Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Small town pastors: the first post

Out of Ur notes that small towns have a hard time attracting pastors -- especially small towns in the Midwest. It seems that many pastors find the members of these churches to be:
  • too old,
  • too poor,
  • and too resistant to all those nifty-new ideas they teach you in seminary.
To be sure, pastoring in a small town can be lonely and discouraging -- as one of my colleagues told me, "We deal with all the problems of a big city (such as poverty, mental illiness, illegal drugs, and homelessness) without any of its resources."

Then again, pastoring in a small town does have its advantages:

Advantage #1:
You learn how to deal with a variety of problems.

In the early days of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, I'm told that its unofficial motto was: "One riot, one man." Whatever came your way, in other words, you dealt with it.

Likewise, I've found that a small town pastor needs to be a generalist -- someone who can lead a study group in prison, run the PA system at a swim meet, serve on the mayor's economic development panel, and help a high school student fill out an application for college. (It also helps if you know how to run a thrift store.)

And yes, this means I spend a lot of time feeling as though I'm in over my head.

But when it comes to ministry, that's not always a bad thing.

Tomorrow: Advantage #2


richies said...

I have a lot of respect for pastors and all the things they have to deal with. All the best to you

An Arkies Musings

Herb Douglass said...

I remember the day when I had four churches in the midwest. Versatility and perseverance made it work but it sure was fun. What memories! BTW, the RCMP quote was actually one from the Texas Rangers. Cheers, Herb

Hanan Merrill said...

Hey, I look forward to more of this post. I've wondered at times as I struggle with what pastoring is all about and wanting to be "successful" that maybe there is a calling to small places for what they are, not just as stepping stones to the "real" ministry of bigger places.

I can't say I always really believe or feel this, but it does seem that the call to Christian community is really very simple and can/should be able to happen anywhere-not just in large centers. Jesus ministry was characterized by seeking out the underdogs and bringing them dignity.

And so, I ramble on...

Thanks again for this thought!