Say the word “Seattle” and you will hear endless complaints about the lack of sunshine, but that is not the real challenge of living in the Pacific Northwest. The countless days of dreary cloud-cover are only emblematic of the spiritual gloom that overshadows the hearts and minds of so many.
Unlike any other place I have lived, there is a spiritual oppression that seeks to overwhelm anyone who hopes to plant a church in the Northwest. Those who move there unprepared will leave devastated. I have many dear friends who came to Seattle with dreams of saving souls, only to leave with their faith shipwrecked on the shoals of a receding spirituality.
Make no mistake, church planting in the Pacific Northwest is spiritual warfare behind enemy lines. To prepare for the battle, there are two things that come to mind.
First, To Survive In Seattle, You Need:
A Spirit of Truth: Just this week, I had three emotionally devastating conversations with several brothers and sisters still living in Seattle. Every one of them has abandoned their stand for the truth of Scripture for the cause of social and political harmony. Before you come to the PNW, you had better have a steady prayer life, a strong support team, and a stalwart Faith that has been tried and tested true in the fires adversity.
A Spirit of Dedication: Those willing to compromise the Gospel, will find a ready following in the PNW. Seattle is a very spiritual place. The people are spiritual, but that does not mean they are willing to compromise their lifestyle for the sake of the Cross. If you chose to plant a church in the PNW, come with a dedication to the Scripture that has been battle tested (not to be confused with Seminary trained) and a long track record of successful evangelism among those who are deeply lost.
2 Tim. 4:3 (NLT) For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
To Thrive in Seattle, You Need:
A Spirit of Gentleness: If it is true that the meek will inherit the earth, than in Seattle, only the gentle of spirit will reap a Kingdom harvest. The culture of the Northwest does not respond well to hellfire and brimstone personalities. It is possible for such a person to cull a congregation from among the existing believers, but those who are running from Jesus need the touch of a shepherd’s hand and not the sting of a Pharisee’s stone.
A Spirit of Love: Seattle needs to see Faith in action. If you are unwilling to eat with the sinners or unable to walk alongside the lost, don’t plant in Seattle. In the PNW, love means a willingness to put aside politics, reject religion, sacrifice your personal opinions and stick to the foundations of what makes the Gospel great: sacrifice, suffering, and unyielding love.
Col 4:6 (NASB) Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.