Pioneers or Settlers


We’ve all heard stories about the westward expansion of the United States.  Leading the way were the pioneers.  They were the forerunners who preceded all others exploring the uncharted territories. Their ambition was to investigate every valley, climb every mountain, traverse every desert, cross every river, and face every foe as they explored the land of opportunity that lay before them.  They were adventurers, ready to face danger and quite possibly even death in their quest to conquer the new frontier.   

 After the pioneers came the people we call settlers.  When a pathway was created and territories mapped out, caravans of horse drawn wagons took colonists on a westbound trek looking for a place to establish a community and raise a family.  When such a place was discovered the settlers pitch tents and then erected homes.  Then they built towns, stake out farmlands, and began  settlements.  Though willing to face danger if it came their way, they had no desire to go out and place themselves in harm’s way. They had no desire to explore the next valley or climb the next peak.  They were more interested in safety and security then with adventure and excitement. 

That’s the difference between pioneers and settlers.  Pioneers are explorers, seeking to go where no one had gone before.  Settlers are different.  They seek safety.  They avoid risking life and limb preferring the shelter and security of the settlement to the adventurous danger of uncharted territories.

 I wonder if this might be part of what ails the western church.  We’ve become settled – when the call of God is to blaze new trails for the sake of the Kingdom in the world in which we’ve been planted.

 Maybe we’ve become too timid and content.

2 Responses to “Pioneers or Settlers”

  1. Trailblazing is a great goal. Some folks are comfortable doing it just that way – blazing a trail – fast and furious. Others are more guarded for whatever reason and change has to come more slowly. The trail is still blazed, it’s just a little less fiery and a whole lot slower. I’m not sure which way is right. But I tend to be one of those that is a little more guarded.

    Sometimes caution isn’t a bad thing. I know many churches who have jumped into HUGE projects before the congregants, pastor and mainly God were ready for them to do so. Can you say financial difficulty and stress? There are others who tirelessly and patiently save up their resources to ‘blaze their trail’ and when it finally happens, the process is much less stressful because all involved were *ready*. Don’t we do this in daily life as well as in our spiritual lives too? We live in a Credit Card Society… Instant gratification.

    • billnieporte says:

      What a wonderful reflection. I do think that some churches jump in without counting the cost. In fact, a big church in Charlotte did that. Built a huge building, but had few attendees. Guess they thought, “If we built it, they will come.” Didn’t work out too well for them, as I recollect.

      More prevelant, IMHO, are those churches that are declining rapidly, but seem settled in their seats. Their aim is simply to die before the church does. There is nothing creative, energetic, or life-enhancing. The mott: “We’re just holding on!”

      The predominately unreached culture in which we live needs a more courageous and creative church.

      That said, the settlers pay the bill. Maybe there needs to be a partnerhsip between the two.

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