Ed: How did you come to write The Forgotten Church?
Glenn: I was initially approached by Moody Publishers in 2016 to write a book highlighting the struggles and issues that are confronting rural America and how the rural church is an important part of the universal church community.
It is my hope and prayer that this book would accomplish three purposes. First, that it would help raise the awareness in the broader evangelical community of the needs and issues confronting rural America. Rural communities are facing many struggles that threaten the social and spiritual health of the community.
Second, that it would bring the rural church back into the conversation and strategic planning of the broader evangelical church. And third, that it would provide those who are being called to serve, or currently are serving rural churches a better understanding of the issues and needs confronting their communities.
Ed: What are the primary factors that stop pastors from pursuing rural ministry?
Glenn: Rural churches are faced with a crisis of leadership. In a study of Presbyterian churches, it was found that over 50% of small (under 100) rural churches lack a full-time pastor. While there are a number of reasons for the struggle of rural churches to recruit pastors, there are three that are major contributors. The first is the inability to compete with the larger churches salary structure. While the rural church can often provide a sustainable salary, they cannot match the urban and suburban congregations.
Second, there is a lack of visibility and presence of rural ministry in the educational process and lack of exposure the rural church receives. Finally, there is a lack of prestige and recognition of rural pastors. To be dedicated to rural ministry is to sentence oneself to obscurity.
Ed: What are some of the main conceptions that urban and suburban people have about rural life?
Glenn: Many people formulate their concept of rural people based upon modern media which either presents rural people as the embodiment of the Waltons or rural communities as Mayberry RFD. As a result, people fail to recognize that rural America is facing both a social and spiritual crisis that requires the church to develop new strategies for reaching rural people with the gospel.
Ed: What is the impact of these urban and rural misconceptions, specifically on how rural people are valued and respected?
Glenn: Because rural people are often viewed as uneducated and not progressive, they are looked down upon as being backwards and behind the times. Rural people then feel devalued and threatened as urban voters pass laws and regulations that affect rural people but fail to understand the issues confronting rural communities.
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Source: Christianity Today