So I had the privilege of being part of 4 different Rural Church Pastors Network gatherings in the last couple of weeks. The question came up, “What do you mean by rural?” So here’s my attempt at defining “rural”.
Rural could mean a community of 213 or it could could include a community of close to 10,000.
Rural could mean a church of 43 or a church or two of over 200 or more.
Rural could mean you may pass a combine on Main Street.
Rural could mean you have one local store/gas station/coffee shop/post office or a strip mall or two.
Rural could mean you have a school that only goes up to Grade 6 or you could have a couple of elementary schools and a High school.
Rural could mean the men in your church go to work in coveralls or a business suit and tie.
Rural could mean prairie farms or logging companies or fruit trees.
Rural could mean cottage living or 3 generation farms.
Rural could mean oilfield workers or small business owners.
Rural could mean just outside of an urban center or hours away from the nearest city.
So what ties rural places together? What is it that is similar even in the differences?
Often rural means a slower pace of life. Because the place is generally a little smaller, there is less to do, less places to be. A traffic jam is unheard of. Often about half the people have lived there all their lives, as did their parents, and even grandparents. The other half is passing through, only staying as long as they need to before they get transferred to a larger center. The chance is better that you will recognize just about everyone and they will know who you are.
I’m wondering if “rural” may be more about a “mindset” than about a location or specific size of community? I’m not sure. But often there is just a bit more of a sense of concern for the whole community. People like to get involved. And people enjoy the fact that they can raise their children there with a little less fear for their well being.
I don’t know if that helps.
Any ideas? Let me know.