Here’s a funny reason why you shouldn’t wear flip flops to the county fair.

FairWarning

That “fair warning” comes courtesy of Mike Kupferer, who reveals the irony is it’s the foot of a parent of a 4H student. This was not her first time at the fair, which makes it even more unbelievable. From his vantage point, “She didn’t seem bothered at all by it.”

Quick question…

that next opportunity you’re about to step into?

There’s going to be some “dung” somewhere in it.

  • A person whose grumpiness you let make you grumpy, especially as you unconsciously try to make others grumpy about his/her grumpiness.
  • A broken and flawed person who by now you expect to be unbroken and unflawed. (P.S. Have fun waiting.)
  • A system that is full of “crap” (pardon me if that offends you) that doesn’t offend you like “crap” should (pardon me if that doesn’t offend you).
  • A major character flaw in you that affects people you’re trying to impact because it makes them more focused on what’s dangling off of you than what’s coming out of you.

This is the point where I’d perhaps suggest an action step – something you could do get better at this.

Instead, I’d suggest the opposite.

Simply be bothered by it versus walking around with it…

then surrender…

and let Jesus wash your feet.footwashing

“…so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. (John 13:4-5)

Maybe you assume the question is, “What is the ‘dung’ you wish other people were more bothered by?”

Then again, maybe the question really is “What ‘dung’ in your own life do you wish you were more bothered by?”

 

If you have worked in a rural context for more than five minutes, you can see that things are a little different here. The towns are smaller farther apart, and seem to operate at a slower pace. Do not let all this deceive you. You have not stepped into 1940, 1960, or even 1990. You have not stepped into a smaller version of some small city. Relationships and rivalries run very deep. Resources can be as slim here in a rural context as you would see in many urban situations.

Despite all the differences, many things are similar – parents are still parents, and students are still students. Students still have many of the same struggles as their urban and suburban counterparts, such as drugs, teenage pregnancy, bullying, and truancy. Students still hurt. Parents still try and fill every spare moment with an activity, club, or sport.

With all these challenges before you, many will ask? Why bother with Rural Youth Ministry?

Here are 4 good reasons to say “Why Not Rural Youth Ministry?”

1) Much of North America is Rural

Many refer to Rural communities as “flyover country”, giving the impression that the Rural areas do not matter. However, large portions of North America are represented when you say the word Rural. This includes a lot of students that attend small Rural schools. The county where I live has about 1100 7th-12th grade students scattered among three school districts.

2) Even though many small Rural churches are closing, there will be Rural churches around for many years to come.

I have worked as a Youth Pastor in Southern Baptist Churches for 13 years. The largest majority of churches in my denomination are under 500 in attendance. I have heard it said that the average size church in the SBC is about 350. This means that for every mega-church, there are many more small churches of less than 100, or even less than 50. Many other denominations have very similar numbers.

3) Many Rural youth ministries have smaller numbers of students, allowing more individual attention.

One of my favorite parts of Rural Youth Ministry is the opportunities that I get to invest in the lives of students in one-on-one or small group interactions. With a smaller ministry size, I can slow down and focus on one or two students that really need that help through a tough situation or rejoice with them in successes. I also get to experience a lot of “firsts”. There is a student that I have had the pleasure of being with the first time he left the state of Indiana (…and we live 20 minutes from the state line) and the first time he ever flew on an airplane.

4) We are given the mission and commission to “Go into all the world”  - and this includes Rural areas.

One of the members of the leadership team at my church has said many times over the last few years “God told us to go, that means we need His permission to stay”. In many Rural areas there are so many needs that could be met with a few small resources, a person with a specific skill set, or a person willing to take the time to help another pick up the pieces of a broken life. The Gospel is needed in Rural areas just as badly as in the prisons, urban centers, or the wealthy suburbs. They are people that Christ died for that need what only He can give.

Brent Lacy is a Rural Youth Pastor in Western Indiana that lives in the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World” with his wife and 3 kids.  You can come connect with him at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference, where he will be helping to lead the Rural Youth Workers Connect Group. You can also find out more about his book Rural Youth Ministry: Thrive Where You’re Planted at SimplyYouthMinistry.com



If you ever have a disagreement with someone and you want to win, just call them prideful. It’s flawless, because from that point on, anything they say is just their pride swelling up. As long as your the first person to play the pride card, you win, every time.

So say your having a disagreement over the vision of a ministry with someone, they aren’t seeing things the way you see them, just blame it on their pride. Case closed.

I hate that. Because unfortunately, more often than not, the person who plays that card is the one who’s pride is really in the way. Sure, there can be exceptions, but if you play that card, you better check yourself.

I got that card played on me a while back and it infuriated me. There was a real issue that needed to be fixed and is still yet to be fixed because of pride. I knew my intentions and motives going in, and they weren’t flowing from my pride.

But it did get me searching for ways I was being prideful, and unfortunately as a Human being, pride is always to be found.

I take pride in my education. I feel this is a good kind of pride, for the most part, because be it as it may, graduates from my school are sought after more than any other Christian college, and so being able to say I hold my degree from there gives me a bit of a swagger, which can be good or bad.

One of the negative ways it plays out, however, can definitely come out quite a bit. I am blessed to still keep in touch with my old class mates and see them in thriving ministries. It’s amazing to me that some of the guys I was in class with have been able to achieve some of the things they have done right out of college. It’s amazing to me how many went from classes and very little experience to big churches in big cities with established healthy ministries.

Unfortunately, I can often become envious of them. Being in a small town in a small church and seeing several of my good friends with less experience than I have graduate at the same time as me and get job offers from great, large churches, where as I’m having to build in an extremely small town with what sometimes feels as not the greatest support, it can cause me to be jealous.

But I feel like this is something every small town youth pastor deals with. There is this unfortunate myth that small town student ministry isn’t as good, isn’t as important, isn’t as effective. We may not every even outright say that, but if we looked at our ministries, its being yelled.

I could never do that, my church is too small. I could never make a an atmosphere in our youth services that beckons for visitors, I don’t have the resources. I could never plan as great of a camp as that church, I don’t have the time. Whatever it is that you feel you can’t do because of your context.

And though some of it may be true, and some of it may be unnecessary (like how I think it would be awesome to incorporate video’s into our pre-message every week, that’s not necessarily important, nor do I have the time to invest in that because there are other important things to get done.)

So though that may be true, its also false, because there are things we could do, we just aren’t. We have boughten into the myth that our ministry can’t be as great as first united church down the street, so we stop trying those things and get content with what we have.

This is a very dumbed down sentence to describe it, so don’t hold this against me, but the #1 thing that grows any ministry is its leadership. I say its dumbed down because you could come back and say ” Well what about relationship with Christ, or biblical dependency, etc. etc.”

A real leader in a ministry already has that, its a given. But whats missing from that is the leadership attributes such as Vision, Delegation, Mobilization. A real leader in youth ministry will not only be teaching his students the bible, but also the vision of them mobilized to make a difference in their school. A real leader will give their students a purpose that is more than showing up on Sunday or Wednesday nights.

If you want to see your ministry grow, your students need to grow. And if you want to see your students grow, then you need to grow. Continually.

Ben Read is the Youth Pastor of students and their families at West Gate Baptist Church in Trenton, IL, a town of about 2,700 people. He blogs at Small Town Student Ministry.