You’ve seen the saying embroidered on pillows, and perhaps motivational speakers still tell people to “bloom where they’re planted”, but Alan Briggs in his book Staying Is the New Going: Choosing To Love Where God Places You (Nav Press 2015) takes it to a whole new level.
If you go to church on any kind of regular basis then you’ve heard about the “Great Commission”-- Jesus’ words to the disciples found in Matthew 28:18-20; you know that command to go into all the world making disciples. And there is a lot to be said for traveling the world, sharing the gospel with unreached people groups, but as Briggs points out, there are probably some of those unreached groups right in your own neighborhood, and sometimes the way to ‘go’ is to simply stay, to be there for the long haul. To build relationships and look for opportunities to share.
As Briggs wisely points out, there are more ways to share the gospel than by inviting someone to church. He met people where they were and with time, and perhaps a request to pick apples to make cider, neighbors and acquaintances become friends, and often become part of the kingdom of God.
In this easy-to-read book the author presents a theology of place, it’s nothing new: the prophet Jeremiah (29: 5-7) discussed the concept centuries before the birth of Christ: “"Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." (NIV)
But there’s more to it than just buying a house and letting the mortgage payment make you a part of the neighborhood, it’s all about getting to know, and becoming a part of, the story of that neighborhood.
Briggs makes several good points, things that we know but may have forgotten, things like church friends can mingle with you friends from outside of church. Things like unchurched people have to deal with life the same as church folk do, and when life happens, sometimes they need a shoulder to lean on. Things like every Christian is called to be missional, even if they are not a full time, professional, deployed-overseas-missionary.
I liked this book. I still want to go on a short-term mission trip, but it helped me realize that mission can be done on my block as well as half-way across the world; and for anyone who might be feeling guilty for not having traveled thousands of mile, this book will help you alleviate or eliminate that guilt.
I received a copy of the book form the publisher in exchange for my review. There was no requirement to provide a positive review.