This year the global population swung from being predominately rural to having an urban majority. Until this year MOST people have lived in rural areas. Still to this date MOST ELCIC Lutherans live and worship in rural settings…and yet we are captive to urban literature, programs, politics, and the list could go on. If you do not beleive me, stir up an image from your imagination of what a successful congregation looks like? Did you imagine a part time pastor? Were people parking on the lawn on Sunday morning? Were members $10,000 poorer than the average Canadian? Was the neighborhood sparsly populated – like one house every mile or so? Was the building 100 years old and just big enough to squeeze in 65 people comfortably (as comfortable as creeky wooden pews can be)?
Likely not. We are captive to an urban idea of success that MOST ELCIC congregations simply can not fit. And yet…
What if we stopped long enough to take a drive in country and see what is going on in rural churches? We would see the grassroots in action!
You won’t find a study group gathered to talk about the latest study released from Winnipeg. As good as the study might be the people are simply too busy fixing up the local playground, running the local 4-H club, setting up for tonights A.A. meeting, visiting a neighbor in hospital and meeting with the mayor (who just so happens to be on church council) to discuss pressing matters of the community – like the price of gas, public school policies, environmental degredation of water ways and the part time pastor’s salary. Sure it doesn’t look flashy, but it’s what the mobolized grassroots looks like. Its chaotic. Its interwoven. Its unmanagable by even the most sophisticated governance board. And it’s happening everyday across the country side of Canada.
For inspiration, hope and a good dose of what really works, I invite city Lutherans to take a drive in the country. You will what grass roots looks like.
p.s. Take a moment at your next council meeting and ask your leadership to identify those in your church who came from rural communities. Urban congregations might be surprised to realize that rural churches have gifted them with some of their brightest and committed leaders. This is no coincedence. Rural churches have become less, that urban missions might become more. Didn’t Jesus say something about this being God’s chosen model for minstry?