As I’ve said here, I’m uncomfortable with thinking of my City as a laboratory for given ends, even if those ends are the peace and wholeness (the shalom) of the City.
That said, the idea of a missional community that took Sullivan’s distillation of Christ’s person and message as a sort of basis is compelling. Of course, such a gathering need not be a church plant or a new church at all. There are profound, prophetic voices in our City’s Christian community yearning to connect with people who want to follow Jesus without the baggage of church politics and cultural bias often posing as Biblical imperative. Are the trappings of (even progressive) organized religion a hurdle for the young and emerging religious “nones” among us? For some, sure. For others, not. Essential to this calculus is the realization that we’re not the ones doing the math. As Washburn notes, the Holy Spirit is at work.
If Pittsburgh, which is “not a rapidly growing city attracting an influx of young people” can host a flourishing tapestry of missional communities, certainly so can Allentown, the fastest growing city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.