DNA of Relationships
People Driven and Focused
Rural people want to know how this decision will affect people and relationships. Often decisions are made based on relationships. It is very important to know how people are connected to one another. A small decision made without that knowledge can have tremendous ramifications. Ministry to them is not about programs, agenda’s or projects – It is ALL about people (including the people who are part of the churches history).
Verbal skills are not usually strong
Rural people are very verbal. They can talk all day long – but they are connected to one another with this unspoken understanding. When rural people talk about you – you have to look beyond their words and focus on the heart of the person. They do not pay a lot of attention to feeling and nuances – they simply “speak their mind”. Be careful focusing too much on the specific of what they said.
Trust is everything
Trust is the currency of rural people. Your reputation and family name is everything. You never do anything to jeopardize your reputation, trust, or character. They have very long memories for things like this.
The Pastor is like a Parent
Often the pastor’s role is one of a parent, a coach or a Chaplin. A CEO style leadership is the death of a small church ministry. They want to be loved and cared for, not commanded. Decision making is often informal and tribal. Things like Roberts Rules of Order frustrate them and they will often use that against you if you insist on doing it “by the book”.
They view the relationship of a Pastor to the church much like a marriage. Once they decide you are “in”, they get nervous when you start talking about other ministries. In their minds it would be like a husband talking positively about other women. Most of them take great pride in having a “Full Time” pastor. In some declining rural areas it is seen as a status symbol.
Titles mean little
In rural ministry a title is nothing more than a bunch of words. Your degrees mean very little to them. While they may hold a position of leadership in the church, everyone really knows holds the position of “chief” decision maker. You had better know who that person is or decision making will become very difficult.
Love is essential
In rural ministry you cannot lead people until they know that you love them and are committed to them. Until you have formed relationship, you have not earned the right to lead. Too many pastors make changes without understanding the need for relationships first. When the people know you love them and are committed to them – they will follow you. In fact – they will often overlook your faults and mistakes when they never have to question your love or commitment.
Independence is valued
Rural people love to be independent. While this often exacerbates life problems, it is also a reason for their current survival. They only time they seek dependence is for personal gain. They will join a Co-Op so they can receive a lower price, but they will not join in order to benefit someone else.