Guidance for Small Town Ministry (part 1)

Small towns are a great place to have an impact with the Gospel. If you are called to such a setting, it can be a larger opportunity than you may realize.People are often more responsive. Ministry can be carried out in a more cost effective manner. There is less competition in getting your message out.  So, if God has called you there, be sure to see the opportunity. However, there are some things you need to know.

  1. You are expected to do business in town. You can get better prices in the city.  You can find a better selection in the city.  But you can make enemies in your small town.  Their line of logic is that they tithe in the church you pastor; you should do business in their stores.  Otherwise, it’s like biting the hand that feeds you.  The advantage is you get better service – if your car won’t start, and you’re a loyal customer, they will come to your house and get you going again.
  2. Watch out for the unwritten rules.  Those are the most powerful ones.  They are not in the bylaws; they are the ones everyone considers soooo obvious there is no need to write them down.
  3. You will not always have the high percentage of educated and talented members you may have in larger cities.  So, your church cannot always sustain ongoing programming.   You handle this challenge by having events.  You will be the key person to pulling off the event. You will use your best talent in preparing for the events.  You can even use these events as disciple-making tools to introduce people to spiritual disciplines, etc.
  4. It can sometimes be difficult to attract talented staff members to a small town. Many insist on being in a large city with a Starbucks. Don’t worry; they wouldn’t accept your town and the people, picking up on the rejection, wouldn’t accept them.
  5. They are all related by birth or marriage.  Never discuss anyone with anybody unnecessarily.  Know your family trees before trusting someone with a confidence.
  6. In many small town First Baptist Churches, there is a small cadre of business people and others who are deeply entrenched in positions of power in the church. In some places, they will eventually force you into a situation requiring spiritual warfare.  You will feel like a character in a Frank Peretti book.  But don’t fall into the trap of fighting symbolic battles.  Just keep preaching the Word and, over time, the right things will happen.
  7. Small towns, with their local radio stations and weekly papers, provide opportunities for cost-effective, coordinated advertising campaigns – and will often allow you to use more message-oriented content that is more explicit with the Gospel.

To be continued…

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