Friday, December 1, 2023

New Vitality for 

Changing Churches

Finding Hope and Purpose in Our Ever Evolving Identity

As our ministry contexts change, so does the mission of our congregation. Evolving demographics in the community, declining membership in the church, even dwindling resources available to do God's work can all have an impact on how we see ourselves and how we live out our mission and ministry. But even when our church experiences change, we can still have an active and vital life as the Body of Christ. One of the mistakes that we often make is in failing to realize that while change may make us look different, different does not have to mean ineffective. We are still the church...a church called by God.

This video is the beginning of a conversation about how we can revitalize our congregations by reexamining our own perceptions of mission and identity in the midst of continuing change. Click on the link and consider your own ministry context.

                                          New Vitality for Changing Churches

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

 You Know You Are a Rural Pastor

One of my favorites from the past. A reminder of the special nature of our calling to the rural church.

You know you are a rural pastor if…

You didn’t realize that most people actually buy sweet corn.

Your organist has had to leave the service because the cows were out.

You expect attendance to drop during planting, harvest, and deer season.

You learned that “a little lunch” is actually another meal served at 10:30 a.m. or 3:00 p.m.

You have prayed for it to rain – and for it to stop.

You realize that if someone offers you a doughnut, they are not asking if you are hungry.

You know that coffee is just a good excuse to visit.

Your car and your cell phone have taken the place of your office.

You have made a pastoral call with rubber boots on.

You have actually done counseling while riding in a combine.

You regularly drive 100 miles to the hospital, sometimes several times a week.

You have seen neighbors complete someone’s harvest in one day because they had a crisis.

Your church secretary knocks on your door at 6:30 a.m. because she let you sleep in.

You know the names of the dogs on every farm in your area.

You have had breakfast at the sale barn.

You know how to read a plat book.

You know that comments about green and red tractors are about loyalty, not just colors.

You can tell which of your members raise cattle and which raise pigs when they come in the room.

Local doctors are not afraid to call you when a patient needs your prayers.

It has taken you three hours to get the mail from the post office (because so many people wanted to visit).

You tell distance by minutes, not miles.

Pies, cakes and other baked goods regularly show up in your office.

You have received a grocery sack full of beef or pork for Christmas.

Memorial Day is a big deal at the local cemetery and you are expected to pray.

You get a Christmas gift every year from the local funeral home.

You know that scalloped potatoes and ham is its own food group.

You have done Christmas caroling while being pulled on a hay rack.

Your board meeting can’t start until 8:00 p.m. because several elders have to finish milking.

You have to lock your car doors in the summer or you will mysteriously get a sack of zucchini.

Your nativity scene has real sheep.

You have driven 20 miles for an ice cream cone.

You have eaten at least one meal that featured an animal with a name.

You regularly see four or five generations of a family in the same pew.

You know that a veggie burger is a hamburger with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.

You are not surprised when your doorbell rings at 2:00 a.m. because someone needs to talk.

-  Skip Shaffer, 2018