Ambitious churchgoers tend to assume too much about their own spirituality as they plan for their far off, unknown destinations. At the same time, they assume too little about the far-reaching effect of Spirit-led obedience right where they already are.
I myself cannot go abroad in good faith, because I would be wandering (maybe fleeing) away from an unreconciled home base. If all I know is this religious culture, then I'm in no condition to go elsewhere and tell other, far-off cultures about the kingdom of heaven. I say this not according to any fleshly unit of measurement, but from experience and God speaking to my conscience.
I've never planted a church in the United States, where I would assume that it should be easy! How can I go to another, hostile land under the label "church-planter" if the Spirit of God has never taught me how to plant a church in my own country? Again, this is not a discouraging new law, but rather an encouraging mindset that might lead us toward reconciled living and true, Spirit-led service.
Here in the United States, lots of people have already heard about Jesus and yet a single Christ-follower is extremely difficult to find. Are God's people here at all, or are there only cold buildings with pointy towers and stained glass? This country offers freedom of speech for all people, supported by the Constitution and even defended by the U.S. government, yet there is between little and zero sincere proclamation of God's groundbreaking gospel, to either individuals or publicly to the multitudes.
Missionaries desire far-off locations while they still feel that speaking to their next-door neighbor about Jesus Christ is a terrifying prospect. Granted, many churchgoers are sincere, but many only force themselves to speak to their neighbors about Christ out of religious duty or because they might feel bad if they didn't. Even on the home front, when outreach-minded churchgoers "share their faith," this often springs from sanctified guilt-tripping or because "their pastor told them to do it."
Constitutional law frees our mouths to speak out loud if we should so choose, but the Spirit of God has not made us free to speak spiritual truth with our daily lives.
Excuse my childish thinking, but why not try preaching the gospel here for starters? Call it a warm up for the "big game" across seas if you're still are stuck on thinking that God is impressed with man-made, political boundaries.
What, I wonder, is so intriguing about other countries? And why do we suppose that our stale American faith will work so much better in another country, where the culture and government and language are openly opposed to the gospel?
Mind you, I don't want to ask myself these questions. All this talk about being faithful right where I am is unwelcome news for me and my impressive plans for God. I do not want to hear that God's kingdom also applies to the United States and I don't want to come to grips with the fact that Christ is fully God in my own hometown. I don't want to hear that I should sincerely seek God's kingdom in the U.S. as a matter of first priority simply because I am American. And I really don't want to hear that God's kingdom is bigger than me or anything I can figure out on my own.