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Why I Left the Bible Belt and Moved to NYC (and You Should Too)

Jesus told us to “go into all the world.” He said be salt and light. He said fish for men. He said the harvest is plentiful and the workers few.

What are we doing clumping together in saved places?

You might say, “Well, what about people like your friend Matt? Clearly there are people to be saved in Huntsville, Ala.” And to that I’d say this: Matt almost didn’t become a Christian because of the Christians in North Alabama. He was exhausted by the judgmental signs and the obvious division. He didn’t know which church to try, and when he tried one and hated it he hesitated to try again. Matt didn’t need more Christians. He needed better Christians.

As far as I can tell, Christians are better when they spread out a little, when they have a clear sense of mission and a sizable mission field to keep them busy. When they don’t spend so much time bumping up against one another.

So, am I saying you should move? Am I saying you should pack up your life and move away from your family and quit your job and buy a house in Detroit or L.A.?

Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Of course there are exceptions. A few exceptions. Of course some of you have health problems or six kids and need to be near family. Some of you are doing great, sacrificial kingdom work with significant results right in the middle of Nashville. Some of you make a TON of money in Birmingham and send it all to churches in Africa or India. I get that. I’m not talking to you. We don’t all have to move.

But some of us do. A lot of us. Many more of us than are willing.

Friends, I’m not asking you to plant a church. I’m asking you to move out of the Bible Belt and attend a church that’s already there. I’m not even asking you to move to a big city or a bad school district (though those are worthy callings). I’m just asking you to, at the very least, move to the safe suburbs of San Francisco or Phoenix or Boise and live like Jesus.

It’s not OK for me to meet a person who has never met a Christian at a party in Brooklyn. It’s not OK for Christians to be so under-represented in socially liberal states that they’re easily made into stereotypes and caricatures. It’s not OK for me to spend an entire year church-shopping in Dallas while my friends in Vermont drive into another state to attend the closest church to their house.

Will it be inconvenient to move? Yes. Will the church you find in your new place have all the programs your suburban Kentucky church did? Nope. Will your kids have as many God-loving friends. Probably not. Will there be a Chick-fil-a? Can’t guarantee it.

But you’ll have a chance to do the most important kingdom work there is, carrying God’s light to dark places, partnering with God to rescue people waiting for your help.