Aug

15

2012

Jared C. Wilson|9:00 am CT

No, Ma’am — New England Does Need Conversion

Here is an interesting opinion piece from a four-year resident of New England — a pastor of a UCC church — claiming New England isn’t the mission field many of us are claiming it to be. There’s more than a few problems with the piece, but here are the main ones:

1. Rev. Heath redefines what it means to be an evangelical — her definition skews more good advice than good news — so it’s no surprise she redefines the level of need. Her gospel is about people being nice to each other, so of course it seems unnecessary in a place where people are mostly nice. (See #4.)

2. Rev. Heath claims that evangelicals interested in New England as a mission field don’t believe Jesus is already here. This may be true for some, but it is not true for any evangelicals that I know. Jesus is King of New England, just as he’s King of the Universe. This is what we are proclaiming, actually. So we are not bringing Jesus; we are bringing the news of him and his kingdom being “at hand”!

3. After 4 years in New England, Rev. Heath claims to speak for all New Englanders in saying “We’re all set, thank you very much,” ignoring the many evangelicals who have been here for decades who disagree with her. Mission in New England is not merely or mainly about outsiders coming in but native New England believers being galvanized into indigenous mission, praying for revival, and becoming more and more broken about the need around them. I know many long-time New Englanders whose years of experience here trumps Rev. Heath’s (and mine!) who have been praying for just the level of interest we’ve been seeing lately, and more. I trust their word as more authoritative and experienced than hers.

4. Rev. Heath casts the wide swath of New Englanders as basically good, decent, respectful people. I agree. By and large, New England — and especially southern Vermont, where Rev. Heath and I both are clergy — is full of nice, upstanding, hardworking, friendly people. We only differ in that I side with the Scriptures in seeing Christless moralism as something to repent of and be saved from.

5. Rev. Heath is a lesbian minister in a largely liberal denomination. Her belief that conversion from sin to Christ is not necessary in New England is not surprising and should dissuade nobody in or out of New England from gospel-centered ministry here.

|

 
 
 

4 Comments

  1. Amen. Thank you for prioritizing NE.

  2. “We’re all set, thank you very much”. All set for what? To be separated as chaff?

  3. So if missionaries aren’t needed where people are already generally nice, then the proper mission fields would be cultures and locations where the bad, mean people live? That strikes me as more offensive than the universal biblical declaration that all are sinful…it puts us into the judgment seat to declare only some folks as needing the gospel. (Of course–just to make them nice, not saved or holy.)

  4. As a native New Englander, I can relate to feeling somewhat bothered by church planters coming here from other parts of the USA. It seems like almost every preacher had a southern accent, and an almost constant theme of anti-intellectualism. But at the same time, I’ve longed for a community of Jesus followers who truly believed and obeyed Him. When church planters resemble more of the “Celtic Way of Evangelism”, natives are much more responsive, because we don’t feel like our entire culture is incompatible with the Gospel. Missionaries who are able to demonstrate being FOR us and WITH us, instead AGAINST US but also FOR us…..that changes everything. It’s like Jared Wilson recently preached, we change culture by being all about Jesus, not all about change. When New Englanders are exposed to authentic revival of a gospel-centered life, they will not be able to debate it. They will be attracted to the fragrance of Christ, and perceive the counterfeit they’ve settled for. That is what happened to me.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*