Task Driven, not Time driven
I was very frustrated coming from a large city mentality. In my previous world, if something was scheduled for 8:00, then it started at 8:00. In a rural world, most of their life is unpredictable and out of their control. They view things in the context of tasks. When the chores get done, they will be at church. (By the way – they will now view church as a task – so in many situations – I am more attentive to the clock than they are).
I had to learn to see their world from a task perspective rather than a time orientated one.
Things move at a much slower pace. They will not quickly accept new ideas or programs. When something new is proposed they need time to think about it and talk about it. This can be very frustrating to someone from the city. You will have to learn patience – if it is a good idea – they will eventually adopt it, but on their time table, not yours.
Jack of all Trades
Rural people love the challenge of doing it themselves. Sure they can take it to a “professional” and have it done in half the time – but they want to be able to say “I did this”. The idea of “excellence” and “professionalism” is not important to them. Those are big city concepts. They take much more pride in doing it themselves than in hiring it done professionally.
The only real work is “Physical” work
In the rural world – a desk job is not a job. You must earn their respect by showing them that you can sweat and put in a hard day of physical labor. They value people who have grease under their fingernails and sometimes question a man with all 10 of his fingers. I have found that I often have to dress “down” to visit them.
Blue Collar mentality
In a rural world, they have a natural distrust for city ideas. It is a natural safety mechanism that has helped them survive to this point. They have watched larger corporation come into their areas with lots of promises and taken over their land, their farms and their co-ops. They have a number of flags go up when you start suggesting a “city” program. They are naturally critical and cynical of any ideas from your “pastor” friends.
In a rural world, they do not easily grasp goals, visions, etc. They think on a much smaller scale. In a rural ministry – you must start small and work for success over the long term. When we started a Ladies Night Out we planned on a small group and made it a great night. As the women talked about it – each year we have seen it grow larger. Had we based its success on the first year alone – we would have never continued the now annual event.