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.
- Support Mike – I am going to financially support mike by giving his mission $100. It is not a lot but its something I can do right now. I wonder if you might match me? What if 20 of us gave $100 to jump start his work? He and his wife work and don’t draw a salary from the church. They are a small congregation and any money will go to the mission. I think he could dream up some great ways to use $2,000. Lets bless this guy – trust me when I say he is convicted, called and in this for the long haul. Lets bless him with a resource that is not found easily where he lives. They don’t have a website so send checks to: New Hope UMC – P.O. Box 149, Frenchburg KY, 40322
- Pray for the Rural spaces – let’s start praying for apostolic imagination in rural spaces. How do we reach towns of 1,000 people? 5,000? who will go? How do we have a different ministry success paradigm? What do faithfulness and growth look like? Let’s lift these places and people up and ask God to call and sustain planters for these areas.
- Let’s start a Rural Planting Conference – I am talking with my buddy, pastor of a church here in East Kentucky, Aaron Mansfield. We need to let him lead the charge with a few friends to start up this conference that tackles apostolic challenges in rural places. He has vision and conviction about reaching these places but he needs support and encouragement. We need to have a conference/gathering of people that want to seriously think about these places and hold it in a place like Menifee – not in a mega church in a mega city. If you are excited to be part of something like this leave a comment below on this post. Let’s see what kind of interest is here. If there is enough, well activate it. Let’s gather in a rural town that is unchurched and have our first gathering. We can pray, dream, workshop, inspire each other and see what God says!