Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tuesday Thoughts by the Window

I love the Savage Chickens cartoons. Whenever I see that a new one has been delivered to my email, I squee.

To the list this particular cartoon proposes I would add "I'm a pastor of a small rural ND parish." Eyes glaze over every time!

I went to a continuing education class at my seminary three summers ago, while I was still at my call in SD, to learn about "PR for Churches." While the whole premise of that class is offensive to some, understandibly, I did learn a few things about making my then congregation more visitor friendly and accesible (without losing focus on the cross).

Anyhoo, most of the pastors at this class were from the metropolitan and outlying area. I found it absolutely fascinating how they treated me after they found out where I was serving (their universal underlying assumption seeming to be that SD is Nowheresville USA filled with people entirely alien to them).

Either they

A) immediately ignored me and anything I had to say from then on


B) took a patronizing attitude towards me and anything I had to say.

I'm sure the response would be even more amplified now that I'm in ND, since by many, this area is seen as the last place in the world you would ever have to want to go. Which is so very, very sad!!! Why do we, as people in ministry, have such deep-rooted prejudices about people, places, and kinds of ministry?? I mean, I know we're just people too, filled with the same foibles and weaknesses, but I have run into some the worst prejudice by those who are called my peers!

So what brought this on, you ask? I was in the Post Office today, which is part of the social center of my tiny town, chatting away with a few people, and it struck me so hard..."these are such good people. People who are doing their best to raise their families and get along. People who are hungry for Christ. People who are hungry to be involved in ministry. And a huge percentage of our church in the larger sense would turn their noses up at them and at this town." The thought made me sad. And that thought reinvigorated my committment to them, and my growing peace with my role amongst them. I can't be all that they want or need, but I can journey with them, encourage them, love them, and together we can live in Christ.

In the end, isn't that what really matters?

1 comment:

Erin said...

Steph, I appreciate this post so much! I've thought about this a lot over the past few years. I always have to grit my teeth a little when I have conversations with or read about young, ministry-oriented people who head straight to urban centers but sort of roll their eyes at the idea of ministering in small town, middle America. Misunderstood urban artists aren't the only ones who need to hear the gospel. Small town/rural folks do, too. And you're right--so many of them are such truly upstanding people doing a great job raising their families despite many of the hardships that plague rural areas.

I look forward to continuing that conversation with you sometime in person!