Why Focus on the Hinterlands?
Most of life is unbalanced and unequal. If there is a common descriptor of life we'd content that it is "unfair." This does not diminish God's love, care, and sovereignty. Even for many life can be and is utterly brutal. I've been slowly working my way through one of the most horrific books I've ever read. 16th century Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas wrote A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies as he graphically detailed the atrocities wrought on by the Spanish on the native populations throughout the Americas. Priests were trying to share the gospel while soldiers were torturing and slaughtering these same people. While this gets into the larger theological conversation of theodicy the point is that much of life is unbalanced, unequal, and unfair.
At times this inequality and unbalance slips into the world of ministry. It should then come as no surprise that hinterlands are overlooked when it comes to viable places for church planting for a number of reasons. The reasons are myriad, but the hinterlands are hinterlands for a reason. It could be the result of high crime, economic decline, environmental issues, natural disasters, racism, or simply bad aesthetics. So why focus on the hinterlands? Because in an unbalanced way livable places get their own when it comes to new church plants, ministry initiatives, and the like. In other words, we don't need to be as intentional in desirable places as we do in the hinterlands.
What makes a hinterland? Simply this ... places where most don't want to go and plant churches. This could be urban neighborhoods, declining older suburban communities, isolated rural towns, smaller cities in economic decline, and the like. These are the kinds of places where people in many ways hope to leave from. Obviously, this is also subjective because one's hinterlands is another person's favorite place.
The bottom line is we need church planting in all places ... in wealthy enclaves to distressed low-income communities in decline. The point in all of this is that we need to be that much more intentional about mobilizing people for the hinterlands.