Are You Starting an Urban Church Plant or PLANTATION?

Urban (and suburban) planters need to read Dr. Cleveland’s thought-provoking, important insights.

The empire says that our church needs to be present in every community, our church has the answers and our church’s resources are our resources alone. If we follow this path, power dynamics remain unchanged and urban church plantations ensue.

The better, more honoring path requires equity—which is costly. Just ask the rich, young ruler. Jesus asked him to reject his empire approach to life, stop being so possessive about his possessions, and join the interdependent family of God.

Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”Mark 12:21

The rich young ruler wasn’t able to do it. It was too costly, and he was too invested in building his own empire.

Suburban churches, Jesus is talking to you. What are you gonna do?


[i] Soong-Chan Rah Challenges Disciples to Learn from the Changing Face of Christianity

[iv] See Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree for a clear and succinct discussion on how the black church has protected black people from the oppression of white America.

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Christena Cleveland
Christena Cleveland, Ph.D. is an associate professor of reconciliation studies at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. The author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart, she blogs at and tweets @CSCleve.