“I’m loving college, yet finding a church I like is hard.” One of my students said as he visited his home church during his first fall break of Freshman year. I responded, “If there’s one thing I can encourage you with right now in your search it’s this: find a church and plant yourself there. All four years if you can. You will not only have a great impact, but you’ll grow more in one place than being spread out, and greater opportunities will open up for you as you plant yourself.”
Why did I give this advice specifically? Truthfully, it’s because I’ve learned this at the expense of not being planted.
Being from a pastor’s home I’ve become used to uprooting and adjusting to a new place quickly. In the 18 years living at home, I moved 5 times. Looking back, I can honestly say I enjoyed it. Sure there were some hard moments. Leaving friends and leaving spots our family came to enjoy. There were some great things about it too. New experiences, new friends and moments that brought our family closer together as we started a new journey. Now that I’m older, I find myself always looking for the next place while being planted and I think in large part it’s because I’ve become used to it.
Everyone has reasons why they uproot and start new things, whether it’s a new major, school, job or life altogether. Yet I believe the root desire of it all is to find the “perfect” place. As a millennial I’ve seen and experienced moments of being caught up in the wind, trying to find the best out there. I think we’ve fallen victim to this consumerism mentality our culture has sold us. This can affect many things, such as the church we attend, places we serve, or the jobs we have. “What’s best for me?” has replaced, “What can I do for you?”
For many, as soon as something comes our way that we don’t like, whether a philosophy or disagreement, we are quick to see where the “next best thing” is for us. You will never find the perfect place. Each place will have its own set of difficulties to deal with. If our desire in life is to find what’s best for us, then we’ll have a new job or environment every year. If our desire is to see lives impacted through the gospel, despite what difficulties comes our way, then we’ll understand the best way of doing so is to be faithful and planted in the place God has you.
Look at the leaders you look up to most. Who are the ones you read and feel energized by? Take a look at the years they’ve been planted in their church or community. I’ve found those who do most are the ones who’s roots are the deepest. May that be a challenge to many young leaders. Don’t always look for the next big thing out there because it doesn’t exist. Instead be planted and create a culture that becomes what you want to see.
I write this as someone who’s not been perfect in this. In college I went to five churches in four years. The longest I attended one of those was a year and a half. I also am writing this a few months into my third ministry position in four years. In some ways, I made an impact in the areas I’ve been, but the impact I could’ve made would be so much greater if I focused on being faithful. I can at times feel the affects of not being in one place for the long haul and I’ve had to get real with myself by switching my mindset as I go forward. My goal now is to stay planted, be content with where I am and grow my roots deep in my community.