Recently, Time shared the list of the most and least godly cities (which, incidentally, was updated here). Careful readers will hopefully find much to be encouraged about in it—there is much work to be done in America, and there are many who have not been reached with the gospel, so there’s much to be excited about. But there’s one item I hope missionaries and church planters ignore entirely:
Christian missionaries can apparently steer clear of Tennessee, as the report suggests the state is the most devout in the union. Chattanooga was found to be the most Bible-minded city in America, a title it won from last year’s victor, Knoxville.
I’ve got a lot of friends in Tennessee (in fact, we’re going for a visit in just a few weeks—you have been warned), and I’ve gotta say, there are some amazing churches and ministries in this fine state:
- LifeWay’s doing some amazing stuff, with the Gospel Project and a number of other initiatives;
- Ray Ortlund and Immanuel Church are seeking to “make the real Jesus non-ignorable,” (which, by the way, is one of the best mission statements ever);
- Josh Howerton, Matt Svoboda and the crew at The Bridge are doing great things down in Spring Hill.
Then there’s The Fellowship, Grace Community Church, Christ Community Church… and those are just a few of the ones I know about surrounding Nashville!
There are so many wonderful, gospel-loving, Jesus-proclaiming churches in a state like Tennessee that it’s easy to forget that there are still a whole lot more that are either soft on the gospel, or have abandoned it altogether. In my own homeland, Canada, we don’t have remotely close to the remaining cultural openness to Christianity that America does, but we still have many good, faithful churches.
And you know what those churches need?
They need more faithful churches around them.
They need more faithful brothers and sisters working alongside them, sharing the good news about Jesus, preaching the Scriptures unashamedly, shaking sleepy churches out of complacency, and rescuing people from the clutches of damnably apostate ones.
In our country, where there are tens of thousands of churches across the land, and yet anywhere between four and eight per cent of the population are evangelicals, and is home to the single largest unreached people group in North America, there is a great need for the gospel. In fact, it’s a need at least as great as that of many lesser developed nations. Though it was once so, a devout nation we are not.
Brothers, we must go out to all the nations. We dare not neglect the call to go to the ends of the earth and make disciples from every tribe, tongue and nation (Matt: 28:19-20).
But don’t ignore the “devout” nations, either.