SIDEBAR: Strategies for Rural Leadership

by Curtis Pryor

Patience, commitment, and adaptability are essential for rural ministry. Here are some ideas for cultivating these traits.

Listen to people. Engage in small talk. This requires patience when you feel the pressure to get some “real work” done. Purposely take a sincere interest in the ordinary lives of your congregation and the people in your community. Listening will empower your prayers for them.

Listen to God. Be silent before Him. Tune in to the voice of God. Make time for personal devotions. Take some time off for spiritual retreats, even if only for a day or two. Talk to God throughout each day, and be sensitive to His Spirit.

Commit to God’s timeline. The pace of rural ministry is often slow. Watch out for complacency in your attitude, and be willing to go the distance. You will be amazed at what God will accomplish in due season if you remain committed.

Stretch, and learn to adapt. Things that work well in other churches and communities will not necessarily work in your setting. Step out of your comfort zone to communicate the gospel clearly in your particular context.

Avoid isolationism. Work side-by-side with churches in your community for common causes or urgent needs.Pray, preach, and listen to others. This requires humility and a willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to stretch you.

Simplify the complicated. If your church is cluttered with many programs and activities, prayerfully evaluate what is needed, and then simplify.In agreement with your leadership team, identify your biblical strategy of ministry.Carefully eliminate programs and activities that do not fit this defined purpose and process.

Beware of paralysis. Avoid the temptation to implement ideas from books and conferences that simply do not fit the shape of your community.Stick with the Great Commission, and simply pursue it with creativity and passion.

Curtis Pryor, American Falls, Idaho