Rural and Small Church (ii)

Thoughts on Viability of Rural Churches : I believe that most of us view the church both in general, or universal, and in its specific local congregational expression as being a divine-human institution. Humanly, it is governed by the same sociological laws as other organizations. But it is also unique in that it has a divinely appointed mission, is granted special powers by God, and has special accountability to God for the “rightness” of its work.

Some Reflections on Certain Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Smaller-Memebership Rural Church : Among the battles I waged while serving as a leader of the town and country church program for the Southern Baptist Convention was the tendency for many to transfer the secular American view that “bigger is better” into their understanding of the mission and work of the churches.

Studying Congregations

Contrasting Church Cultures : Large Suburban and Small Rural in contrast…

Church Covenant Taken from New Hampshire Confession of Faith. Appendix to the 1833 Statement : “Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.

Strategies for Dealing with Rural Churches : Recently a copy of The Country Preacher came into my hands. I was impressed that its advice continues to ring true, although 65 years have passed since it was first published. Jeff Ray, the author, taught preaching and rural sociology at Southwestern Seminary for many years. Writing in the mid-1920s for the Sunday School Board, Ray found rural America to be in the throes of significant change—change that was destroying people and crippling churches and communities. He identified leadership—pastoral leadership—as the crucial need for the rural church.

Marks of a Walmart Style Church : 1. Centered more than bounded. Open to people many miles away, as contrasted with a church that limits outreach efforts to its traditional parish or field, about three miles each direction.

Church Planting Is Not Complete in Town and Country Places: Rural America Needs New Churches, Too! : We have all thrilled at the stories of the planting of growing, evangelical congregations in the great cities of America. We have all been challenged by the magnitude of reaching the cities for Christ. We all recognize that about half of all Americans live in the 50 largest cities, and only one of four of us lives in rural, small-town and small-city places. We support with our prayers, time and tithes the effort to reach the cities.

Rural Church/Relational Church : Often I have been asked, “What is the difference between large suburban and small rural churches?” The answer came to me one Sunday about a year ago as I looked out over the congregation of Aliceville Baptist Church. Four and five generations of a family, in fact of several families, were spread out across a pew. Pew after pew. Kinship ties and extended family relationship are important bonding agents in rural and small town churches.

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