We live in a mobile society. We can get from place to place with relative ease. It’s not like the Oregon Trail (remember this?) where we attempt to ford the river and our oxen dies or we run out of food supply or worse (see: measles, snakebite, dysentery, typhoid, or cholera). Our modern worst enemies are some unexpected traffic or inconvenient road construction (definitely if you live in Minnesota!).
Where distance once played a major factor in church attendance, it just doesn’t anymore. There was a time when people went to a church in their community. Especially where I live in south Minneapolis, many churches have little or no parking lot. Why? People walked to church. That’s not the case anymore. I drive pass more than 50 churches in the six miles between my house and the church that I work at. A friend who drives 15 miles to my church as well once noted, “We tried churches closer to us but just couldn’t find anything, and I felt like we cast a pretty wide net.”
Recently, this same conversation was brought up on my Facebook page. It actually came up through a question about churches in the Lisle/Naperville/Aurora area of Illinois. One of the churches mentioned was 33 miles from these towns, an apparently short distance by Chicago standards. The question came up as to what doing church looks like when there’s such a great distance between home and church home.
So, it just got me thinking, how far is too far? As my buddy asked, how do you do life with one another when geographically so spread out from one another?
Your comments are much appreciated. It’s really the responses of readers that can encourage others that are in your same shoes. So, please don’t hold back. Let ‘er rip!
- How far is too far? Is this even the right question to be asking? What might be a better question(s) to ask?
- If you live a fair distance from your church home, how does distance impact your non-Sunday pursuit of living out the Gospel in community with others? What are some of the things you do to overcome the distance thing?
- Is there a point where churches should actually be pointing some of these long-distance commuters to community churches closer to home?