Here we sit, three years into Send North America, and San Diego is without a major partnering church. Thirty of our send cities have amazing partners, and some of them have multiple partnerships. Why not San Diego?
San Diego is one of those places that everyone loves. It’s beauty and reputation is unparalleled. Being known as the biggest small town in America, it is regularly referred to as “America’s Finest City.” That is the problem. It suffers the same missional fate as places like Alaska and Hawaii. I know because I live there. Let me share with you, from my experience, what torments me about San Diego; it’s what people say when you tell them you live there. The dialog sounds something like this.
“So Rick, where is it that you live?”
“Must be nice … suffering for Jesus”
If I hear it again I am going to scream! It is time for us to realize something deeply spiritual about what we think is a light-hearted compliment. It’s not! San Diegans are dying. The lostness is profound and we desperately need church planting partners to push back the darkness and despair in this city. Those well meaning words are ones in which our enemy finds room to work, or should I say that our churches find an excuse not to.
We need fearless champions.
San Diego’s biggest hindrance to successful partnerships is the lack of champions who are willing to overcome the fear of putting the need out there for their congregations to hear. Everyone is afraid their motivations will be second guessed… “Sure you’re going to do missions…” We need champions that are bold enough to stand in front of their people and suggest a partnership with San Diego void of the fear that smaller minds in their midst might second guess their motives. San Diego is spiritually dying, and we need champions that will change the dialog to something that looks more like this:
“Suffering for Jesus?! Dear brother (sister), in San Diego they are suffering without Jesus! Won’t you go with me? Sure, San Diego is beautiful, but so is the single mother who is on the verge of poverty and goes to bed each night without hope for her future. Yes, the climate is the best in the world, but it is also a climate ripe for an outpouring of God’s Spirit as you and I go and share about Jesus! Let’s do this humbling and awesome work together!”
Echoing in the back of my mind, every time I am said to be “suffering for Jesus” is a dialog worthy of inclusion in the Screwtape Letters. I can imagine Screwtape writing to Wormwood saying;
“My dear Wormwood,
Manipulate the system so that our masses move to the world’s most beautiful locations. Once they live there, they will be invisible to His church. Even so, should His church actually find them, they will be powerless to reach them because of the fear of perceived motivations. Dear nephew, move with stealth among the church, whisper to them in their pews. Cause them to judge one another’s motives. Fill them with doubts of their own motivations and the surety that their peers feel the same. This will be our victorious moment and render them powerless to reach those we have claimed. These souls shall be ours, much to the glory of our father, the evil one.
Your affectionate uncle Screwtape.”
Church, it is time to push back lostness in San Diego. It is time to change the conversation when well meaning brothers and sisters say these things. It is time to repent from saying these things ourselves. We serve the greater master and our master demands that we win San Diego for Jesus!
Are you our champion?
2015 UPDATE: First Baptist Bossier has taken the challenge to be a lead partner. Praise God. They broke through the “Perception Barrier.” Hopefully the first of many. Are you next?