By Patrick Bowler
Valley Life Church (Lebanon, OR)
Rural America needs movement leaders in the same way as metropolitan America. Pastors, church planters, network coordinators and movement leaders are as much a staple in the countryside as in our cities. Consider the following letter written to an Acts 29 planter (a friend of mine) in Nebraska.
Do Acts 29 Church Planters only plant churches in more urban areas or do some plant churches in smaller towns? Would there ever be a chance of an Acts 29 Church Planter planting a church in [small town], NE? …Our pastor informed the elders Sunday night that he is resigning. We have a nice building, we have nice equipment, we have a coffee bar with great coffee, we have a few committed people, but I feel we have not been a church that has been built on theology… We are sheep in need of a shepherd with a high view of God, Scripture, Jesus, and the Gospel. Any input you have would be very much appreciated. I know you are very busy with your own flock, but I don’t know where else to go with these questions. I don’t want our church to fold. I believe there is a need here in [small town, NE] for a church that is culturally more liberal, but biblically conservative. That doesn’t exist here. I have listened faithfully to most of your sermons online. I attribute most of my spiritual growth to your teaching and that of Mark Driscoll. I don’t know any other pastors that can help.
I first came into contact with the letter when my friend posted it to encourage other pastors within our network by demonstrating that “you never know who is listening online.” After reading the letter, my initial response was, “Are we going to send someone to [small town] Nebraska? Do we even have someone to send?”
There is a huge need for Gospel-centered churches to be planted in rural communities across the country. There are people in smaller towns looking for good, solid, biblical teaching—centered on the cross and mobilized on mission. It is tragic if the best thing we can tell them is to get an iPod. There are churches all over the rural landscape dying for lack of a prophetic, apostolic vision. We are looking for a few good men…