When I shared the news of my engagement last November, one friend wrote to say he was very happy for me, but he wondered if I might be squandering my talents on a small church and said the megachurch congregation where he had recently preached seemed more like the congregation I should be impacting as a pastor’s wife.
Matt has received similar questions from well-intentioned people inviting him to lead larger churches or questioning why someone with two master’s degrees would serve a community where many people stopped their education after high school.
Why are smaller churches seen as farm teams for the majors of the megachurch?
Why are we excited about planting McChurches in the suburbs and churches in thriving cities and even churches in the inner city but we have very little interest in the hundreds (thousands?) of blue-collar, declining neighborhoods around them? I’m a big fan of planting churches anywhere but it’s curious that we have largely ignored a major socioeconomic sector of the American people. Just because it’s harder and we don’t have a formula for it doesn’t mean these people don’t need Jesus. Is the church allowed to have the equivalent of flyover country?
Furthermore, if we’re good at having churches in upper-middle-class, white, professional areas with lots of young families, then why do we need our sharpest leaders there? Why isn’t that where a young guy goes to cut his teeth before going to less-familiar, more-perseverance-needed mission fields?
And my church history is rusty, but didn’t Augustine serve a little area in modern-day Algeria and still manage to influence the world for centuries?
These are sincere, if snarky, questions. My hunch is we just want to go where we know we can succeed, and the problem is we have defined success not as faithfulness to a call or longevity in ministry or even individual life transformation, but in attendance numbers and giving potential. Am I being too cynical? What am I missing?