rural church planting
Skip this Video
Download Presentation
Rural Church Planting

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 120

Rural Church Planting - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

Rural Church Planting. Prepared and presented by: Steve Nerger Manager, Strategic Places Church Planting Group North American Mission Board Portions taken from “ No Little Places ” by Klassen. Big Church Service. “ DREAM ”. Little Church Service. “ REALITY ”. Big Office. “DREAM”.

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'Rural Church Planting' - ostinmannual

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
rural church planting

Rural Church Planting

Prepared and presented by:

Steve Nerger

Manager, Strategic Places

Church Planting Group

North American Mission Board

Portions taken from “No Little Places” by Klassen

big office
Big Office


office at home
Office at Home


we will talk about
We will talk about:
  • The need for church planting in rural North America
  • The myths of church planting and how they affect rural church planting
  • Answer the question, “can small be significant?”
  • Current trends in rural America
we will talk about7
We will talk about:
  • Bridging and building upon the small town culture
  • Leadership styles in rural America
  • Methods and strategies to reach rural communities
the lostness of rural america
The Lostness of Rural America
  • A population of 2,500 to 50,000 will be labeled an urban cluster
  • Any population that is basically 2,500 or less is considered rural
  • Let’s look at the definitions:
urban clusters
Urban Clusters

U.S. Census definition of Urban Cluster:

“Consists of a geographic core of block groups or blocks must have a population density of at least 1,000 people per square mile, and adjacent block groups and blocks with at least 500 people per square mile that together encompass a population of at least 2,500 people, but fewer than 50,000 people.”


U.S. Census definition of Rural:

“All Territory, population, and housing units located outside of urbanized areas and urban clusters.”

rural population
Rural Population
  • In America today it is estimated that 53,000,000 people live in rural communities
  • In Canada today there are approximately 20,000,000 people living in rural communities.
  • The population growth in rural areas can be tied partially to recreation and tourism.
  • Rural areas are also growing in ethnic diversity.
rural population14
Rural Population
  • There are currently 436 counties in America where there is no Southern Baptist church
  • There are thousands of places in North America without any evangelical work
  • Let’s look on the map
churches in the united states
Churches in the United States
  • 8 churches close in the United States each day.
  • 6 churches are started in the United States each day.
  • 4.5 of those new church starts are Southern Baptist churches.
  • There are churches of many denominations which close each day all across rural North America.
  • Each closing leaves a group of people who are sensitive to God without a leader.


United States Population: 301,339,050

(Source: U.S. Census as of 9:30am on Friday, March 9, 2007)

God’s glory among all peoples.



Canada Population:


(Source: Statistics Canada as of 9:30am on Friday, March 9, 2007)

God’s glory among all peoples.



Population of North America:


What percentage are lost?

God’s glory among all peoples.



Population of North America:


50% = 167,034,632

The SBC reported371,850 baptisms in 2005

God’s glory among all peoples.



In North America

371,850 SBC baptisms

estimated 167,034,632 lost people

If 50% are lost … SBC baptisms represent 0.22%

God’s glory among all peoples.



In the United States there is:

One birth every 8 seconds

One death every 13 seconds

One international immigrant (net) every 31 seconds

Net gain of one person every 11 seconds(or 2,866,909 per year)

Source: U.S. Census

God’s glory among all peoples.



United States and Canada combined

303 people die every hour

7,272 people die every day

2,656,098 people die every year

God’s glory among all peoples.



United States and Canada combined:

303 people die every hour

7,272 people die every day

2,656,098 people die every year

Over 20,500 will die between nowand when you return to school on Monday.

God’s glory among all peoples.

reaching rural america
Reaching Rural America
  • Rural America represents 1/6 of our total population (about 53 million people).
  • Approximately 2/3 of Canada is rural (or 21 million people).
  • The population growth in rural areas can be tied partially to recreation and tourism.
  • Rural areas are also growing in ethnic diversity.
reaching rural america46
Reaching Rural America
  • Question: How many people do you know that are willing to invest their lives in a small community where there is no recognition?
  • How many would graduate from seminary and give their lives to a few who may never hear the gospel from a person?
rural ministry
Rural Ministry
  • Let’s look at the reasons that very few will ever consider the rural ministry.
  • Let’s look at the wheels at work that deny consideration for rural ministry.

Who Says?



“We do!”

the numbers myth
The “Numbers” Myth

To be significant a ministry must

be BIG!

Or as we often see it:

“With a large church, I will feel successful!

“If a church is small, I’ll feel like I’m failing.”

the big place myth
The “Big Place” Myth

To be significant a ministry must

be in a BIG PLACE!

Or as we often see it:

“No matter where I go, if I choose rural ministry I will still have to eventually say to people that I have 30 people in a town of 1,000 somewhere out in the boondocks.”

the recognition myth
The “Recognition” Myth

To be significant in a ministry I must be

recognized for my service in a BIG WAY!

Or as we often see it:

“When was the last time you saw someone from a small church speak at a great gathering of the saints.”

the career myth
The “Career” Myth

Career advancements are a sign of significance.

Or as we often see it:

“I hear there is a professional ladder to climb and I will climb it one rung at a time for the sake of my family.”

We should really discuss this for a while!

the cure for inferiority myth
The “Cure for Inferiority” Myth

If I can succeed professionally,

I will no longer feel inferior!

Or as we often see it:

“I will show all those who said that I would amount to nothing that I am a winner by having a large church!”

P.S. This could be your parents as many pastors come from dysfunctional homes.

the quality principle
The Quality Principle

God judges my ministry not by its size,but by its quality.

Acts 2:47, 1 Corinthians 3:6, 13

growth is attributed to god
Growth is Attributed to God

Acts 2:47 (NIV)

praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved

I Corinthians 3:6 (NIV)

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow

1 Corinthians 3:13 (NIV)

his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man\'s work

jesus example
Jesus’ Example
  • Attracted multitudes for many reasons (John 6:26)
  • Multitudes left (John 6:66)
  • At His death there were the 12 (maybe), 1 traitor, and 500 others
god calls us to
God calls us to:
  • Servanthood
  • Humility
  • Faithfulness
  • Right motives
  • Leaving the results to Him (what if the only person you led to Christ in a community would become the next “Paul” or “Billy Graham.”
man s thinking
Man’s Thinking:

Growth = numbers

Failure = low numbers

healthy look at growth
Healthy Look at Growth

Quality over Quantity

  • Are members growing spiritually?
  • Are members working in unity using their spiritual gifts?
principle 1
Principle #1

Other things to measure besides numbers:

  • Survey the church to see if people are satisfied with their current usage in church.
  • Measure evangelism by the number of times people share their faith, not the number of people saved.
  • Has everyone in your town heard a gospel presentation? ( Discuss this.)
principle 1 continued
Principle #1 (continued)
  • Measure missions not by $$$ given but by the number of times people prayed for missions, or encouraged missionaries, or went on mission trips.
  • Test spirituality by a real life situation – see how your people respond. For instance, invite a seemingly homeless person who just walks in your church to help serve the Lord’s Supper.
principle 2
Principle #2

“Wherever God calls me to ministeris an important place.”

  • Jesus came to Bethlehem; not Jerusalem
  • John the Baptist preached in the wilderness, not the city. (What kind of church growth strategy is this?)
  • John Bunyan – wrote Pilgrim’s Progress while in prison.
  • Jim Elliott – failure – killed by natives.
Conventional wisdom says

“Go to larger cities, where people are”

God’s wisdom says:

"from major city to towns and villages toremote places” (Mark 1:35)


Let’s discuss this!


City: more people – less impact

“Even though there are more people theaverage pastor will not relate to any more people than he would in a small town.”

Town: Pastor has more influence

- knows city officials

- known in community (relational)

Let’s discuss this!

“In the eyes of God there are nosmall churches, nor are there big pastors.” Warren Wiersbe

Your bigness to God depends onyour faithfulness and His sovereignty,

not the place you are sent.

No where more than in America are Christians caught up in the twentieth-century syndrome of size. Size will show success. If I am consecrated, there will necessarily be large quantities of people, dollars, etc. This is not so. Not only does God not say that size and spiritual power go together, but he even reverses this (especially in the teaching of Jesus) and tells us to be deliberately careful not to choose a place too big for us.

We all tend to emphasize big works and big places, but all such emphasis is of the flesh. To think in such terms is simply to hearken back to the old, unconverted, egoist, self-centered me.

Francis Shaeffer

principle 3
Principle #3

The Glory of God

“God calls me to seek His glory, not mine!”

Do you want to be a star, or a servant?

two warnings
Two Warnings
  • “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)
  • “Jesus said, “I have brought you glory on earth by doing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4) Will we be able to say this?
we look at numbers god looks at
We Look at Numbers / God Looks At:
  • Faithfulness to God through obedience and hard work
  • Service to God and others
  • Love for God
  • Genuine faith
  • A vital prayer life
  • The practice of holiness
  • A positive attitude

(From Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndromeby Kent and Barbara Hughes.)

bridging the culture gap
Bridging The Culture Gap

ACTIVITY(pp. 43-50)

Divide into two groups. Read pp. 43-50.

  • Group #1: list all the things Ron did wrong.
  • Group #2: list all the things he did to correct his mistakes.
  • Each group come up with mistakes that pastors make when they first come to your church field. Maybe you made them…
characteristics of smaller communities
Characteristics of Smaller Communities
  • Safe
  • Friendly
  • Relaxed
  • Gossipy
  • Conformist
  • Boring
  • Remote
  • Married
  • Religious
  • Clean and Quiet

From Tom Nebel “Big Dreams in Small Places”

current trends in rural areas
Current Trends in Rural Areas


  • The number of people working in agriculture fields is declining rapidly.
    • 30% of all Americans were farmers in 1920
    • Today that number is 1.9%


Many farmers who have lost the family farm feel they are failures. They have not survived the “survival of the fittest!” These are the people to whom you will minister.

Does this trend affect any other areas(i.e., fishing, oil, mining, etc.) in a similar manner?

pastoral help in these times of need such as a declining economy
Pastoral Help in These Times of Need (such as a declining economy).
  • Be prepared to offer great encouragement.
  • Preach a series of messages on hope.
    • “Starting over as a Christian” salvation message
    • “Starting over after failure”
    • “Starting over with a new vocation”
    • “Starting over in the church”
  • Be sure you do not fall into the same faulty thinking about your church and ministry.
  • Encourage people to take risks and not be held to the status quo by fear of eventual failure.
current trends in rural areas77
Current Trends in Rural Areas


  • Non-farm town population is increasing.
    • Most small towns are growing.
    • Towns of 2,500 or less grew by 4.9% in the 1980s.
    • There is actually a larger population movement to the small towns than to the cities (i.e. Alaska – Gustavus, Talketna, air bases; the Northeast; Georgia; Florida, etc.)
current trends in rural areas78
Current Trends in Rural Areas


  • Small towns are experiencing great demographic changes.
    • Industry is moving to small towns for a cost-effective work force.
    • White-collar people are moving to the small towns causing suburban sprawl.
    • Retirees are turning to small towns for “quality of life.”
    • Re-urbanization of America – bringing great conflict to a town or village near you.
current trends in rural areas79
Current Trends in Rural Areas


  • The new generation of small-town residents exhibits a marked decline in spiritual and moral values.
The National Rural Development Institute says:

Rural children fared worse than their non-rural counterparts in 34 of 39 statistical categories including:

  • Immorality
  • Substance Abuse
  • Crime

QUESTION: Could this be correlated to the death of small-town churches who failed to change with their community? How about in your community?

adjusting to a new culture
Adjusting to a New Culture
  • Adjusting to a new culture usually follows these steps.
    • The “how quaint” phase (lasts about 1-2 weeks)
    • The “this isn’t just like home” phase (longing for what we are used to)
    • The “it\'s starting to make sense” phase (i.e. people do not care about your education or for things to be perfect)
    • The “I like it” phase (you can laugh about your cross-cultural snafus!)
how do we successfully learn the culture
How Do We Successfully Learn The Culture?


  • Get out with the people. (Get out of the office, socialize, go to football game, etc.)
  • Become a student of the culture. (What is important to the people; what rituals do they hold dearly; what are the power structures?)
  • Withhold judgment.
building on small town strengths
Building on Small-Town Strengths

“Use what you have and

do not try to copy what you

know of large churches and

their programs!”

use the two i s
Use The Two “I”s
  • First “I” is Intimacy
  • Second “I” is Involvement
    • Interactive Preaching
      • Use object lessons
      • Ask a question and invite responses.
      • Allow time for the congregation to ask questions.
      • Ask some members to look at your text and give feedback as to the passage’s application before you preach it.
      • Invite spontaneous comments after you preach.
      • Creatively involve others during your service.
Have participatory worship
    • Develop and use choirs or ensembles
    • Special music (only requirement is they do their best!)
    • Special music by children.
    • Special music by families.
    • Congregational singing. Sing familiar songs. Have variety as in your congregation.
    • Have instrumental music.
    • Have a worship team that might include young people, and develop them. (Note – 80% of all missionaries come from small churches.)
    • Have sharing times.
    • Change the order of service.
    • Plan your services in advance. Don’t just say that you are spontaneous.
finding your church s niche
Finding Your Church’s Niche
  • Most successful churches intentionally limit their ministries.
  • Do a few things well.
  • Do one thing excellently – better than anyone else (i.e. a church that loves children.)
finding the niche
Finding the Niche
  • Identify the gifts and ministry passion
    • “find where spiritual gifts meet ministry passion”
  • Identify the communities’ needs. Ask three questions:
    • Who are the people who are overlooked by churches?
    • What are their needs?
    • To which of these needs could we respond if we put forth the effort?
beating the wal mart church in your area if there is one
Beating the “Wal-Mart” Church in Your Area(if there is one)
  • Don’t come at the “Wal-Mart” church head on.
  • Do your own thing better than they do theirs (i.e. intimacy.)
  • Offer a specialized line of products.
  • Conditions change … survivors adapt to changing conditions.
  • Involve the people.
  • Be enthusiastic.
  • Monitor what you are doing.
either adjust to the new culture or bust
Either Adjust to the New Culture or Bust!

Mission Specialist Paul Hiebert says:

“In relating to another people we need…to deal with our feelings that distinguish between “us” and “our kind of People,” and “them,” and “their kind of people.” Identification only takes place when “they” become part of the circle of people we think as “our kind of people.”

adapting to culture
Adapting to Culture

1 Corinthians 9:22 (NIV)

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.

I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

thought for the hour
Thought for the Hour

If you pastor an existing church in a rural or small town area…

“You may have to choose between the past and the future, between clinging to your old ways and having a vital church for your children and grandchildren.”

replay of how to bridge the culture gap
Replay of “How To Bridge The Culture Gap”
  • Learn your community’s culture before you make changes.
  • Shape your ministry to the culture of the community.
  • Pace change to the congregation’s readiness for change.

“Take your cookie cutter pastor and throw him away. Live adventurously where God has placed you.”

small town leadership
Small Town Leadership

CEO Model

More authoritarian

More directive

More distant

More organizational

More formal


More on their level

More input from everyone

More personal / relational

More spontaneous

More informal

management by relationship
Management by Relationship
  • Build relationships
    • Authority does NOT come with the position of being pastor.
    • You earn it through earning peoples’ trust.
    • Build it by strong, warm, family-like relationships.
    • If they like you / if they trust you, they will like your ideas.
    • Relationship is the pre-condition to change.
    • Remember intimacy and involvement are the keys to change in small church life.
management by relationship96
Management by Relationship

2. Find the right way to initiate change.

  • Most small churches DO NOT like the top down management style.
  • So DON’T do it!
  • Figure out a way to bring your idea from the bottom up. i.e. out of the congregation.
  • You will not get credit, but the idea will have a better chance of becoming a reality.

(Place your idea out to a few members and see if it ever comes up again. If it does, for instance at a business meeting, then it will fly.)

small church organizational types
Small Church Organizational Types
  • The fellowship of less than 35 or 40 uses an informal decision-making process much like that of the small group. The individual member’s voice usually carries as much weight as the pastor’s.
  • The small congregation of 35 to 90 has standing committees and follows a congregational pattern in its decision making. This church expects the pastor to be more of an initiator, but most of the power is still vested in the congregation.
  • The government of the mid-size congregation of 85 to 150 is representative rather than a pure democracy. This church expects the pastor to be an initiating leader and administrator. Schaller
management by relationship98
Management by Relationship

3. Be Patient

  • Rural ministry does not happen overnight.
  • Rural people do not respond overnight.
methods and strategies
Methods and Strategies
  • Silo Churches:
    • In many farming areas most people relate to the location of the silo that collects the grain.
    • This is the central place in the region.
    • A ministry field is designated by those who use that silo.
    • A preaching point is located in the vicinity of the silo “town”.
field of church plants
Field of Church Plants
  • Missionary moves into an area.
  • Spends one day in each small community.
  • Attempts to develop a Bible Study.


  • Attempts to restart a closed church. A building may exist already.
  • Do this in each town within one day’s journey.
use larger church in larger town as a staging area
Use larger church in larger town as a staging area
  • Take a church position in a larger population area.
  • Intentionally target smaller pockets of people within one day’s journey.
  • These can be small towns or different people groups.
  • Begin a Bible study in each place with the intention of finding a “person of peace” and an indigenous leader and developing a church.
one apostolic pastor
One Apostolic Pastor
  • One main pastor has a vision for a field of smaller churches.
  • He pastors a church.
  • He finds people either from his church or indigenous people to pastor in smaller communities in the chosen region.
  • This network can expand exponentially.
finding persons of peace
Finding “Persons of Peace”
  • Send people (2-3) into a target community for a few weeks to seek persons of peace.
  • Hold Bible studies to find persons of peace.
  • Bring in mission group to reach children and discover houses of peace to begin Bible study.
  • Bring a group to do a community project (paint community center, school; fix up playground; etc.)
finding persons of peace104
Finding “Persons of Peace”
  • Teach a relevant course in a community place.
  • Survey the community to find out its needs, then meet them.
  • Use any other creative way to enter a community to find people of peace.
remote church planting
Remote Church Planting
  • Remotes are pockets of people who can live in areas where there are no roads in or out.
  • Access is by four-wheelers, snowmobiles, dogsleds, frozen rivers/vehicles, plane.
  • Often pockets of 100-300 people.
  • Example: Alaska – Kotzebue, outlying area
  • Pastor is indigenous or Mission Service Corps
challenges to rural church planting
Challenges to Rural Church Planting
  • Finding and training indigenous leaders.
  • Rethinking small ministry.
  • Finding suitable outreach material.
  • Finding leaders who care for rural people.
  • Recognizing differences in rural church planting.
  • A willingness to think outside the box.
reaching rural north america
Reaching Rural North America

“Steve\'s Top Ten List”

to effectively reach rural North America

  • Change our thinking about numbers
  • Design ways to reach the "Cornelius\'" whom God already has on the scene
  • Develop training to turn early disciples into indigenous leaders for a new congregation that probably will never have enough people to have a fully-funded pastor.
  • Develop bivocational strategies that will address rural church planting (i.e. develop a database with available jobs)
  • Challenge people who can work remotely with the internet to consider rural church planting
reaching rural north america108
Reaching Rural North America

“Steve\'s Top Ten List”

to effectively reach rural North America

  • Look for indigenous leaders that may be youth, female, etc. “Open the box top a little wider.”
  • Begin a prayer strategy that includes Luke 10:2b "pray for laborers”
  • Elevate rural church planting to a higher mark on the radar in churches, colleges and seminaries.
  • Prepare those called to the ministry early in life to gain a secular degree that can let them live in a small town or village.
  • Get this message to "Baby Boomers" who are the largest mission force that will probably ever exist. They are retiring young, wealthy, healthy, and educated. 

Imagine if we grasped all

that we talked about!



A small-town church that does not question its significance because statistics are not its focus.

Rather, it emphasizes strengthening and building the lives of people, leaving the statistics to God.


A small-town church whose pastor has overcome the temptation to use the small church as a stepping stone to “bigger and better” things. A church that claims to have a pastor who embraces rural ministry.


A small-town church that celebrates its intimacy while enthusiastically welcoming newcomers into that intimacy.


A small-town church that responds to the challenge of limited resources by becoming radically creative. Instead of despairing about the obstacles it faces, it steps out in bold faith, expecting God to do something entirely new.


A small-town church that, in fresh and creative ways, builds its ministries around the people it has.


A small-town church that does not try to imitate larger churches, but studies itself and its community, then prayerfully designs ministries uniquely suited for its place and time.


A small-town church whose members actively share their faith in their own community.


A small-town church that continually sends its people to various places around the globe in obedience to the Great Commission.


A small-town church whose pastor is filled with compassion for people in the church and community, a pastor who appreciates the church’s strengths and is patient with its weaknesses, a pastor who feels, “This is truly home, and these people are my family.”

God sees it as a reality …

How about YOU?