I didn’t start off trying to be the pastor of an established bible belt church. In the early days of my calling into ministry, I always imagined I’d be out on the Mission field somewhere, taking the gospel into the deepest darkest reaches of the world. Somehow I ended up here. Early on, I had a picture in my mind of what it might look like to be the pastor of an established Baptist Church in the bible belt, and I didn’t like it. Sitting in my study, comfortable, except for the tie that I kept close by in case a deacon dropped by unannounced. It was not my idea of taking the gospel to the nations. It didn’t seem as Christ-like to me as going to the majority world and living in poverty for the sake of the Gospel. But this is where I ended up. I didn’t “sell-out” or get off track, I don’t think I settled for the American Dream instead of the pursuing the Kingdom of God, it’s just that as I went through college and my early years in ministry, it just naturally began to take this shape. And I’m thankful for what God has given me.
So here is my epiphany. I am in the Mission field and you are too. We are in one of the dark, largely unreached corners of the globe, but what makes the darkness in our context so insidious, is that a lot of it looks like light. We live in a world where many people are caught up in a false form of Christianized idolatry, a religion that has all the form but none of the power. We have potlucks, “Gospel Sangin’s”, and good preaching, and there’s nothing wrong with those things. But the reality is, that most of the people who live in my neighborhood don’t really understand who God is, and many that do have so much else going on that the gospel isn’t impacting their lives like the bible says it’s supposed to. But everything’s fine, right? I file in, fill my spot in the pew, and then file on to get back to the business of “real life.” Sometimes I even go on Wednesday night. I’m living for Jesus, right?
I think that we are going to need to begin approaching life as a Believer in the Bible Belt the same way that our older brothers and sisters in the faith approached taking the gospel to the unreached heathen on the other side of the world. People are living in darkness; 70% of my neighbors rarely if ever go to church, and I am becoming more and more convinced that many of those who do are no more worshipping the Christ of the bible than the unconverted masses who have never heard his name. Church, we are in the mission field. The lost are in our neighborhoods, in our families, and in many cases in our own Churches. If our lives are going to have the same kind of Kingdom impact as the lives of people like Lottie Moon, Willliam Carey, David Brainerd, George Liele and the countless others who came before us, they are going to have to start taking on some of the same characteristics as there’s did. Most importantly a passion that all might hear the Gospel. From the man in Africa who has never heard the Gospel, to the man in North Carolina, teaching Sunday School, who has heard it thousands of times but never fully given himself to it.