The Suburban Christian: Finding Spiritual Vitality in the Land of Plenty, By Albert Y. Hsu

The Suburban Christian

Finding Spiritual Vitality in the Land of Plenty

by Albert Y. Hsu

The Suburban Christian
  • Length: 220 pages
  • Published: May 31, 2006
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3334
  • ISBN: 9780830833344

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Suburbia: Paradise or Wasteland?

Suburbia is a place of spiritual yearnings. People come to suburbia looking for a fresh start, the second chance, a new life. It embodies the hopes and longings of its residents, dreams for the future, safety and security for their children, and the search for meaningful community and relationships. Yet much in our suburban world militates against such aspirations, and people find themselves isolated and alienated, trapped by consumerism and materialism. Is there hope for a Christian vision for the suburbs?

Al Hsu unpacks the spiritual significance of suburbia and explores how suburban culture shapes how we live and practice our faith. With broad historical background and sociological analysis, Hsu offers practical insights for living Christianly in a suburban context. Probing such dynamics as commuting and consuming, he offers Christian alternatives for authentic spirituality, genuine community and relevant ministry. And he challenges suburban Christians to look beyond suburbia and marshal their resources toward urban and global justice.

Suburbia may be one of the most significant mission fields of the twenty-first century. Here is guidance and hope for all who would seek the welfare of the suburbs.

"What an education. Al Hsu's excellent book inspires me to see the place in which I live with new clarity, creativity and gratitude. He expanded my imagination and enlarged my heart for the city near us, and God's world around us. I hope every suburban Christian will read it."

Kelly Monroe Kullberg, founder of The Veritas Forum and author of Finding God Beyond Harvard

"This book is a long-overdue pilgrimage through the empty promises, hidden hopes and subtle demons of suburbia. Urban cynics and suburban hermits rejoice--here is a refreshing invitation to find God at work in the margins, the same God who showed up in the unlikely badlands of Nazareth from which the world said nothing good could come."

Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution

"Provocative, thoughtful, even prophetic, The Suburban Christian is a book the church badly needs."

Lauren F. Winner, author of Girl Meets God and Real Sex

"A very important book for all of those who are seeking to faithfully follow Jesus in the suburbs. A candid grappling with both the challenges and the opportunities of suburban living. A great resource for church study groups."

Tom Sine, author of The Mustard Seed Conspiracy and Living on Purpose

"With no end in sight for suburban sprawl and urban challenges spreading relentlessly outward from the city core, The Suburban Christian is right on time. Don't run from the suburbs, Al Hsu urges--redeem them. It's a message whose time has come."

Robert D. Lupton, author of Theirs Is the Kingdom and Renewing the City

"The Suburban Christian is a helpful, needed resource for living thoughtfully and faithfully in suburbia. Al Hsu has researched well, thought hard and lived vulnerably to produce what I believe will become a basic primer for all believers who live in suburbia. There are no easy answers here, though. By thoughtfully deconstructing suburbia (I'll never look at malls or roads or sidewalks exactly the same way again) and by honestly wrestling with what it is like to live in suburbia (finely highlighting the tensions, ironies and surprises of life here) Al Hsu gives me a clearer, deeper understanding of the life I live and helps me ask the right questions about how to live as a suburban believer."

Don Everts, author of Jesus with Dirty Feet, The Smell of Sin and God in the Flesh

"Albert Hsu has written a readable and well-researched treatment of a key issue. I live and work in the exurb, and I am grateful for his wisdom."

John Ortberg, author of If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat

Hsu offers practical insights for living a Christian life and ways to grow spiritually within an expanding sense of community. He believes Christian churches need to consider suburbia as local mission fields whose residents are seeking answers to new problems. This is an excellent book not only for longtime suburbanites but for young families new to the suburbs.

Congregational Libraries Today, July/August 2007

Hsu wisely and carefully challenges ways Christians can be more intentional about how they live and think about life in the suburbs. His tone is vulnerable and inviting, educational, and punctuated nicely with personal illustrations . . . He also addresses challenges to the spiritual life . . . He reminds us that we are part of an interconnected whole that includes urban, suburban, and rural communities, and also global communities.

Lisa Graham McMinn, Barclay, 4/3/2007

"In his fresh new book, The Suburban Christian, Hsu presents an exciting vision where Christians live and work to transform suburbia from a sea of consumerist isolationism into a hotbed of Christian hospitality."

BreakPoint, Oct. 23, 2006

"[Hsu] is an immensely appealing writer, and what he has to say, which includes practical and incremental steps to take, will resonate with many suburbanites and nonsuburbanites alike."


"Finds in suburban living a deep spiritual longing. . . . Hsu insists that you don't need to live on a farm or in the inner city to live an authentically Christian life."

Lauren F. Winner, "God of the Latté," Books Culture, May/June 2006

"[P]rovides a thoughtful critique of what living as a Christian in the suburbs should look like. . . . Every suburban pastor should read this book."

Publishers Weekly


Introduction: Suburbia--Paradise or Wasteland?
1. The Suburban Moment: Glimpses of a Suburban Future
2. Living in Suburbia: The Pursuit of the Promised Land
3. Spaced Out: The Impact of Commuter Culture
4. Material World: The Challenges of Consumer Culture
5. Status Check: How Consuming and Branding Shape Our Identity
6. Won't You Be My Neighbor? Moving from Anonymity to Community
7. Finding God in the Suburbs: Cultivating Spirituality in Everyday Life
8. The Suburban Church: Gathering Places of Relevance and Hope
9. Beyond Suburbia: Mission to and from the Suburbs
Epilogue: Seek the Welfare of the Suburbs


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Albert Y. Hsu

Albert Y. Hsu is senior editor at InterVarsity Press.