The Country Church Question
Gil, how do you get ministers to come to a country church in rural America?
Local church elders in Easter, Oregon, recently asked me this question.
Their church has tried for over a year to find qualified pastoral leadership that would be willing to come and pastor their church and community. They are a church of thirty people, four elders, a modest budget, a great location, a multipurpose building, and a love for the Lord and their community. Yet they have no parsonage, and they can’t pay full salary.
Their town is in unique setting. Because most of the community is spread over miles of grazing land, the ranchers come to town each Sunday afternoon for church, and then drop off their children at the public-school dorms for the coming week of school. Then, on Friday, they return and pick their children up for the weekend. This in turn provides unique ministry opportunities for the church.
The Country Pastor Quandary
Most people contemplating a successful ministry may out-of-hand ignore such a setting because of its limited opportunity. Still others who appreciate the spiritual needs of individuals and families in rural settings are faced with significant questions:
- How will I support myself?
- Where will I live?
- How do I vet the church?
- How do I deal with the remoteness?
- How do I find fellowship and mentorship
The Answer for the Country Church
God has enabled Village Missions to overcome these obstacles. First, we have a proper vision for rural ministry. We engage in two overlapping but distinct areas of ministry: the church community and the local community. Our leadership has a pastoral mindset and a missionary mindset. Secondly, we recognize the value of full time leadership. Village Missions assures the financial support of our leadership, to provide fellowship and mentorship, and to give them as well as the church they serve their own setting of vital ministry.
This encourages those who have a God given love for rural America to join us in preaching the Word, and loving the people. It assures them of choreographed transition into the significant use of their giftedness in a rural country church. In the end, we know that only God’s call can account for those who are willing to resettle in a community for the sake of the Gospel of Christ.