MULTIPLICATION & #RuralMatters church planting initiative in rural communities

by Rob Hoskins, 9/14/16.


While most people in society live in urban settings, more than half (1,378 out of 3,142) of all counties in the United States are considered rural. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 65 percent of counties in the U.S. are rural in population size.

More than two centuries ago, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations prophesied that there would be ongoing division yet mutual reciprocity for survival between the country and city.

What Smith couldn’t have foreseen was our dramatic rise in media and agricultural technology. This, in essence, has led to a massive urban increase. In just one century, global population residing in cities has risen from 14% to well over 50% and is projected to rise to 72% by 2050[1].

The implications for the U.S. Church are profound. Most countries where we work internationally are the last places to receive church planting opportunities because, in many cases, their remoteness renders them unreachable.

This is not the case in the U.S., where a rural Sunday drive is dotted with steeples. However, many of these churches are deteriorating to empty shells as younger populations move into the city for opportunity and access to resources. I have heard numerous pastors share stories of fielding questions like, “Where is the closest Starbucks?” while interviewing younger staff candidates.

The ubiquity of the Internet has been called the death of geography since people everywhere have instant access to the same information and entertainment. However, the new cultural phenomena does impact values, tastes and expectations. The historic belief in small-town values are being tested. These new realities are redefining what a healthy church looks like in a rural community.


New successful methods of rural church planting and revitalization are finding traction and starting to reap great rewards.

– Multi site models that create economies of scale

– Micro enterprise and bi-vocational strategies that attract and can support quality leadership

– City and suburban churches acknowledging that rural communities are as much a mission field as international opportunities to fund and subsidize

– The Church becoming the primary provider for social solutions including treatments for mental health, drug addiction, suicide prevention etc…

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