First of all, I would highly recommend you read “Small-Town Ministries and Shepherds.”
Also, read one of my past posts “How To Have An Expository Preaching Church?”
Both posts address some aspects of ministering in small churches and/or in small towns in America.
In one of the leadership meetings at a church that I used to shepherd in the Upper Midwest, I distributed the copies of David Van Biema’s Time Magazine article “A Rural Exodus” (February 9, 2009), which I would highly encourage you to read. Van Biema’s thesis is that many pastors and/or fresh out of seminarians are not interested in small town churches. He notes what many guys think: “A town without a Starbucks scares them.”
What also caught my attention from the article is that only 1 out of 5 churches have a full-time seminary-trained pastor in parts of the Midwest. I believe it. I see it. And I know it. Such statistic does not even qualify what type of seminary training, since not all seminary training is equal.
Like many pastor friends of mine who serve in small rural areas, I too get offended by statements like “All you need is a Bible college degree to serve at a small town church” or “You don’t need a formal training to serve at a small town church” and other similar nonsense. First, it is wrong for pastors to think so low of small churches and/or small towns. Second, it is wrong for churches (regardless of what size) to have such a low view of minister’s qualification. That’s like saying, “It doesn’t matter if my surgeon didn’t go through all the medical training as long as he likes to open people up.” What nonsense! If there are standards and qualifications for our local school teachers, dentists, car mechanics, and surgeons, shouldn’t we also have standards and qualifications (more so) for men to accurately handle the word of God?
Missiologically speaking, I see a huge need for churches to revitalize in small towns all across America, especially, in the Upper Midwest. In some sense I am glad to see churches close down when they are no longer qualified as a biblical church. In fact, I’m praying that more would close their doors. However, I do feel for some of the genuine remnants of God that cannot find a healthy church in their towns or surrounding towns so they have to drive 2 hours or so. That is the case in many parts, such as North Dakota, where I helped a group of people who wanted to plant a church there.