My oldest son was reading an article the other day in the National Geographic about a city in Siberia which has exploded in growth over the past few decades due to its growing oil production. Because Debi and I lived in the former Soviet Union for two years after college, I’m always drawn to things happening in that part of the world. This article was particularly interesting as it seems that nothing ever really happens in Siberia, especially growth. But because of the natural resources and great leadership, this town which used to be not much more than wooden shacks 40 years ago has grown into a modern city of some 300,000 people. But the one thing that really ran through my head was, “Wow, someone needs to move there to plant a church.” If I were in another stage of my life, I would probably; (definitely) have looked into that possibility. But then it happened; the flesh fought back. I went outside where the wind was blowing a bazillion miles an hour and had second thoughts. Siberia? What do we know about Siberia? The gulag and COLD! So am I just getting old or is it the fact that I am still suffering from the same brokenness that we all suffer from? Is the issue just old fashion self-preservation? Yet Jesus said that if we are going to engage in Kingdom work, then we have to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him. So I wondered, why is it that when people start talking about church planting they always want to go to places that are comfortable, exciting, and “offer the greatest chances of success?” When it comes to supporting church planting, why do we always want to support projects with a lot of thrill while other places less spectacular are left alone? Post modern church plant in Madrid? That will sell. Duluth, MN? “Next!” Is this bent in direction a kingdom pursuit or more of a selfish thing? What about the COLD, hard places on this globe? They need to know the grace of Christ as well. What about the boring places in the world where there’s not a lot of “action” happening? I just wonder if we’re limiting our kingdom reach because of our own limits we put on church planting. Are our own profiles, our own standard, our own agendas getting in the way of God’s design?
I’ve got a friend named Mike who has been trying to get a church planted in Bismarck, North Dakota for years. But who wants to go to Bismarck? There’s no fanfare there, no palm trees, no babes in bikinis. But there are plenty of people there who desperately need the love of Christ. So who would go there? Well maybe someone who has a passion for Jesus and getting folks connected with Him no matter where they are. Maybe someone who sees what could be and is passionate about making that happen no matter what the cost. For all of us, maybe if we stop thinking about the flesh and start looking for open doors, passionate hearts, great needs, and divine connections above self-preservation we might see a whole lot more churches planted and people embracing the love of Christ. Maybe if we stopped prioritizing our man made strategies over the leading of the Holy Spirit we might actually reach people in places all over the world. Just maybe. Just maybe. So; anyone up for Siberia? I think I can get you connected.