Guidelines for Small Town Ministry (continued)

You can have a disproportionately large impact in a small town—evangelistically, in disciple-making, and on the moral climate in the town. Here are six more thoughts on how have the greatest impact in this context:

8. If you go to the high school in a small town, they will know you and respect you as a local minister.  In big cities, they don’t know who you are and they don’t generally care.

9. If a person isn’t from that community, he will never be from that community.  Preachers are cut a little slack in this regard, but their children are not.  Be prayerful and careful about moving your daughter during her middle school years.

10. Work behind the scenes to discretely influence people.  Don’t make public scenes unless absolutely necessary.  Your City Council and your School Board members don’t want to be embarrassed in public and could become an enemy to you if you cross that line.  Instead, meet with them privately to discuss issues (it’s the biblical way described by Jesus in Matthew 18).  Go in with a suggestion to handle the situation constructively, rather than to just complain.

11. Cities are gumbos; small towns are melting pots. You are expected to assimilate.  If you want to be regarded as part of the town, you have to place value on what they value.  Be seen at school athletic and civic events such as Relay for Life, as possible.  Along this line, you may find it surprising to see how much the churches and the schools cooperate.  Like a church loaning choir risers to the school and things like that.

12. You will be expected to fellowship with fellow ministers in town, crossing denominational boundaries.  Sometimes in small town life that is because “doing it together” may be a higher value than the message-content of the event.  So there will be times you will have to be diplomatic in excusing yourself from participation.  If you generally participate, you will be excused.  It is often better to be the leader in that organization, helping make wise decisions, than to be placed in situations where you have to make awkward choices.

13. The church may expect you to be involved with the county Baptist Association and to know the DOM well. You may feel the Association has little to offer you and your church. (Some associations do; some don’t.) Generally, the Association needs the larger churches more than the larger churches feel they need the Association.  My personal rule of thumb is to never encourage my members to attend a training event unless I know for sure they will feel it was completely worth their time.  Otherwise, they will never trust my recommendations on training events again.  I try to concentrate my best efforts with the Association in regard to missions, ministry, and church planting projects where I can be the most help–and there are plenty of such opportunities. Also, we are always glad to host an Associational event.

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