Now that I am back in town from a vacation tour of Lancaster County, PA and the surrounding areas including Hershey and Gettysburg, I will blog again. So as promised over a week ago, here is a model of ministry in a rural setting. Be sure to read the footnote.
A Model of Ministry
What follows in this concluding section is a practical example of the philosophy of ministry discussed in the previous chapters.
Rural Church Ministry
- Build Credibility. Remember that relationships matter and that in ministry we should involve ourselves in the lives of people. Work side by side, not only in evangelism but also digging ditches. Attend sporting and school events in the community to show members and their friends your genuine interest in their lives. Have integrity and deal with people honestly.
- Go Long Term. Remember the statement from Ruth to Naomi and Christ to his followers, “I will never leave nor forsake you.” Cultivate, fertilize, plant, water and wait for growth in people and in the church. The relationship of minister and congregation is often like marriage, it gets better over time.
- Remember that God Looks at What We Can Become, Not What We Are. God is patient with you, therefore, be patient with his people. Look at what the congregation can become. While teaching and encouraging change remember that how you say something is as important as what you say.
- Stay with the Text. Go through the Bible as you preach and teach. Use exposition wisely, letting the Bible speak and answer questions.
- Know That People Still Want to See Jesus. Point to Christ not to yourself. Jesus is an attractive charismatic person, let people see Him and follow.
- Pray Continually. Paul tells the Thessalonians to “pray with out ceasing.” Ministry cannot occur where God’s power is lacking, and pray is our connection with the power of God. Pray for the church, for people, for souls, for self, and pray for wisdom and strength. This will result in good that you may never know about.
- Be Responsible. You are responsible to the people, not for them. You are there as a servant to help them grow closer to God through Christ. You are responsible to the eldership of your congregation, and ultimately you are responsible to God.
- Challenge Christians. Christians need challenges to grow or they will sit idle and wither on the vine. Help the congregation set physical, financial, and spiritual growth goals. Help them set and meet evangelistic goals.
- Teach and Live Delayed Gratification. Sports heroes do not develop overnight and neither do mature Christians. Help people see their growth and not only their short-comings.
- Welcome New Ideas and Insights. Be teachable and malleable yourself. Allow those around you to teach you and help you grow. Spend time in God’s Word and with him in solitude. Ministers must continue to grow, mature, and learn if they are to effectively teach others.
- Be Balanced. Behold the goodness and severity of God. Teach the love of God and teach the wrath of God. Show how these go hand in hand.
Application of the above suggestions, living as a Christian should (being in love with God and in love with man) goes a long way in making ministry the life of diligent service it should be.
 These ideas are adaptations from notes taken from a lecture entitled, “Rural Church Growth” given by Randy Stephens at Freed-Hardeman University in March of 2000. At the time Randy Stephens was serving with the Sulfur Wells Church of Christ in Tennessee. His ministry there at the time was 22 years in tenure and the congregation grew from an attendance of 85 to 260 in that time.