Ministry in the modern church is growing ever more urban. But there are still a significant number of pastors who will fight in the trenches of kingdom warfare from a rural church. Here are 3 pieces of advice for those who would consider going to the hard places and farming communities of rural America.
1. Know your Bible well
There are people in the pews who spend their days listening to Bible teachers on their radios, TVs and other devices. Many of the Christians in the pews know so much more than you will ever know. Be humble. Learn from your people. And know your Bible well.
Your preaching will reflect aspects of your theology that you don’t even know you believe. But your people will notice. And you need to know your Bible in an unending quest in order to be able to minister to His church.
2. Don’t plan on winning hearts with good arguments like in seminary
When you were in seminary, the best arguments won. It was as simple as studying, showing the logical progression of thought, and coming to a conclusion that was persuasive.
This is often not the case in the local church. The most thought out, logical, and simple arguments may not be persuasive to your congregation. Do not find yourself in despair when you have made the perfect argument for or against something, and you see no change in the people you were preaching at.
Your goal is to love people to the cross, not simply to win them to a certain theological persuasion. Learn to love people. Learn to be ready when they ask. And learn to not be exasperated when even the perfectly crafted argumentation does not win people over. Christ wins people. You get to be there and watch when He does it.
3. Don’t be weird.
In seminary, many men sequester themselves away with their books in their study. This is a great way to get A’s, but it is also a sure recipe for a failure in ministry. Being weird will not allow a pastor to reach the vast majority of his congregation.
Your men won’t hear you if you can’t discuss things like the viscosity of oil that they use in their tractors. They won’t hear you if you just sit and watch them string a barbed wire fence and don’t know what fencing pliers do. They won’t hear you if you turn your nose up at at the smell of singed hair as they brand their cattle, or they ask you for a 3/4” box end wrench and you hand them a socket.
Your beard and plaid shirt won’t gain you credibility in rural America, but your work ethic will. Work hard. Be humble. Get your hands dirty. Only then will your men hear you.