ABC’s of Rural Ministry

abc_blocksI get asked by some that have never lived in a Rural area what it is like to serve in Rural Youth Ministry. I love it. I also understand that not everyone is wired the way I am. Here is a short list of some of the things those of us in Rural Youth Ministry encounter on an everyday basis:

A- Alpacas that you feed for a church member in the hospital, and church members help to shear the wool off of, while that church member is recovering…

B- Buggies full of Amish people on the highway (our version of a traffic jam).

C- Covered Bridges are the #1 tourism draw for my area. (see

D- Deer Season Opening day may as well be a State Holiday, because your schools will be 1/3 of normal attendance

E- Eagles (the birds, not the band) visit our area in January and February, and it is kind of a big deal.

F- Festivals for anything you could imagine (and some things you can’t)

G- Gardens can be as big as you choose to deal with.

H- Help. There is just something about a small rural community that comes together to help one of their own.

I- Insurance is insanely expensive in my county due to super-high cancer rates (Agricultural and Industrial run-off into the river that is the main water source for the area).

J- Jails with “character”. I recently visited a community that was founded in the 1820’s that decided to build a jail in 1873. It was one room. The old jail in my community is now a bed and breakfast…

K- Keeping things how they “used to be” is a bigger deal in many rural communities than we can imagine.

L- Lovers lane. Every community has its own remote spot that teenagers gravitate to…

M-Mice WILL be in your house, if there are no cats around (feral or domesticated).

N- “New” is treated as a dirty word, in many situations.

O-Open spaces.

P- Pastor is used mostly as a term of respect around town.

Q- Quail is one of the many things you hunt and eat here…

R- Rattlesnake baby or king snake baby? They look alike, but make sure you make the right identification…

S- Sunrises and sunsets. I am aware that these happen everywhere. However, some of the most beautiful ones I have seen have been in rural areas.

T- Tires taller than your head are on many pickup trucks in your town…

U- Uppity. I hear this word used more often than I can count.
V- Verizon. Through a combination of buyouts and dumb luck, Verizon has managed to have coverage in a lot of rura areas in the US. Just not the county where I live.

W- Wealth is often defined in different terms than just money. It could be land, herd size, or something else.

X-X-rays that are at the nearest hospital…45 minutes away.

Y- Yellow-belly catfish freshly caught, breaded in a frying pan. (Don’t hate until you’ve tried it.)

Z- Zipper breaks on your favorite Carhartt Bibs? I know a guy that can get it fixed.

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Brent Lacy

Youth Pastor. Web Designer. Homeschool Dad. Former Child Abuse Investigator. IT Technician. Writer. Lock-in Survivor. Rural Ministry Advocate. These all describe the experiences and stories that are part of Brent Lacy’s time in ministry. Brent grew up on 160 acres of corn, soybeans and cattle in Southern Illinois. He is currently a Rural Ministry Specialist with National Network of Youth Ministry (NNYM), based in Rockville, Indiana where he lives with his beautiful wife and three awesome kids in the Covered Bridge Capital of the World! His book "Rural Youth Ministry: Thrive Where You're Planted" is available at and on the Kindle Store.

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