What You Are Doing

In the evangelical culture I grew up in, overseas missions held an enviable mystique. Serious and devoted Christians were almost *expected* to become missionaries to some unknown, unreached land. Today, this pressure has shifted to church planting. Perhaps this is because of the technological shrinking of the world or the late realization that the United States has quietly become a mission field itself.

Sometimes people tell me, “I really admire and respect what you are doing.” Or “I couldn’t do what you are doing.” It always feels like a slightly odd thing to say. What are they talking about? I suppose it’s the fact that I’m a white church planter in a majority black community trying to intentionally reach blacks and whites with the gospel. And I’m a middle class church planter attempting to include both rich and poor in our fledgling church community.

I really hate pointing this out, but there’s a bit of unintended arrogance in those statements. The idea of “what you are doing” betrays the belief that white middle class suburban communities are not as needy, broken, or sinful. Full disclosure: I have the same deep-seated way of thinking. Let’s repent of such attitudes. God’s grace covers even our unintentional sins.

Consider this, my friends. God the Father has placed you in your household, your neighborhood, your school, your soccer league, your workplace, and your city to speak and live out the Gospel. God the Son has called you to join Him in his mission to “make disciples of all nations.” God the Spirit will empower you to boldly love your neighbor as yourself with the truth of God’s Word and heartfelt deeds of mercy.

There’s nothing special about “what we are doing” in Orangeburg. You are doing the same things.

4 thoughts on “What You Are Doing

  1. Josh Patterson says:

    JP – We relate to this a lot. As foster/adoptive parents we get similar “comments.”. Such as…”I could never give them back,” “I could never say goodbye,” “I would love to but need to wait until my kids are older,” or “I always thought about doing that.” Thanks for sharing this post.

    Just allow God the space in your life to do something big, to take you on an adventure, go some place that seem a little “off” or do something that might seem unpractical or inconvenient. Following Him will never be comfortable, that’s for sure!

  2. A. David Griffin, M.Div. says:

    Brother, I was with you until your last sentence. To suggest they are reaching or better yet – stepping across cultural and class boundaries such as you presented yourself as doing is a little, uh , passively naïve and accommodating at best. Those same statements are said to me by Black traditional pastor’s. But not for a moment do I – or they – infer they are doing it also. The fact that they recognise the tremendous challenges that are inherent to church planting – in any context – reveals their sincere appreciation, which is many times couched in a refusal or resignation “to do it” themselves.

    Therefore, when I consider how those who are assessing your efforts, commitment, and courage to do what you’re doing as unbelievable, or “admirable”, I hear their sincere acknowledgement and the high value they place upon it. Oh yes, and I suggest if we listen – ever so quietly – we may hear their silent praise to God that they are not called, compelled, challenged, or even concerned to do it themselves.

    Brother, again you have tapped into a recent conversation I had with the Lord. Bless you.

    * Disclaimer: I read your piece three to ensure I wasn’t misreading or reading into it.
    If I did, please forgive me. I can certainly empathize with your premise and general supposition.

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