A new and unique book has been published by the North American Mission Board. As of yesterday, I was told that it is not yet available to order–but that option is coming soon. I recently received my copy; so, check out the agency’s web site for updates as to when it will become available to you.
George Garner has complied a series of chapters related to rural missions in the book Rural Church Planting: A Missional Footprint. I was honored to be able to contribute a chapter to it. Since many of you have a heart for the 60 million people who live in rural areas of the United States and Canada, I have been been looking forward to posting this interview.
George is one of very few outstanding rural missiologists in North America. He has both years of rural church planting and pastoral experience in the United States as well as academic missiological training. I had the privilege to serve on his doctoral committee a few years ago, and was greatly impressed by his research and writing. He is a sharp thinker on rural missions. You may visit his web site HERE.
George recently responded to several questions related to the book and rural work.
What is Rural Church Planting: A Missional Footprint about?
From Appalachia to the Adirondacks, from the Great Plains to the Pacific Northwest, the rural areas have specific needs every church planter should know. Rural Church Planting: A Missional Footprint outlines the essentials for anyone called to this critical mission field. The new book shares creative models and strategic practices from missiologists and practitioners serving across North America.
Why did you work on this book?
I was the compiler of the book. While I wrote significant portions of the book, it includes 31 additional writers. These contributors range from academic missiologists and seminary professors, to a wide range of practitioners serving in every aspect of church planting in rural regions across North America. This volume contains missional reflection and practices represented by the contribution of some of the brightest and best of missionary thinkers and missionary practitioners.
What makes this book different from others on church planting?
Nothing previously has been written in evangelical North American missions to the level of this resource. While the literature is replete in regard to the rural church, and shelves are full of volumes on church planting, only two books of note have been written about planting a church in rural venues.
Why should North American churches focus their resources on rural church planting when most people are moving to the cities?
There are approximately 60 million people living in open rural and small towns across the USA. This represents 20% of the U. S. population. These are people that Christ died for. They are important. We often use the phrase for some remote rural area, “out-in-the-middle of nowhere.” No place is or no person is unimportant to God and should not be to us if we are obedient to our Master. Every place is some place for someone. Every person is someone to some person.
If we are to be faithful to the Great Commission we have no choice but to be concerned for all people. Therefore, an equal priority must be given not only to reaching the massive cities of our continent, but also the small cities, towns, and countryside populations. Now that being said, good strategy for less populated rural regions does not mean a massive outlay of funds. We should invest our mission funds to have regional missionary strategists. However, an appropriate local missionary force and pastoral force must be bivocational, tentmakers, and include lay leadership.
What are some of the larger unreached minority groups living in rural areas?
Surprisingly, there are a wide variety of minority groups of all stripes living in rural areas, depending on the area. Yet in most rural regions of the U. S., we find the largest are Hispanics and Blacks. A wise missionary will be an expert to know this and then lead his churches to develop appropriate strategies. It is never an option to have “no” strategy to reach all peoples in our mission field.
Bobby Sena and Twyla Hernandez speak to the Hispanic issue in the book. James Jenkins has written a fine chapter entitled “Planting Churches in the Rural African American Context.” Also, I would commend to the reader the chapter by Pastor Artie Davis who has planted a multi-ethnic church in rural Orangeburg, South Carolina.
What are some ways small, rural churches can be involved in church planting?
For Southern Baptists, I would encourage every church to go to www.namb.net and click on “Mobilize Me.” There are excellent opportunities for churches of all sizes and in every rural venue to be involved in church planting.
I want to encourage you to get a copy of this book. Even though you may be working in a non-rural context, you are probably likely to know people laboring in the rural context. If so, please let them know of this resource.
Thank you, George, for sharing with us today.