Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

The English punk rock band The Clash had one hit song in 1981 that became an instant classic, perhaps because the question it asked resonates so deeply with many of us: “Should I stay, or should I go”?
So, my Navigator friend, should you stay? Should you root in the place you are planted, bear generational fruit so that the very place is transformed? Is staying the new going? Or should you go? Is there a place of service that could be more critical to the mission or a location where you could better partner with others toward greater fruitfulness? Does God want us to remain where He planted us? Or does He want us available to go to any part of His harvest field? I’m planning to write about this over the next several weeks because I want us to consider the question from several points of view.
In seeking to answer this question, we need to consider our calling as Navigators, we need to think about the generations of laborers that we serve, and we need to think about our own stage of life, giftedness, and ministry contribution. If we are salaried Navigator Representatives, of course, the needs of the organization and what our leaders think also play a role in this. Most important, we must make decisions based on the values of the Kingdom. Some of those values are community, service, sacrifice, love, justice, and mercy. The highest Kingdom value is that Jesus is the King. He is Lord. We look to Him to guide decisions such as whether to stay or go.
Let’s consider Jesus for a few minutes. Does He lead us to stay or to go? His example could lead us to stay. The incarnation means that Jesus grew up in a place and neighborhood. People knew Him. Yes, Jesus traveled during His ministry, but because this travel was on foot (or donkey), most experts believe that He did not exceed a 50-mile radius during those travels. While His parents were refugees in Egypt when He was an infant because of the threat of violence, He stuck close to home during His ministry years.
The incarnation also means that Jesus left heaven and went to earth. That is the ultimate missional move. He came to this world, but He was not of this world. He came from heaven and that is where He returned (but He’s coming back). So, the life of Jesus demonstrated both the value of staying and the value of going.
The final command that Jesus gave to His followers is to make disciples of all nations. This commission says to go. Or does it? Actually, the focus in Matthew 28:19 is not on the going, but on the making of disciples as you go. In Acts 1:8, Jesus outlines the progress of the gospel from Jerusalem to the remotest parts of the earth. If Acts 1:8 was a command of Jesus, it sure wasn’t obeyed as one. It took persecution and a lot of supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to get the gospel to move beyond Jerusalem and into the nations.
In Neighbors, we emphasize incarnational living and rootedness in the place where you are planted. This is in harmony with Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to remain in the situation to which they were called (see 1 Corinthians 7) and with God’s command to the exiles through Jeremiah to build houses, settle down, and plant gardens (see Jeremiah 29:5). We emphasize this because we believe that God’s plan is for the vast majority of His people to live this way. This is how the power of the gospel permeates our neighborhoods, cities, and culture.
At the same time, we Navigators are apostolic. That is, we serve a mobile movement of the gospel. Our staff—especially our Navigator Reps—must be willing to travel or to move for the sake of the gospel.
Jesus commended the faith of a Roman soldier who made this statement: “I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this or that,’ they do it” (Luke 7:7–8 NLT). Might we have that same heart attitude.
Should we stay, or should we go? The short answer is that we must maintain the attitude of the servant who happily stays or goes based on what the master wants.

Al Engler is the director of Navigators Neighbors and Navigators Workplace. This article is part of a series on Frequently Asked Questions regarding neighborhood ministry. To contact him or to learn more about his ministry, click here.