Small Town/Small Church Leaders
October 19, 2011
I just spent the last few days at the The Sticks Conference with a group of leaders who answered the call to do ministry in the small towns and villages that dot our country. Doing ministry in small town USA more than likely won't land you a speaking engagement at one of the major pastor's conferences we flock to every year, but these leaders are to be praised for their hard work and determination.
Doing ministry in the sticks isn't viewed as sexy, vogue, or hip like ministry in the city. So, many flee, avoid and loss sight of the value of bringing a fresh expression of the Gospel to these dry places.
Sadly, over the last few years, a majority of church organizations/denominations have decided to turn away from planting efforts in these small towns and focus solely on the city. Honestly, who can blame them? According to the latest census data approximately 81 percent of our nations inhabitants live in the City.•• (By U.S. Census Bureau that is any place larger than 50,000 in population) So, roughly 250 million of 308 million live in the city leaving only 58 million people in these "rural" areas. Of the nearly 19,500 cities, towns and villages across our nation only 718 of them qualify as "The City" leaving 18,782 places which many no longer target for ministry. These dry places are desperate for a fresh expression of the Gospel.
With the vast majority of Americans living in cities,(and it is projected to grow to a greater percentage) why should churches, organizations and denominations pour resources into these seemingly insignificant areas of the U.S.? That's a fair question. One I used to ask as a denominational leader as well. The answer for me is really quite pragmatic. Planting a church in small town USA is cheaper, has greater potential for community transformation, and can have regional impact reaching thousands living in outlying areas. I also believe we may be able to reach the city with greater effectivness and suppliy greater resources if we find a away to plant, restart and refocus our churches in rural America.
The potential for reaching the city from rural locations is greater than visa versa. Small towns are clanish and usually closed off to outsiders. On the other hand, the city is so transient by nature, that this barrier is limited. With more and more people moving from the rural areas to attend college, start and new life or find a way to make a living, our possibilities are endless. Is it possible that we can launch a strategy to transform the city from rural outposts?
At any rate, I am proud of those who have answered the call to grind it out in the trenches of rural America. Keep up the good work and let no one tell you that you can't become world changers because your church or your town is too small. Ignore their small faith and live a God sized vision!
••CRS Report for Congress: Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws, 2005 Edition
10/21/2011 5:47:00 PM | Darrell m