After spending time in the South and the West and having preached in churches in both locales, there are clear differences between the two parts of the country. Particularly regarding the “Bible Belt,” there are things that these churches in the South don’t want to admit or change.
- Bible Belt churches are older and often in a rut or set in their ways. They’ve typically lost their burden for the next generation and the lost. They are dying because they are comfortable and don’t like change. Church plants in the West have to think of others and outside the box to survive and grow. Anybody and everybody is a potential member or new believer. They don’t grow by transfers as much as by evangelism.
- Rarely do you see lost people invited to churches in the Bible Belt. When I’ve been to church in the West, I’ve met multiple individuals and families who had been invited by someone. At least 40 people talked to me about people they were sharing Christ with. Often lost people come out of curiosity just to see what the difference is in their friends. Churches in the south want comfortable additions.
- Churches in the West have first-generation believers from all walks of life – various lifestyles, careers, addictions, personalities, and agendas all changed because someone told them about Jesus.
I guess we all have to decide if we want to be a part of a religious country club where we can pay our dues and be comfortable, or if we want to be part of a Jesus movement. Honestly, when you read of how Jesus related to tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners, He might be more comfortable in a church in the West than in the Bible Belt today.
As a pastor in the South, I refuse to let us be a typical Bible Belt church. We’re going to be a Jesus church or we will take the sign down. Jesus died for the lost, not for our comfort. Every pastor must lead their people to be broken about the things that break His heart.