The Major League Baseball season is upon us and playing First Base for the Texas Rangers this year is a man by the name of Prince Fielder. Fielder stands at 5’11’’ and weighs 275 pounds. That is a bit on the heavy side of most Major League baseball players and it is for that reason that Fielder plays First Base.
Imagine if Prince Fielder approached his manager before a game one day and asked him to play Shortstop. Fielder certainly was gifted with the ability to field ground balls and even throw them accurately across a field since all First Baseman have to be able to do such things to play everyday. So, in one sense, Fielder’s request is perfectly legitimate…yet, anyone that knows baseball would know that he would be resoundingly rejected. Why? Because his particular skill set is best suited for First Base, not Shortstop.
Now, should we conclude that Prince Fielder is somehow less important than the Shortstop? Of course not, a baseball team needs all types of gifted players to play their position in order to win the game. This is one of the unique aspects of baseball. You could have one of the best players in the league on your team but still have a losing record (See the 2013 Los Angeles Angels and Mike Trout).
In baseball, each position is needed and each position has different abilities. If you attempt to negate those positions or forget about the abilities needed to play those positions you will quickly find yourself among the leagues worse teams.
The same is true in church planting.
Evangelical leaders have rightly been calling men to go to the urban settings of North America in order to plant churches among those cities that are evidently under served. There have been innumerable amounts of good things that have come from this call, but it is good for us to consider that there have also been a great deal of bad things that have come as well.
Urban settings, particularly those outside the south, have, in recent history, been graveyards for potential church plants. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been poured into places like Boston, New York, and Los Angeles with very few sustainable churches in their wake. It wasn’t because the people leading those works were necessarily unfaithful or because they didn’t read the latest church-planting book.
Very possibly the reason why many of those works did not produce sustainable witnesses was because there were too many First Baseman looking to play Shortstop. That is, we often do not understand that just because a brother is qualified and willing does not mean that he should go to an urban environment.
Urban contexts have unique demands on ministers of the Gospel, though they do not demand a different Gospel.
The temptation in hearing this is to believe that the man who does go and thrive inside an urban environment is somehow better than the one that stays in a suburban context. This could not be any further from the truth.
If that is true that means that the people in New York City are better than the people in Lawrenceville, Ga…. an indisputable Biblical lie! I realize that many of us have internal value systems that rank an urban pastor over and above a rural, however this demands our repentance, not our regard.
Lets be more careful with our money and the lives of our brothers by loving them enough to assess not only their abilities, but their positions. Lets value every context because we value every person, not just the ones in the important cities. We need all people playing all of their appropriate positions in order to win the game…and win the game we will…it is promised!