How to tell whether you are called to your comfortable neighbourhood

More quotes from Francis Chan’s The Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, David C. Cook, 2009.

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“A lot of people in my church and in my travels tell me, “I believe that God has called me to Simi Valley.” Or Wichita. Or New York. Or Greenville. Or wherever. And that very well may be the case, but it could also be a cop out because you like where you live. You have a good job. The school district is safe and has high ratings. Your family lives close by (or perhaps far away, depending on your relationship with them). It makes sense that you are “called” to be there, right?

“And maybe you are called to be called to where you live, but if you say you are called to be in the place where you are a few questions need to be consider. For example, how would you be missed if you left this place? What would change? Basically what difference does your presence here make? Or as my youth pastor once asked me, what would your church (and the worldwide church) look like if everyone was as committed as you are? If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would the church be healthy and empowered? Or would it be weak and listless? …

“It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But it’s absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call there to settle in and live out your life in comfort and superficial peace. His purposes are not random or arbitrary. If you are still alive on this planet, it’s because he has something for you to do. He placed us on this earth for purposes that he orchestrated long before we were born (Ephesians 2:8-10) Do you believe you exist not for your own pleasure but to help people know the love of Jesus and to come fully alive in him? If so, then that will shape how you live your life in the place where you are.” (90-91)

“We are most alive when we are loving and actively giving of ourselves because we were made to do these things. It is when we live like this that the Spirit of God moves and acts in and through us in ways that on our own we are not capable of.” (96)
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5 thoughts on “How to tell whether you are called to your comfortable neighbourhood

  1. Making a good point, but is there some other question to ask than this: “If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would the church be healthy and empowered? Or would it be weak and listless?”

    The answer must always be that the church would be weak if everyone were like me, because God has so put us together that we are a body of many parts, and I cannot say to the rest, ‘I have no need of you.’ It would be weak and monstrous.

    I totally agree that we must consider where we should be and ask these questions motivated by gospel and its necessary outworkings of witness and church. I wonder though, how this fits: There also seems to be the principle to remain in the state/calling we were in when called, unless God makes it clear (by gospel conviction, particular interest or otherwise) that we’re to move on. If this applies to jobs, family situation, etc., might it not also apply to neighbourhood? How do you see this working out, Tim, with what Francis Chan is saying?

  2. Chan’s point, as I understand it, is not that everyone should start with a presupposition that they should move unless they feel called to stay. His point is that many use ‘calling’ as an excuse for middle-class comfort and complacency. Sure, some will go and others will stay. But those that stay need to be as sacrificial as those who go. For more on this see chapter 7 of my book Good News to the Poor</a.

  3. I listened to this book while on hols. – enjoyed the challenges it presented but did find it a little ‘lite’

  4. excellent quote tim! love chan’s ministry…it is neat to see the transformation that he has gone through. from big sunday event kind of church to thinking about planting a new church that is focused on gospel, mission and community…sounds like the kind of stuff i hear from you brother!let me know when you are back on the east coast, would love to see you.

  5. I wrestle with questions like this all the time. In certain sectors it’s as if you should feel guilty if you’re not out doing……..

    It seems to me, when need to be content and patient and yet vigilant. I am convinced God will bring things into our daily seemingly mundane lives. If we’re dying to self, concentrated on worship the opportunities will come.

    I sense with others there is push to ‘get busy’….but I sometimes wonder how much if that is in the flesh. I don’t mean to attack anyone’s zeal. I don’t doubt the sincerity of many, I just wonder if it is always according to knowledge.

    How one views the Kingdom of God seems to profoundly affect how one deals with such issues. We are in one sense to be quite restless and discontent, but the home we’re looking for is not in the next state or county. I hope I would be just as discontent or restless there.

    I say this as one who all too often has been discontent with my present situation and geography. Providence has kept me here and though frustrating at times, the lessons have been profitable. Years have passed which seemed unfruitful to me, and yet now some small harvests are being reaped.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    John A.

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