Embracing Growth – The Vitality of Suburban Church Planting – California Southern Baptist Convention

Embracing Growth – The Vitality of Suburban Church Planting

Published Aug 15, 2023

In the ever-changing landscape of today’s modern world, the significance of churches and their role in communities cannot be underestimated. Urban centers are continuing to expand, and the suburbs have emerged as vital hubs of growth and development. As families flock to the suburbs, “one of the best ways to reach young families is to plant where young families live and want to live,” says church planter Alex Barrett of Ridgeview Church. Recognizing the unique opportunities and challenges presented by suburban areas, many sending churches have embraced the concept of planting their churches in those locations. In this article, we will explore the essence of suburban church planting, its relevance in today’s society, and the transformative impact it can have on both individuals and communities.

Suburban church planting refers to the strategic establishment of new churches in suburban neighborhoods. This intentional approach to a location seeks to reach out to individuals and families residing in these areas by providing them with accessible places of worship, spiritual nourishment, and a sense of community. When planting Ridgeview Church in the suburbs of Fontana, Alex Barrett points out, “Suburban Church Planting provides a pivotal window for the Gospel where people finally realize that they have achieved what they have always wanted, but they are not satisfied. They have what they want but not what they need.” To give people what they need – the Gospel – we must be flexible and purposeful.

A Flexible and Relevant Method

California’s suburbs have undergone remarkable demographic shifts over the past few decades. A church planter in the suburbs must be able to respond to shifting demographics. Once considered homogenous, the suburbs are now home to a diverse array of cultures, ethnicities, and beliefs, transforming neighborhoods into vibrant melting pots. Suburban church planting acknowledges the rich tapestry of Californian society and strives to create culturally relevant faith communities. Our church planters endeavor to engage with this changing demographic by offering culturally relevant methods that foster a sense of belonging and access to the gospel.

A Trustworthy Relationship

Amid the fast-paced and individualistic nature of California life, many individuals in the suburbs may find themselves disconnected from their neighbors and yearning for a genuine community. Suburban church plants can fill this void by providing a space where people can connect, support one another, and build meaningful relationships. In planting Garden City Church in Beaumont, CA, Brad Ormonde, Jr. seeks to do so “by trying to make our tables longer than our fences are tall.” Brad leads his church plant to understand that evangelism in the suburbs must be marked by a relational component and requires trust.

Suburban church plants can build trust and establish relationships by addressing the specific needs of the local community. By understanding the unique challenges faced by suburban residents, these church plants can offer relevant programs and services, such as support for young families, parenting workshops, career development assistance, sporting events, and more.

A Picture of Something Greater

While suburban life may offer numerous comforts, it can also be spiritually challenging for many individuals. Brad Ormonde, Jr. has found that “front lawns are seemingly well kept, dogs are walked in the morning, kids are on the bus for school that’s at a nice, big building, but behind so much of that is fear, anxiety, and the worry of self-promotion and self-worth.” Suburban church plants can offer a safe space for people to explore their faith, engage in meaningful discussions, and deepen their understanding of spiritual matters. Alex and Ridgeview Church point out the same thing. “Suburban families are still searching for what they thought would bring hope and security, so the grind to find it continues.” 

A Call to Sacrifice

As our churches grow and reach people for Christ, they must call residents out of a self-centered life and into purpose. This resonates with the mission of Garden City Church “to cultivate a love for God and others.”  Brad established this mission in response to seeing most of suburban life measured by “convenience and comfort.” It is critical that church planters lead their churches to see the needs of others and rise to meet them as Christ would.

A Movement for the Future

In a rapidly changing world, the role of suburban church planting is increasingly significant in establishing vibrant and connected communities. By responding to shifting demographics, fostering community connections, offering tailored ministry approaches, and promoting spiritual growth, church plants like Garden City Church and Ridgeview Church embrace the challenges and opportunities of the suburbs. Join church planter Alex Barrett in praying that “in suburbia, we can see a movement of God where unsatisfied and thirsty people can find the refreshing life only found in Jesus!”