Where is Midtown Community?
The Midtown Community started as a church in south Minneapolis – an area of town known as “Midtown.” For many, the Midtown Global Market comes to mind (and maybe not much else). You just have to try the spring rolls at Pham’s.
We started as “Midtown Church Project.” We lifted this name from pastor-author, Tim Keel’s book, Intuitive Leadership, and the community he founded in Kansas City in the late 1990’s. Then, based on advice from mentors at the time, we dropped the “project.” Eventually we've morphed into Midtown Community. The constant theme: Midtown.
In 2014 we were introduced to Dan and Kathy Smith. Kathy is the interim pastor at Andrew Riverside in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood. We like them. They think like us – and they have amazingly big hearts and ask really good questions (of themselves and us).
We hosted an event in their beautiful new space as an experiment – and it worked really well. This lead to a new partnership with Andrew Riverside – a partnership that allows us to use their space on Sunday evenings.
We no longer host regular events in south Minneapolis – though many of us are from there and love the vibe and food (like Taco Cat). And, who knows, maybe some day we’ll return?
The question behind the question, however, is the value of space, locality and geography.
The Parish Model
The parish model of church values locality and is built around the ideals of a neighborhood. The fastest growing churches, however, draw regionally. Is the parish model dying? Probably not, but it is changing. The largest and fastest growing churches place parking spaces at a premium – and they have a regional draw with entertainment-based worship services. Families drive as much 20 or 30 minutes to get to church on a Sunday morning without much thought about their neighborhood or the neighborhood of their church. They drive across town to hear a spiritual speech and sing group karaoke.
The parish model, on the other hand, values locality, the power of place, location and the transformative power of face-to-face relationships. What does that look like in a culture of automobiles and limited public transportation? Then again, a majority urban churches are full of people (not sure “full” is the right word) who no longer live in that neighborhood. They moved to the ‘burbs years ago, but still come in for church. The neighborhood changed.
We love the parish model of church and the value of locality, but we don’t consider ourselves a regional or parish model. What model of church are we isn’t the game we want to play and it doesn’t represent the questions we’re asking about mission, community, networks, and the activity of God in the world. However, church models aside, there is another reality for us.
We’re renters, not owners. And like all renters, we don’t have control over rent, markets, shifting demographics and changes in landlords. So we remain nimble and flexible. We remain open – and organized around values.
We love our partners at Andrew Riverside and are grateful for the partnership. We also know nothing is forever.
Back to the Question
So when we say midtown and call ourselves Midtown and brand ourselves and MIDTOWN we are talking about a place where something is happening. It’s the center of something without being the center of everything. It speaks of an idea that all cities have a midtown. And it values the transformation that can happen in face-to-face relationships – whether or not you have to drive, walk, bike or transport to get to that place.
Eventually, we’ll have midtowns in other cities and there will be friendraisers in those places. Because the world needs more friendraisers – the people and the events.
There could come a day we move back to south Minneapolis – or up to the northside or downtown or north loop or all of them at once. But for now, we are Midtown Community.
We host most of our events in Marcy-Holmes near the U of M and the Stone Arch Bridge. And we love our Twin Cities. We are Midtown.