Small Towns Need Missionaries

Small towns across the nation are in desperate need of missionaries

“Small towns desperately need normal, everyday people like farmers, factory workers, teachers, secretaries, and small business owners who think and act like missionaries to reach their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and extended families for Christ.”

 

I grew up on a farm.

Tractors, cattle, crops, big machinery, freezing cold winters, too many cats, and a marathon bus ride to school every morning. That’s right, I grew up on a farm. And that farm was next to a small town that my family and I called home. I’ve lived in small towns for most of my life, even after I moved away from the herd of cats. The small towns I’ve lived in may not be as cool as Austin or have the trendy conveniences of Seattle, but small towns will always be a part of who I am. If you live in a small town, you might know what I mean.

According to the US census, just over half of our population lives in towns, boroughs, villages, and townships with fewer than 25,000 people or in rural areas. Meanwhile, thousands of Christian books are published every year and hundreds of these are about mission and reaching people for Christ. Many of them have insightful and helpful ideas about mission that can be applied anywhere, but many of their ideas don’t seem to work in small towns. We should be thankful for resources like these, but we also need resources written specifically for mission in small towns.

A friend at my church has said that books about reaching people in closed countries in the 10/40 window relate best to mission in small towns because residents often have hardened religious mindsets and impenetrable circuits of relationships. My friend is probably exaggerating the comparison, but I understand what he’s saying because mission in small towns can be incredibly difficult and complicated.

KEEPING THE END IN MIND

Mission is not the ultimate goal of our lives. Pastor John Piper writes,

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.

We are designed to be worshippers of Jesus who find our identity in him. Imagine if you found your identity in being on mission and successfully winning people to Christ. If that’s you, eternity will jolt you because there are no unbelievers in heaven. Let’s keep the perspective that being on mission is a temporary necessity. From now through eternity, Jesus should be the focus and goal of everything we do, including being on mission to reach people with the gospel. While mission isn’t the ultimate goal of our lives, worshippers of Jesus are on mission because it’s the indisputable by-product of worshiping him. My hope and prayer is that many people in your town will turn to Jesus and worship him with you.

REGULAR FOLK

Small towns are in desperate need of missionaries. When I say missionaries, I’m not referring to the pastor of your church or people who suffer for Jesus by building huts and preaching to native islanders. No, I’m referring to regular people. Small towns desperately need normal, everyday people like farmers, factory workers, teachers, secretaries, and small business owners who think and act like missionaries to reach their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and extended families for Christ. Pastors in small towns should be deeply respected for their incredible hearts to advance the gospel. However, the responsibility of mission is given to all believers, not just pastors. If you are a Christian, you are sent to be on mission regardless of where you live or what your job is.

BUILDING FENCE

Almost every resource about mission is based on a certain way of doing ministry. Some resources seem to take a self-righteous tone by telling us and our church how to do ministry in our town. That’s not my goal. We’ve all read books or articles like that and found them a bit off-putting. My goal is to help you better understand principles of mission in small towns instead of offering a rigid prescription for you and your church. In the matter of mission in your town, remember to follow the lead of your church’s leaders because Scripture is clear that they are the ones you must submit to (Hebrews 13:17). My hope is to come alongside your church, not to replace the authority of your church’s leaders.

One of my least favorite jobs on the farm was building fence. My dad always said he felt great satisfaction after making a well-built fence. I have no idea what he was talking about. If you’ve never built a wire fence, it’s actually much harder than it seems. But I did manage to learn that an important part of successfully building a wire fence is to have a series of anchor posts that will support the rolls of wire. Similarly, our study of mission in small towns requires a few unique anchor posts to support it.

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