I am in East Kentucky this weekend leading a section of pastors in evangelism training and I am captivated by the “rural” mission.
What I am learning in my conversations is that it takes a completely different strategy to reach rural areas (10,000 population or less) in a city. Obviously right!? But being around these guys and hearing their stories is inspiring. I also realize that many of our conferences, however APE in nature they are, do not help rural planters. The conferences are stoke the imagination of bigger and better and often use on stage speakers that have big churches and are in urban areas. A big church in rural space may be 50 or 100 people. There is not much imagination for these spaces – what if we could SEE and HERE more stories of people choosing rural spaces instead of big cities with the hope of growing big churches?
I want to be clear – I am not putting down big cities and big churches. I am more making the point that most of our apostolic imagination goes there and that is problematic.
One cool story is Mike – the guy in blue. He moved to Menifee County to plant a church. This county is considered one of the most unchurched counties in America – 87%. Thomas Rainer mentions it in this book. Menifee is poor and rural and was wiped devastated by a tornado in 2012. No one moves there willingly. During a prayer meeting a few years ago about reaching the various counties in East Kentucky, Mike stopped the prayer and said, “I’ll go to Menifee – someone has to.” Mike and his wife felt called to give their life to bring Jesus to this county. He was very inspiring to me today as I talked with him. He loves the people there and is doing life with the community.