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.read more
One thing that surprised me about the DITB Project was the average age of the team. Most of the team members were over 50. I must confess that I was initially disappointed and discouraged by this, but was ultimately humbled. The disappointment and discouragement stemmed from my initial expectation that I would focus in this project on the stereotypical suburban family that has children in late elementary or secondary school and spends exorbitant amounts of time taxiing children to various extra curricular activities. I was interested to know how an engagement in spiritual and theological conversation might impact their spiritual formation. I reached out to many families within this demographic and was repeatedly and politely denied. “We’d love to participate. Thank you for asking. But, we’re just (you guessed it) too busy.”read more
The DITB project is an exercise both about and of spiritual formation. It is necessary, therefore, to clearly define this term. What is spiritual formation, and more precisely, how do I use this term in the context of this research? In order to answer that question, I must briefly address the relationship between the terms spiritual formation and spirituality. Many people today are more comfortable with the term spirituality, because it has broader application than Christianity or any form of organized religion. I prefer the term spiritual formation because it implies movement and change. This is, admittedly, a personal preference and I will use the terms interchangeably throughout this paper.read more