The Rural Ministry Struggle

March 26, 2010

I’m sure that reading what I wrote yesterday would make many rural pastors angry. Who am I, and how dare I say that the rural churches are failing? Let me explain. I am a person who is struggling in the same field and battling the same obstacles. When I say that WE are failing I am simply stating that it is becoming more and more difficult to maintain basic ministry function. In many ways we are losing ground.

I do not believe we will lose the war but I do know we have to rethink our strategy. The strategy will have to involve sharing our ministries and our strengths. The second institutional barrier to effective ministry is funding.

Lack of Funding In speaking to a financial adviser recently, I asked if our Michigan’s current economy was something that we would likely climb out of or if he believed it to be the new reality? He believed that we are living in a new reality.

I spoke to a CEO of a major firm a few weeks ago. He told me that the new mantra for businesses was, “Flat is the new high.”

These are illustrations of a great need for ministries to plan together for lean times.

Instead of gambling on a financial rebound, perhaps we can adapt the new business models in order to continue ministry. These models include outsourcing and networks which capitalize on strength. In other words, if we are used to offering a summer Bible school but are short on dollars and workers, it makes sense to join forces in order to offer the same ministry, albeit in less locations.

The same may be true of missions support. Churches in metropolitan areas have formed consortiums in order to reduce the number of stops a missionary has to make while on furlow. The danger in these consolidations is that when an area’s economy tanks, ten churches feel the hardship and many times reduce missions support. The end result is that missionaries are forced to come off the field.

We lose fields to the enemy and in turn forfeit souls. We have to see this as a spiritual urgency.

CRF exists to provide youth ministry to churches that are faced with these barriers. IN exchange we ask that the churches that we minister to assist us in a pennies to the dollar support.

It will become more imperative to accept these new cooperations Even those churches who have denominational assistance may need to consider sharing programs and resources with other ministries for the sake of the needs of the community. God may have blessed individual churches in the past but it may be time for us to reject our fortress mentality. if we desire to continue ministry in the face of financial struggle we have to become more resourceful stewards of God’s provision, even to the point of struggle.

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— That includes Crossroads Farm.

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