No Little Places: the Untapped Potential of the Small-Town Church by Ron Klassen & John Koessler

Highly Recommend for leaders in churches under 100

This helpful little book about the challenge of ministering in rural and small-town places comes to me at a most opportune time. The book is about how to adjust to the mindset and small group dynamics of the smaller church and how to strengthen the smaller church.  It is written by two men who are veterans in small-town ministry and understand its challenges and how to be successful in rural and small-town places.   They also talk about how success may be defined somewhat differently than in larger more urban churches.

The book talks about trends in rural and small-town America. One of the trends mentioned is that nonfarm, small-town population is increasing. Copper Hill area has experienced this in spades. In addition, the authors mention that the demographics of the population increase are quite different from the traditional inhabitants of the area. This is true for our area as well. One needs only to observe the dollar values of the newer homes.

“A new word – ‘rurban’– has been coined to refer to these people who have moved to a rural setting while holding onto their urban cultural mindset. When these people come to church, they bring their dual culture with them. They expect the church to offer the best of both worlds – an up-to-date educational program, contemporary music, and a modern facility, along with rural folksiness. If the congregation also includes traditional-thinking rural people with the mindset of a generation past, the arrival of these ‘rurbanites’ sets the stage for conflict” (p. 59).

One of the most effective points in the book is the challenge to pastors of small churches to stop trying to emulate what big churches do well and inevitably falling short and instead take advantage of two things that small churches do best– intimacy and involvement.    Taking advantage of the intimacy of the small town environment might allow for something like dialogue during sermon time, something that works in very small churches but would be unheard of in a mega-church.   Taking advantage of involvement means asking for help from people who might not yet be even a part of the congregation.  Often people in the community around a small church are very willing to help and grow closer to the church as a result.

The authors also point out the different type of decision-making that is usually involved in a very small church. It is less top-down and more family-style and consensus.   The pastor’s priorities also change with less office time and more face-to-face time needed in order to be effective.

I highly recommend this book for all pastors of churches of less than 100 attenders. It will help you be encouraged in the possibilities in your church. And it will challenge you with some new ideas that will make you more effective for the kingdom of God.

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