Being a Missionary in a Secular World

Imagine you grew up in a Christian home in a conservative suburb in a normal "middle-america" home. Over time, you slowly feel God calling you to a different area of the country, and you end up in the highly-secularized city of Boston. When you first came to Boston, you came with what you thought were all the answers to the unanswered questions these "secular" people had. But it didn't take long for you to realize that the questions weren't just unanswered; they were unasked. And they weren't Questions. That is, your "secular" neighbors aren't looking for "answers" - for some bit of information that is missing from their mental maps. To the contrary, they have completely different maps. You've realized that instead of nagging questions about God or the afterlife, your neighbors are oriented by all sorts of longings and "projects" and quests for significance. There doesn't seem to be anything "missing" from their lives - so you can't just come proclaiming the good news of Jesus who fills their "God-shaped hole."

The previous paragraph was adapted from the first paragraph of James K. A. Smith's How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor. Charles Taylor is a prestigious Canadian philosopher who has really put his finger on the secular world in which we currently inhabit.

Being a missionary in Boston (or Brooklyn or San Fransisco, etc) is different from our traditional views of what a missionary is. It's harder in many ways. Not only do you have to plant the seeds of the gospel, you have to work through so many differing ways of viewing the world that you'd have an easier time planting a garden in a parking lot.

But if you're a Christian, and you're in Boston, this is the work that the Lord has called you to! And "with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

- Pastor Fletcher

Fletcher Lang