If you are prayerfully considering where God would have you plant a church, I hope to be of some help to you. Maybe - just maybe - God is directing your path toward a little known town in a little known state, and you’re having a difficult time with it.
Do you know why I think we so often miss what God is doing? I think it’s because we don’t know what to look for. We are looking for something strategic. We look for what is logical. We are looking for a right-side-up kingdom.
The Upside-Down Kingdom
The Kingdom of God is an upside-down kingdom. What I mean by that is that when we look at the Kingdom of God from our perspective, it looks upside-down (so, perhaps we are the ones that are upside-down). I’m sure you would agree that God doesn’t do things the way we would do them. He uses people we would never pick and means we would never choose. In God’s Kingdom what looks like defeat is often victory, and the way up is down.
Think about how Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount. It is a clear declaration of the upside-down-ness of the Kingdom of God. "Blessed are the poor in spirit." "Blessed are those who mourn." "The meek will inherit the earth." "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on account of Jesus." We don’t think this way!
The people of Jesus’ day didn’t think that way either. That’s why they missed the Messiah. They weren’t looking for an upside-down Kingdom. Their long-awaited King was right there in front of them, and they crucified him. They never expected a lowly servant riding on a donkey. But then, the Kingdom is often very unexpected.
God may be calling you to plant a church in Vermont. I thank God for the recent resurgence of church planting in our largest cities. I’m glad there are Christians moving their lives into cities in order to reach and influence culture for the sake of Christ. But that might not be God’s will for you. And I would hate for you to miss it simply because you think it’s not strategic to go to an unknown town in the often forgotten state of Vermont. You might as well throw that excuse in the trash.
If we’re honest we often miss the Kingdom because it’s easy to miss if you’re looking for the wrong things. Think of some of these upside-down truths about the Kingdom:
In God’s Kingdom the way to life is through death. (John 12:24)
Loss is gain. (Luke 17:33)
The last are first. (Mark 10:31)
Weakness is strength. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Slaves are free. (Romans 6:18)
The humble are exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
Servants lead. (Matthew 20:27)
Small is big. (Matthew 13:31-32)
Don’t let your desire to be greatly used of God turn you away from planting in a rural New England town. I know it doesn’t sound strategic. In the upside-down Kingdom, tiny little mustard seeds have enormous potential. Remember that the greatest work God ever accomplished on this earth began in the little, rural town of Bethlehem.
Ben Presten is a Regular Contributor to Vermont Church Planting’s Blog. Ben has planted two churches in Vermont, and he now serves as pastor of New King Church in South Burlington, VT. He and his wife Tiffany have five children.