Thursday, May 28, 2015

Smarter Rural Ministry

Your cultural assumptions will affect your effectiveness.

It was early in the ministry of my first church and I was enthusiastically sharing my vision for the transformation not only of our little church, but our community, our region, and beyond. My rural co-leaders listened patiently until I began to outline goals for the future. At that point a leader interrupted with his perspective regarding goal setting.

“Pastor, nobody can tell what is going to happen until it happens, so what is the point of setting goals?” To bolster his point, he quoted Scripture: “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, `If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.' ‘But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting (and presumably, goal setting) is evil.’”

In the pause that followed, it was pretty clear that at least some of my rural leaders thought that the whole notion of setting goals and strategic planning was at odds with the will and ways of God. But I was thinking, "How do they accomplish anything without a goal?"

It was my first lesson in rural ministry. I was learning that rural is separated from urban/suburban by more than miles. Rural is a distinct socio-cultural context that comes with its own assumptions and mindset. Effective ministry in rural contexts requires that you adapt your leadership style. Otherwise you simply won’t be effective. Keep reading

Photo credit: Pixabay, public domain

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