This weekend I spent time visiting my family in Pittsburgh. Of course, on Sunday we attended their church. My parents are faithful members of a Southern Baptist church on the south-side suburbs of the city.
I regularly attended churches in the South for the first 16 years of my life. Spending the weekend in Pittsburgh (a city I lived in for five years) prompted me to consider some differences in the church culture from the North to the South, and the consequential needs found in the Northeast.
Here are four observations.
- Lack of resources. The North is statistically more unchurched than the South. So, finding gifted members to serve in a variety of roles is a difficult task to say the least.
- Expositional preaching is scarce. There is a need for expositional preaching in all parts of the country, and the North is no exception. Few trained men find themselves moving from seminaries to cities where there is promise of hard work and little fruit. This leads to a deficit in expositional preaching for these churches with small budgets and great needs.
- A different church planting strategy. I’ve spent the last seven years either living/traveling to Pittsburgh regularly, so I’ve had a front row seat to some of the issues church planters have to face while trying to establish a new congregation in a very un-Baptist context. Traditional strategies struggle to work there. Plain and simple. We have to get creative and lower our expectations when working in a foreign land.
- A disinterest in the North(east). Ministry isn’t sexy, but even the idea of ministry in the North is ugly. It’s hard, gritty work that takes years of patience and resilience. This tends to scare some called men away from working in these cities, even though the harvest is ripe.
I write this post with the hope of spurring some qualified men to think about ministering in the North(east). Although this context is difficult, there is much work to be done for the Gospel there.
If this challenge interests you, contact me and I can point you in the right direction.