Christians belong in the space of need and desperation because we carry a message of hope that is vitally needed in those contexts.

Multiple voices have articulated a burden for this area, and they are no longer distant and inaudible. Many of these leaders grew up in rural areas and have answered God’s call to return and minister there.

In his book, Transforming Church in Rural America: Breaking All the Rurals, Shannon O’Dell writes,

For centuries, the rural church has been isolated and insulated from the greater Body of Christ by the sheer realities of geography. Those days are gone. There’s absolutely no reason that we cannot be networking together as leaders — those who are resisting the urge to settle — by sharing resources, encouragement, wisdom, and vision. We do not have to do it alone anymore; together we can do so much more and do it so much better.

O’Dell pastors a church in Bergman, Arkansas, population 407. His church is now the hub of a rural church network spanning 13 facilities throughout Arkansas and Texas, with another campus in Russia.

Pastor Jon Sanders is another church planter and pastor who’s waving the flag for rural ministry and church planting. In April 2009, he and his family left Peoria, Illinois, to launch a ministry in Flandreau, South Dakota. That year, Jon received a call from God to reproduce life-giving churches in rural communities across South Dakota, the Midwest and the world. Utilizing Facebook Live, The Rescue Church now meets in five communities and has started an online training course, Small Town, Big Church, to help support and equip other rural pastors.

Bryan Jarrett, lead pastor at Northplace Church (Assemblies of God) near Dallas, is a voice of influence and encouragement for the rural church. At the first annual Rural Matters Conference last September, he challenged leaders …

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