Evangelical Christians are not ones to bury our heads in the sand. We take note of demographic shifts in neighborhoods, trends in education, broken relationships in families and communities, security issues in our country and others, and on and on. We study the world not to become like it, but to better understand the present gospel opportunities.

Indeed one of the four distinctives of evangelicalism, as noted by historian David Bebbington, is activism — the expression and demonstration of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts. Evangelicals don’t just think about the issues. We are doers and take to heart Peter’s challenge to “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12).

In this issue of Evangelicals magazine, we turn to a new phenomenon in American metropolitan areas: suburban affluence and urban poverty changing places. Churches would do well to prepare and adapt to these demographic shifts, as some — evidenced by two leading churches in this issue — are already doing.

We also look at opportunities presented by public education and other community development efforts. And we gaze inward at things that would strengthen our infrastructure for engagement: church and pastoral ethical guidelines, how best to equip volunteers, and how to account for contributions churches are making in their communities.

Let us be thoughtful about our engagement in the world. For a city (or a suburb) built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do we light a lamp to put it under a bowl. Instead we put it on a stand to give light to everyone in the house (Matthew 5:14-16).