Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ministry in Rural America

Are rural pastors and churches doomed merely to get by the best they can with what they have — to be satisfied with smallness and embrace it?

Pastor Rob struggled to focus during the long and boring drive home from the annual spring pastor’s conference. While hopelessly searching for radio stations along a desolate stretch of freeway, Rob’s thoughts tortured him. He felt genuinely inspired by the presentations he’d heard at the event. Some of the most well-known experts in church growth delivered the messages with passion and excellence. But the reality of his rural church ministry persistently interrupted his sweet daydream of a cutting-edge church — led by him, of course.

Many pastors across America face a similar struggle. It revolves around a desire to embrace current, seemingly foolproof methods of church growth and the reality of a rural context that does not always fall into lockstep with conventional wisdom regarding the church growth movement.

Most rural pastors do not pursue their ministry to fly beneath the radar and avoid the stress of urban ministry. On the contrary, the majority pray for God’s guidance. Rural pastors go where God leads them, with an expectant heart. Pastor Rob represents a multitude of rural pastors in America — men and women who yearn to see revitalization among the faithful. They daily strive to help their flocks live out faith in the community.

Pastor Rob gets it; he understands. He possesses a clear knowledge of foundational things: evangelism, nurturing, and discipling new believers. He seeks to equip Christians to continue this circular, ongoing process so that the Church will fulfill its role in the kingdom of God. He is confident about God’s will for the church, whether rural, urban, or somewhere in between. It is all about the Great Commission, clearly proclaimed by Jesus: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20). Keep reading

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