Rural Ministry: 10 Ways You’re Doing it Wrong…

I am not writing this article to make anyone upset, call anyone on the carpet, or to make anyone upset. There I said it. Now we can move on…..

There are a lot of things that we do in Rural Ministry that simply do not work. Many of fall under the following categories: Culture of the Town, Culture of the Church/Denomination, Ignorant/Too Well aware of History, It Worked Someplace Else, or I Have No Clue What Happened… (Note: Some of the following 10 may bridge several of these categories. )

10. It worked at _________(Church across Town or Church Somewhere Else) so it will work here….
Rarely happens. Sorry.

9. It’s only 10 kids, we can “wing it’, what could possibly go wrong?
5 P’s – Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. – Learn it, live it, balance it with the moving of the Holy Spirit.

8. We have to compete with __________ (bigger church across town) and have more students
They are not your competition. If they are, chances are that you are on the wrong sideNumbers are not always an indicator we can trust in Rural Ministry. (another whole post for another day…)

7. We used to do it this way in 19__, so it will still work the same now…
There is so much that has changed in the last 12 years since I accepted the call to Youth Ministry that it really makes my head spin!

6. “No, I didn’t test that object lesson before church this morning…”
You know, the one involving the rubbermaid tub full of water and water dynamite in “Big Church”
(true story, thankfully not me…)
See also #9 

5. “No, I didn’t check the reviews on before booking the hotel rooms” (Guilty…)
Remember, the students’ parents and your supervisors are trusting that you have the safety of the students on your trip in mind. Don’t let them down! 

4. Middle School students without concrete rules and expectations are simply apologies to parents, Sr. Pastors, or law enforcement you’ll be giving later…
Spell it out. You may have to explain it several times, and in several different ways, but it is worth it later, when things go relatively smoothly…

3. If you’re expecting to use the “latest technology available” to reach students, you’re about 2 years too early…
Twitter finally hit the town where I serve about 4 months ago….Use that “lead time” to your advantage.

2. If ministering to multiple school districts, the weekend where “nothing is going on” does not exist.
Some students are going to miss activities due to school. Some will miss because of family, boy scouts, or any number of other commitments.  Remember, it is a PRIORITY decision that the student or their family is making. You just pray they are making the right ones.

1. To modify a phrase from Tony Horton – “You did your best, so stop worrying about the rest”
Give yourself some grace. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we have no way of seeing the end result of the decisions we make. We just have to roll with it and pray God is going to work through it.


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