Why would anybody want to move to Maine to plant a church? After all, the winters are long with an average of 75” or so of snow per winter. A typical Nor’easter—excuse me, Nor’eastah—can drop about 12 inches of snow in the matter of a day. On the spiritual side of things, those seeking to plant a church in Maine are often warned concerning the spiritual climate that is akin to the weather half of the year—ice cold.
The truth is the spiritual and physical climates in Maine are demanding. Seasonal depression was a joke, in my eyes, until we moved to Maine in 2013. After all, Maine has dubbed itself “vacationland” with the slogan “the way life should be.” How bad could it be?
Spiritually speaking, the numbers are in, and they aren’t pretty. According to a study done by the Association of Religion Data Archives, the numbers are absolutely miniscule in regard to those who, at minimum, are members or attendees of local churches. No study or poll, of course, is able to examine the condition of the heart, yet it goes without saying the numbers of those who are truly converted are likely less (maybe far less?) than those who attend.
Despite the chill of the weather, and despite the cold spiritual climate, the famous words of our Lord continue to ring: the fields are white for harvest. A smile comes to my face as I read those words from Christ and see a pun. The fields are often snow white in Maine! Spiritually speaking, though, they are also snow white.
Mainers don’t often flinch when they find out I’m a pastor. They don’t necessarily hush their foul language. They don’t pretend to be something they are not. Truth be told, I like this about them, and it shows how white the fields truly are. The fields here don’t pretend to be spiritual as you may find in other parts of the country like “the Bible belt.” The fields here know they don’t know God, and, although they may not realize it, their words and actions declare how vividly white they truly are.
In light of all of this, why should somebody uproot their family, move to a state that will forever refer to you as “from away,” and plant or replant a church here? Because although the work is hard, and the fields that we’re plowing are filled with granite, there is a current and obvious move of God, and we desperately need more laborers to accompany this move. To my knowledge, a new church started in Bath, ME, just a couple weeks ago, and another one will officially launch in Bucksport, ME, this coming Sunday. These are exciting times, but more laborers are needed.
Many planters are flocking to the greater Portland area and rightly so. There are approximately 500,000 people who make up that region of the state, yet there are miles upon miles of rural and coastal towns that contain the rest of the 800,000 people, and they have limited gospel witness. As you drive in these areas you see quintessential church buildings that are the stuff of postcards and calendars, and it gives a bit of a false impression that each of these towns has a gospel witness. The reality is, however, that these buildings often house congregations that have long ago turned toward liberalism, or they are a generation or so from dying out.
It is for these reasons that we seek to plant and replant as many churches in Maine as possible, and we continue to trust the Lord of the harvest to answer our prayers as we pray for him to continue to bring about more fruit and more laborers for the work of its harvest.
Article by: Brandon Dyer