Just a musing this morning.
I am struggling to know how to encourage discipleship-oriented church life in outer London suburbia. People live such fast lives, have such long commutes, so little ability to claw back time to dwell on the things of God or to consider what next steps they would like to take with him. Many people in my church attend a home group, but it is a real sacrifice of time for them in a world that absorbs time and doesn't let you have it back. For many it is about all they can realistically manage in their frantic schedules. There is so little time for reflection, contemplation, working together on projects that fulfil God's purposes for our area or building community of depth.
Our home group is making some progress. We seem to be getting to the point where we can have safe discussion of depth about personal and spiritual things, but it has taken a lot of effort (and skill on the part of the group leaders) to make a start. And we are only at the start. To go much further our mindset needs to shift so that the church as a whole - everyone in it - hankers after depth, significant spiritual growth and grace-filled community.
The paradigms and life-rhythms of suburbia work against all these things. For the same reasons it works against evangelism too. Non-Christians live fast lives. They are materially wealthy, not asking big questions of life and faith and unlikely to cross the threshold of a church building.
What will attract them is the quality and depth of the loving community that they see or hear about. Jesus did say "by this all people will know you are my disciples - that you love each other." But it is difficult to build love without a commitment to depth with each other, and difficult to get a commitment to depth without time, and difficult to find time because this is suburbia.
Suburbia is a time-sink.