental issues.
A much larger, and related, question: what about suburban faith does not line up with addressing climate change and other important social issues? (I have some thoughts about this: I have an analysis titled “Faith in the Suburbs: Evangelical Christian Books about Suburban Life” in this book.)