God’s Country: Faith, Hope, and the Future of the Rural Church
What is the subject?
Rural church life and ministry.
Who is the author?
Brad Roth is a pastor who shares his perspectives on life in the www.DoxologyProject.com Brad has been a small town pastor in the United States and a cross-cultural pastor in rural Peru.
Why this book?
This book encourages and enlightens those who serve in the rural/small town church, both pastors and leaders. I was struck by Brad’s heart for local community and the connection to the land. The chapter on prayer is worth the read in itself.
What’s his theological perspective?
Brad is firmly rooted in a theology of cross-shaped ministry. He never disparages the city church but shares a wonderful corrective to the concept that city is the ideal. His heart for a church filled with love, connecting to its wider community in the name of Jesus speaks to both the mission and service dimensions to the body of Christ.
What’s a key insight that you found?
Brad was able to clearly put into words the often unspoken sense of being seen as “less than” and possible resentment that rural communities and churches feel when compared to their city cousins. Without taking sides, Brad affirmed the joy and significance of ministry in the country and its potential to contribute to the kingdom of God both locally and globally.
Who should read it?
Rural pastors will find this book deeply encouraging – Brad knows how we think and what we’re up against. Rural church leaders will benefit and be encouraged by Brad’s love for rural communities and the potential of seeing their role in their communities in new ways.
Denominational leaders who’ve never pastored a rural church will get a window on what it’s really like.
Anyone wanting to understand why the city and the country in our denomination see things differently would be wise to read the book. (Yes, I really liked it!)
“In the face of … change and loss, leaders in the church – and the church itself – are called to abide: to stay put long enough to be made of the dust of a place.”
In talking about the implications of the transfiguration of Christ, he says “Transfigurative discernment sees ways that God is present and at work beyond our own clever planning and prays its way into those realities.”
“The church is the reconciled reconciler, the body that by its very nature and calling works the edges, a church oriented towards the margins.”
[Rick Schellenberg is the pastor of the Blaine Lake (Sask.) Gospel Chapel and has enjoyed 34 years of ministry in rural Saskatchewan.