Release The RURAL APE

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.

Three Thoughts

      1. 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
      2. 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.
      3. 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!
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About Beau Crosetto

Beau is the author of "Beyond Awkward: when talking about Jesus is outside your comfort zone". He is called by God is to raise up and release people that want to start new ministries (apostolic) as well as people that want to share their faith (evangelists). He currently is the Greater Los Angeles Director for Greek InterVarsity and in charge of specifically seeing new Greek (fraternity & sorority) InterVarsity chapters start on college campuses. Beau is married to Kristina and they have three kids: Noah (5), Sophia (3) and Wesley (6mo).

7 comments

  1. I’m all inn. local colleges would be a great start..but before we enter any city..many prayers must be done. Start the foundation on prayer and it can never be broken. RuralTour

  2. I’m IN – & would LOVE to be a part of something like a rural Church plant or a Rural Planting Conference. Thanks for praying w/ Aaron & I at our Church altar today! Grace & Peace, Drew McNeill

  3. Yes please! I’m from a town of 800. 2 churches with limited reach and so much potential it breaks my heart to go home and see so many that don’t know Jesus.

    One thing I have observed from my home town is that the churches are mostly made up of the wealthier families, farmers etc. that live outside of town (they drive in and drive right back out on Sunday morning) Leaving hundreds who live in town (characterized by poverty, meth, single parents teen pregnancy etc) Unreached. Then when the church starts a youth program (my mom runs one) that is an outreach the church body refers to the kids as “those Wednesday night kids” and don’t send their own kids to it. Example my parents church has about 15 kids who come Wednesday’s for a free meal who have never been on Sunday morning and who’s parents haven’t ever been to the church. There is a power dynamic that is going on and those wealthier family’s are not suseptibal to changes and unfortunately not super open to following Jesus. But they sure will be there on Sunday and let you know when you make them mad.

  4. I think you are really hitting on something important….Rural America is different and often overlooked. I am from a very small town in Northwest Ohio. Paulding. We actually did not have a movie theater or a McDonald’s in the entire COUNTY until the late 80’s or early 90’s.
    I would LOVE to be a part of helping to reach the people in these areas with the truth of God’s word and his love, grace, mercy, and compassion for them…. Praying for you! Please contact me and let me know how I can help! 😀

  5. Thank you for being willing to visit a rural context. It’s not as simple of a stop than a city with an airport. I’m glad you found it rewarding! I’m a friend of Aaron’s and I really only connected with him once I tried to figure out what in the world to do as a rural church pastor. I could find very little from local folks on how to “do” evangelism. I’d definitely love to be connected to any further efforts in this area!

    PS. Your youngest son’s name is the coolest.

  6. This is music to my ears! I’m in rural Australia and helping communities start new youth ministries … the town I’m currently focusing on has 1200 people … about 20 of them are Christians. Who have burning hearts to see the unchurched youth of their town meet Jesus. It’s amazing! The challenges are unique. And often it feels like we’re going blindly (until you read Paul’s letters). But just imagine. The high school has 150(ish) kids in it. Imagine if 15 of them met The Lord … that’s 10% … And the thing is in small town communities, people notice. EVERYONE notices. And so then imagine if in that mix you had one or two of the “popular” kids. It wouldn’t take long for the snow ball effect to be seen. I truly think that revival (at least in this country) will come out of our small towns. Because, the other thing with it all is that suddenly the crime rates drop cause kids are no longer getting into trouble because the Spirit is convicting them; people notice a different … and the next town down starts wanting what’s happened in the last. Once again the snow ball effect. How do we resource? How do we invest in local people and make them disciples in their own communities (cause at least in this country, you never get a say unless you’re a local … and it takes a good 30 years to become one of those). Am excited to see what happens next!

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