A collection of articles written by Dr. Gary Farley for publication in various magazines across the years and for presentations at conferences. We believe that they have continuing utility. The topics reflect the several areas in theology, ethics and sociology in which Dr. Farley worked. Most are written with a lay audience in mind.
Churches in the Baptist tradition connect and cooperate through associations. Since 1984
associations have been a major focus of my life, work and thought. I have dealt primarily with
rural ones. Many have found my sociological approach to be helpful. Here some articles and
papers are shared with you.
Two jobs, the life of most pastors of rural churches. There are advantages and disadvantages. There are challenges that need to be addressed. The articles in this section reflect my work and thinking with pastors and churches that are bivocational. For additional help look at the several books written over the past decade by Dennis Bickers.
The foundation of work in and for rural churches should be be firmly in the New Testament. In this section are several articles about churches. Note that I am looking at things from within the Baptist tradition. Gathered, a family, and a community are important concepts to me. While many rural Baptist churches have a copy of their Covenant on the wall, it is not practiced.
We need to take a fresh look at Revelation. Dispensationalism distorts the text. In these articles I propose this, one that sees Revelation more as an art gallery, not so much a chronology of coming events. Focus on what and why, not so much when and who. By doing the latter, we miss the intended message. Persevere, justice will come, New Jerusalem is coming.
Here are several articles written to affirm, challenge, and help pastors of rural churches.
Remember Jesus was the pastor of a small rural church. His ministry was mostly in rural places
among rural people. Bloom where you are planted. Longevity with a people in a place brings a set of great rewards.
I have conferenced from these articles many times. They have proven to be helpful in many
settings. They are based on the concepts that a church has a set of functions that be must
perform, that these need to be related to a set of programs, events and projects, and that church
leaders need to be intentional about their performance.
Rechurching Rural America
I became a rural pastor in 1957. That church and its context is much changed. This is true all across rural America. The stock of rural churches is much changed. In this century most of the main line denominations have dropped offices related to rural churches, Yet as many people live in rural place across the land as ever. How can the need be addressed?
I am very much interested in the revitalization of rural churches. The lead article in this section presents my observations regarding a set of churches I serve which have experienced
revitalization. I share my observations regarding the sociological factors in this development in the lives of these churches.
These articles chronicle the changes in rural America in recent decades. The setting for a rural church impact what it does and who it is. Hopefully, readers will take what is offered here and use the concepts to better understand the setting of their ministry. Share your thoughts. For the past two decades my focus has been more on one area than on the whole. What am I missing?
Rural Sociology Studies
Toward the end of my tenure with the Home Mission Board of the SBC I did a study of how my suburban community was churched as it became a part of Kansas City proper. I had hoped that similar studies might be done. It is 20 years old and needs brought up to date. This kind of information needs to be developed as a component of church planting.
While much of the production of my career has been of a sociological nature, I have written a
good many articles of a more theological nature for the Baptist Sunday School Board. I also did
annual Sunday School Bible Studies for the National Association of Conservation Districts for a decade. Some are included in this section.
Dr. Gary Farley was the Director of Missions for the Pickens Baptist Association (1997-2017). From 1984 to 1997 he worked at the Home Mission Board in the Rural Church Program of the Southern Baptist Convention. In that role he published many articles pertaining to rural church and community life. Many of these articles have been collected here as a small library. We invite you to freely distribute these materials.