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I recently wrote an article for Influence magazine with Tena Stone. Tena is director of research and training at OneHope, serves as a primary researcher for the Rural Matters Task Force in North America, and is part of a church plant in rural Georgia. It’s worth sharing here. God is on the move in rural communities, and it’s past time we acknowledge it and celebrate the work so many in rural ministry are doing. In Part 1 below we give an overview of the realities and talk about cultural homogeneity.
We live in a world of paradoxes.
Charles - Dickens - A - Tale - Cities
As in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, it is the best of times and somehow also the worst of times. It appears to be the age of information and knowledge, yet proves to be an age of foolishness. It is an era of belief and a time of faithlessness, a season of light in a world of complete darkness, a spring of hope amidst the winter of despair. This seems to be the narrative of many churches in America, but especially in rural America.
The story of rural America is one of grit, resourcefulness, independence, craftsmanship, and sheer determination. It is the story of community, lifelong relationships and family bonds. This image holds a nostalgic place in many hearts.
Time - Areas - Endurance - Warm-heartedness - Neighbors
Those who live in, or have spent significant time in, rural areas may have witnessed its endurance — the warm-heartedness of neighbors, the firmness of family values, the closeness of relationships and community. There are still examples of this today throughout rural America. It is a wonderful narrative to embrace and catalyze in ministry and mission, an ideal worthy of aspiration.
But it is not the full picture.
Story - America
There is another story of rural America, and it is much more troubling.
J.D. Vance called our attention to this last...
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