This research is interested in the intersection of three things: Spiritual Formation, the Trinity, and the Suburbs. There is also a fourth thing that is less of an intersection and more of a bias from which the entire conversation is viewed. This bias is the Missional Church.
In other words, I want to know if the Trinity has any impact or connection to how suburban people—specifically people in suburban ELCA congregations—think about and practice spiritual formation. I ask the question because I am interested in the missional church and I believe the recent conversation about the Trinity, and its connection to the missional imagination, is an extremely important topic for the life, health, and future of the ELCA in the suburban context.
I am a suburban pastor. I love the suburbs and the busy suburbanites that live in them. It is my native environment and I would not trade it. However, I must confess something. It is difficult to be a suburban pastor. It is especially difficult to be a suburban pastor who is trying to cultivate spaces for spiritual formation and a missional imagination for a Lutheran congregation.
Suburbanites are busy people who are pulled in a hundred directions and feel immense societal pressures to be successful and productive in every area of life. Beyond that, they are expected to produce even more successful children. The suburban Lutheran family has the additional pressure to make sure that their children are not only the best in sports, academics, and the arts, but are also properly baptized, catechized, and confirmed along the way. Suburbanites find themselves running from one activity to the next, constantly trying to decide which is the most efficient use of their precious time to yield that greatest result to meet all of the expectations placed upon them.