I’d like to recommend a few blog posts that I think you’ll find both challenging and encouraging. The basic themes summarized:
- We need to do a better job of proritizing our church community
- Living near the people we want to be close to helps tremendously
- Putting down roots is essential
- Proximity matters
To begin, I’ll share an article from The Gospel Coalition. I don’t normally recommend things from TGC. They have slid run full speed into the social gospel and social justice movement, emphasizing progressive socio-political issues and turning them into “gospel issues.” However, depending on the author and topic, they still can have some excellent resources on their blog from time to time.
I recently found this gem of an article in which Nathan Finn argues that we ought to seek to live close to our local church—really close. We don’t tend to think this way anymore; in fact, it’s almost entirely foreign to us now. It goes against everything that we’ve been conditioned to think, but the reality is that proximity matters. We have been duped, with our reliance on cars and communication technology, into thinking that we can live far away from others yet remain just as close to them. Read the article here — Why You Should Consider Living Near Your Church.
Over on Scot McKnight’s blog, Todd Dildine has been examining the causes of the decline of local churches. In his second installment, he has an excellent analysis of what he calls “sprawl”—the ever-expanding spread of homes that makes it difficult to actually have a full sense of community among the church. Again, he’s arguing that, in fact, proximity matters, and the growing sprawl of communities is actually hurting the local church — The Death of the Church 2.
Of course, this church-centric mindset is not just foreign to many, it’s offensive. On that note, Religious Affections recently posted a good article about the scriptural mandate to prioritize our own local church community — How Christians and Churches Prioritize Going About the Doing of Good.
As you’ll notice, especially in the article on sprawl, one’s sense of place is extremely important. The Imaginative Conservative has an article, not relating specifically to living near your church, but rather to the issue of cultivating permanence, and the value of living in your hometown. It’s a convicting and challenging read — Why You Should Stay in Your Hometown.
One last post, another that deals with the need for roots and permanence, is this one from C.R. Wiley — Dying Where You’re Planted. In it, he explains that, even if you don’t stay in your hometown, you ought to take the “conservative risk” of putting down roots and staying put.
In these articles, the authors are noticing the loss of a sense of place and belonging in American culture—especially amongst the younger generations. In our quest for globalization and the goal of making everyone feel like they “belong” everywhere, we’ve actually lost our rootedness and end up not belonging anywhere. I encourage you to take the time to read each of these articles; in the end, I think you’ll find them deeply encouraging.