Platform: The Joys of Rural Ministry
By April Fiet
As a seminary student, I knew that the majority of churches were in rural communities, but when the time came for me to accept my first call to a rural church, I was intimidated.
I have now served as a pastor in a rural community for eight years, and I have been surprised by the joys I’ve found—joys in the ministry, in the people, and in rural life.
Because rural churches often have limited staff, the minister has many opportunities to discover where she or he is most gifted. I’ve been blessed to work with all ages—from senior adults to preschool kids—and to experience many areas of ministry. Having the opportunity to try a variety of things has helped me grow in my gifts.
I have also been able to write for the newspaper, work with the community club, connect with the school district, and take my kids out to pet baby animals on a farm.
In rural churches, many people may be lifelong members. They’ve raised their children and grandchildren there. The collective wisdom of long-time members is a tremendous gift as leaders cast a vision and seek God’s direction.
People—and churches—in small communities have to stick together. Families and friends lean on each other. Neighbors look out for one other. Small churches may not have enough resources to accomplish something large on their own, but with ecumenical partnerships, amazing things are possible.
Rural congregations often have parsonages, which can be a benefit (especially for the pastor with student loans). Parsonage-living means getting to walk to work each day, and living near the church provides a lot of flexibility.
The streets are quiet, parks are nearby, and beauty is everywhere. These things help my life feel more balanced. Some amenities might be a bit of a drive, but the slower pace of life and wide open spaces are worth it.
Rural ministry may not be for everyone, but the joys have blessed me far more than I ever could have imagined.
April Fiet is co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. “Platform” gives RCA members a chance to share their opinions.
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