In my previous blog post I discussed how technology has brought the world to rural communities. This has caused progressive ideas that are more typical of urban areas to now become more common in rural areas. Technology has also allowed people to move to rural areas who would not normally live there. How are these changes affecting the local church?
The influx of new people and new ideas into rural areas is rapidly transforming the rural mindset into a more postmodern way of thinking than what the rural church has been used to dealing with in the past. Postmodernism at its core is the idea that individuals have both the intelligence and the right to decide what truth is for themselves based on their own experiences and relationships without any objective external standards. Because most rural churches would see the Bible as objective truth, people with a postmodern mindset are not as supportive of the rural church as the rural community at large has traditionally been.
Though postmodernism is built on a person's individual experience and relationships, not on any type of absolute truth, many postmodern people are actually interested in learning about spirituality. They just may not be prepared to accept the church's traditional brand of spirituality the first time they hear it. Rural churches will have to work harder to reach these postmodern people. But postmodern people who live in rural areas can be reached because the Gospel is a powerful truth that penetrates even the hardest hearts!
But how should rural churches attempt to reach these postmodern people? Rural churches may be under the false impression that they must toss out everything they practice and believe and find some radical new way of doing church in order to reach the postmodern people who now populate their communities. While many rural churches may indeed need to examine some of their methods and programs in order to be more effective, they do not need to throw out everything and start over. With a few simple adjustments, there are a number of reliable practices that rural churches can continue doing. Four practices that are the easiest to modify and implement are: the church as the epicenter of the community socially, the church as the epicenter of the community ceremonially, the church as the epicenter of the community physically and the church as the epicenter of the community philosophically. I will discuss each of these four reliable practices in separate blogs posts over the next four days.