For several years now, brothers have been coming to me asking a similar question, “Where are the greatest needs in the United States where I should plant a church?”
My immediate response usually is something like: “Go to the 300,000 Indian Hindus in New York. The 60,000 Somalis in Columbus. Or, consider the 60,000 Punjabi in New York. How about the 20,000 Yemeni just down the road from them? The 18,000 Pashto in San Jose? Serve among the 12,000 Kurds in Nashville. Maybe the 11,000 Saudis near Dearborn?”
(All of these being unreached people groups, some with few to no known believers among them.)
And the general response to me? That deer in the headlights look.
And when it happens, I feel that a shock to the system has occurred and a moment is needed to recover, reorient, and reengage in the conversation on a different level.
And I often think, why? Why is this a common reaction? Is it because:
- this many internationals cannot be in the United States?
- unreached people groups are not in this country?
- church planting is not about planting churches from out of the harvest but beginning with long-term Kingdom citizens like us?
- anyone desiring to serve as a church planter in North America should not be a missionary?
- cross-cultural disciple making only takes place overseas?
- such needs don’t exist here?
- there are few equipping and support systems in place for those doing such labors?
- such challenges are only to come at missions conferences, urging people to go to other countries?
And when I ponder why evangelicals often respond this way, I also find myself with that frustrated look of a deer in the headlights.
Brothers and sisters, it is long past time for North American evangelicals to get out of the headlights, open our eyes to the realities around us, and change our language, missiologies, methods, strategies, structures and organizations when it comes to making disciples of all nations. What is it going to take in your circles of influence to see such change? What is it going to take in mine?
Let’s lift up our eyes and look at the fields . . . and stop staring into the headlights.
(image credit: Microsoft Office)