Three Reasons Rural Churches Matter More Than You May Think

Pastor, if you are serving in a rural church, you are not in the minor leagues. You are on the front lines.

I have several friends who live in these kind of towns and their Sunday morning options are bleak. There’s the church where you’re sure to hear a rousing sermon on how bad the liberals have messed everything up in America. There’s the church where the pastor shares a few tips picked up from a conference in Atlanta about communing with nature. And, of course, there’s the prominent church on the square where a motion was passed at a business meeting in 1982 that prohibited the Holy Spirit from ever coming back again. He hasn’t.

 

Many people see small, rural churches like the minor leagues: they are a great place for pastors to be trained but the really good ones won’t ever stay there. The real game is played in the big cities. Or so we’ve been told. Well, I think we’ve been told wrong. Rural churches matters much more than we’ve been led to believe. Here are three reasons why.

The Unreached

For most of my life, I’ve been hearing about unreached people groups. It wasn’t until I became a pastor that I realized that you don’t have to go very far to find them.

I pastor a church in the Bible Belt. My town is the big shiny Hank Williams Jr. buckle of that belt. Most of what you’ve seen in the movies about towns like mine is true. We have fairs. There’s a big water tower. People drive huge trucks. And yes, there really is a church on every corner. Where I live, if you walk outside and throw a rock, there’s a greater than 90% chance that you’ll hit either a church, a Waffle House, or a guy wearing a Hank Williams Jr. belt buckle. If you hit the guy with the belt buckle, you didn’t get the idea from me.

I have several friends who live in these kind of towns and their Sunday morning options are bleak. There’s the church where you’re sure to hear a rousing sermon on how bad the liberals have messed everything up in America. There’s the church where the pastor shares a few tips picked up from a conference in Atlanta about communing with nature. And, of course, there’s the prominent church on the square where a motion was passed at a business meeting in 1982 that prohibited the Holy Spirit from ever coming back again. He hasn’t.

The Undiscipled

As you might imagine, many of the people who do manage to find their way into the typical rural American church don’t exactly come out sharing William Carey’s passion for the lost. They come out ready to eat lunch. And other than trying to live a moral life, they don’t give Jesus’ life, words, death and resurrection a whole lot of thought throughout the week. For them, going to church on a Sunday morning is a lot like going to a football game on a Friday night. At both events, they watch other people do all of the work and come back home basically the same as they were when they went out.

The Unmotivated

Read More