Beulah Land

I had the distinct privilege of meeting with the Director of Missions, Jack Long, and several pastors from the Beulah Baptist Association today.  I made the drive over to Union City in about an hour today.  I spent that hour praying and thinking about how far this process has come.  Less than a year ago the Rural Church Affinity Team of the Tennessee Baptist Convention didn’t exist.  Today we are actively meeting with and engaging rural church pastors and leaders across the state.  We are listening to their frustrations, their struggles, and especially to the many victories God has brought to their ministries. 

The guys I talked to today were a lively bunch with a lot on their minds.  We discussed the health of the rural church.  We discussed the relationship between rural churches and the state convention.  We discussed the unique role of the rural church in reaching their communities.  We talked in depth about pastoral and leadership issues within a rural context.  At one point we even discussed the recent discovery of Bigfoot outside of Atlanta (we chased a few rabbits.)  I was pleasantly surprised by the number of guys who had been in the same church for five years or more.  In a day when many guys are looking for the bigger, better church ,it was good to hear that some are able to stay in their rural contexts for long tenures.

Like alot of us, these pastors were tired of being compared to large churches.  They all believed that the rural church was doing good Kingdom work.  They understood there were challenges but that God was bigger than those difficulties.  They understand that the work they do doesn’t always fit nicely in a book of statistics.  They all seemed to have a grip on the fact that God had called them to the place and to the people they were shepherding.  They understood that their churches had a wonderful heritage and that God was not done with them yet.  Praise God. . . they believe that God has plan and a purpose for the future of their churches.

I had a fantastic time meeting with these guys.  I was encouraged by these pastors and their unwavering commitment to Christ, the call on their lives, and their candor in discussing the rural church.   Oh yeah, if any of you Beulah guys are reading this, I saw Bigfoot on the way home just outside of Dresden.

Published in: on August 19, 2008 at 2:48 am  Comments (3)  


  1. So, you have noticed also that the ACP report doesn’t have a category for a rural “plateaued” Church whose individual members gave as much as $1,000 to help place a person in a Christ centered drug rehab that can’t accept medicare! You can’t record marriages saved. You can’t record the week in and week out ministry of plowing the field that results in church attendance by the third generation community alchoholic. Naw, the rural Church is just plateaued because God only baptized 5 last year and S.S. Avg. dropped by 5.

    That being said, your post on mediocrity is spot on and is a constant danger for us out on the by-ways.

  2. Perry,

    I’m not sure that I can really tell how you feel about the ACP. I got lost in the subtle nature of your writing. Could you please clarify? Just kidding! Yeah many of the guys I talk to don’t hate the ACP, they just don’t feel it represents what is really going on in their churches.

  3. Yeah, I am actually ambivalent about the ACP. I just don’t think it is particularly relevant when it comes to evaluating ministry. It really gets back to presuppositions about what constitutes a healthy Church and faithful ministry. These may sound like practical issues but they are directly related to serious doctrine. Ecclesiology, Missiology, epistemology, soteriology ect. We focus so much on baptism numbers yet according to baptist doctrine (Calvinist or not) we can not control baptism. Baptism is for the believer only and only God can convict, draw, and saved. The only way we even “potentially” affect baptism numbers is focusing on how Word-centered we share the Gospel (Romans 10.5-17) and how often and to how many people we share the word of the Gospel. Yet, even a significant increase in those numbers is no guarantee that there will an increase in baptisms. Point being, our methods of evaluation are not consistent with Biblical theology or Baptist convictions.

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