In the Ghetto

*this is a guest post my friend Justin Wise. Go check him out after the read.

Christian ghettos. Sound funny? It shouldn’t. Christians are huge fans of ghettos. They are as inevitable as death and taxes.

When I say “ghetto” I mean a collective group of people located in a certain sector of society, usually based on cultural identifiers. While there are ghettos based on socioeconomic factors, there are also cultural ghettos.

Here’s a dirty little secret, Christians love hanging out in their own ghettos. Ghettos of their own making. Ghettos where they feel safe, warm and protected. Ghettos where no one else is allowed or would dare to go.

Here’s how Christian ghettos typically start:

  1. Cultural trend is established.
  2. Trend flourishes.
  3. Churches and Christian businesses adopt trend slightly after its cultural peak (i.e. on the way down).
  4. Christian communities (ghettos) form around dying trend.
  5. Culture moves to new trend.
  6. Christians hold tightly to dying trend.
  7. Community continues to grow around dying trend, “outsiders” are pushed out.
  8. Voíla, a Christian ghetto is formed.

Examples abound. Just look here. And here. And here. But one example that seems to be thriving as of late is the trend to form Christian ghettos on the social web. Little pockets in the social media world where Christians, and only Christians, would ever dare to go.

Case-in-point: Your Twitter “Following” list. Take a moment and scan through it briefly. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

What do you see? Do most of the bios of the people you’re following mention:

  • God?
  • Jesus?
  • A favorite Bible verse?
  • How hot their wife/husband is?
  • The phrase “Living for an audience of One”?
  • Is their location noted as “Heaven” or “Seated with Him in Heavenly Places”?

If so, chances are you live in a Christian ghetto.

Are the things mentioned above bad things to have on your Twitter profile? No. Of course not. But I would say it’s less-than-beneficial if these are the only voices you’re hearing in your social media world.

Here’s why: The social web allows you to connect with people that you never would normally. Stoners, lawyers, accountants, students, bakers, politicians, musicians, celebrities, weirdos, creeps and geniuses. They’re all on Twitter and they’re all ready to be listened to.

Same thing with Facebook.
Same thing with blogs.
Same thing with Flickr.

If you’re reading this post and you live in the Christian social media ghetto, my challenge to you today is to move out. Pack up your belongings, saddle up, and ride out. Get the heck out of Dodge, if you know what I’m sayin’. How do you do this? A few different ways:

  1. Run a search on Twitter and find a group of people that believe the exact opposite of you. If you’re a Republican, search for Democrats. If you’re Christian, look for atheists. If you’re in ministry, look for people in the marketplace. Then follow them. Lots of them. Then listen to what they’re saying. You don’t need to agree, just listen.
  2. Find a Facebook group or fan page of a group that you’d never visit in person. For instance, not too long ago I joined the Atheists Anonymous group on Facebook. I didn’t blurt out how wrong they were and how they would all go to hell, but I observed the culture and watched how they interacted.
  3. Offer to meet up with someone in your area who falls into group #1 or #2 and start a dialogue with them. It’s amazing how many differences can be settled when you sit in front of someone and listen.

We’ve lived in Christian ghettos too long. Let’s have the social web be a place where ghettos, at least for now, are really hard to make and inhabit. Let’s be a people who are interested in the lives of others‚Äìeven those people who aren’t like us. Not as a project. Not so we can “get them saved” (whatever that means). Not even so we can get them to come to our church. But simply because they bear the same image of God that you and I do.

As for me and my house, we’re moving out of the ghetto. What about you?

8 thoughts on “In the Ghetto

  1. Becky Laswell

    Thanks for putting ideas I've had into words in a way that I haven't managed. :) Great points re: twitter. The counter-argument works, too. Look at your own posts: if most of them talk about God, are RT's of some famous pastor/author, are Bible verses, and filled with Christian jargon… well, maybe it's time to re-assess what you're on twitter for.

    I used to live in the Christian ghetto, especially in college. That ghetto looks a bit different than today's ghettos, but they're all the same in how they separate us from the very people we're (theoretically) trying to reach.

    September 15, 2010 at 10:40 am
  2. Micah Durham

    enjoyed yours thoughts…made me think:

    -what do you do with the ghetto? Should it be destroyed? Reformed? Forgotten?

    I guess i should hide my Degarmo & Key albums!

    -if a Ghetto is big enough, doesnt it generate its own ministry needs?

    I know a pastor that intentionally is in a denomination to try and reform and improve the Ghetto.

    September 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm
  3. Ryan Egan

    This was a very though-provoking post. Thanks for sharing and convicting.

    September 16, 2010 at 3:14 am
  4. Vince Marotte

    most ghettos get abandoned leaving behind people who can't seem to move on for various reasons.

    Some ghettos get so big that they no longer look like ghettos when in fact they are. The Murrieta/Temecula Valley is a Christian ghetto that is so big that no one sees it. It takes people with the guts to walk away from the comfort and safety of the ghetto.

    It's gutsy to try and change the ghetto because you have to get marked as a haratic by some or most of the people in the ghetto. The end game has to be to free minds one at a time (the matrix) or to split the ghetto in two and let it blow up on itself (gets ugly).

    September 16, 2010 at 4:25 am
  5. Micah Durham

    …you got me think about The Matrix…"Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. "

    not to pick on Calvary Chapel, but they were the cutting edge how long ago? i think one would get tired of talking about endtimes for so long….but i digress. what does this teach you about ourselves and the movement that you and I are a part of?

    Do you see yourself creating something that will span generations? I see a lot of Baby Boomer Churches, called things like Corona Community Church. I see Gen X churches called things like Crosspointe, Sandals, and so-forth. What preventative steps are you taking to not create yet another Ghetto?

    back to the matrix:

    "Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions"

    September 16, 2010 at 6:09 pm
  6. Justin Wise

    Anytime I can make people think about the Matrix after reading something I've written is a win in my book. The Matrix is, and forever will be, my favorite movie!

    And I agree, we're asking the wrong questions. Almost always. Thanks for the words.

    September 22, 2010 at 11:13 am
  7. Justin Wise

    My pleasure :)

    Love your counter-point. Sometimes I a drop a random curse word to see how many ghettofied Christians I can drop on my follower count. It's like a really calculated social experiment.

    Bust outta da Ghetto!

    PS – College was the worst for me as well.

    September 22, 2010 at 11:14 am
  8. […] suggestions about how we can get out of these “Ghetto’s” – read his post here – very […]

    September 30, 2010 at 5:21 am

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