This month we focus on the rural church and rural ministry . . . but what exactly is rural, and how are rural areas different from small towns or micropolitan communities? Before you read other stories in this issue, be sure to read “A Salute to Small Towns, Rural Areas, Micropolitan Communities: Our Attempt at a Glossary of Terms.”
It takes many threads to weave a beautiful church, and I noticed four prevalent threads in many of the articles this month. And, while this issue is about rural ministry, I think these threads are important regardless of where your church, Sunday school class, elder board, small group, or ministry team meets.
The first thread I noticed is a zeal to move from an unhealthy to a healthy culture Successful leaders “face the brutal facts of the current reality” and then seek to do whatever it takes to move toward health. After all, healthy things naturally grow, bear fruit, and reproduce; unhealthy things either don’t do these things or you don’t want them to!
A second thread is synergy. Successful lead ministers are not solo leaders. Several articles provide examples of leaders developing people, expanding teamwork, and multiplying leadership, which is leading to continued growth.
Christian Standard Media is working on this one, too. Lookout Editor Shawn McMullen is now a contributing editor to this magazine, and I have become a contributing editor for The Lookout. Why? Shawn has leadership experience that will benefit Christian Standard and I have discipleship and small groups expierience that can enhance The Lookout. We complement each other well and we will add value to both magazines by working together rather than as individuals. We are developing one team that produces two magazines, and that’s better for both publications and the kingdom!
The third thread that runs through the articles this month is a trust and reliance on the Holy Spirit in the leadership of the church. I noticed two interesting and symbiotic values expressed by several writers as they told their stories: humility and a dependence on God’s power. These two heart characteristics work hand-in-hand and are often the determining factors in the success of a church.
The fourth thread is a focus on what the people in their communities need as much as or more than what the already committed need. These churches, regardless of size or background, work diligently to learn how to carry out their mission in their particular culture. Their focus is much like that of Jesus who, as The Message paraphrases it, said, “I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders” (Matthew 9:13). They give attention to discipling insiders to help them mature and be a part of their mission to the community.
Whether you serve in an urban, suburban, or rural church, in a metropolitan, micropolitan, or nonmetropolitan area, I’m convinced you’ll learn many valuable lessons as you read this month’s issue. And as you do, watch for those threads. In which do you need to grow to better lead in your culture?