EP 147 – RURAL MINISTRY w/SPECIAL GUEST ANDY ADDIS
Today the guys are talking ministry in the rural setting with none other than Andy Addis who serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for Rural Strategy for the Replant team at The North American Mission Board.
Here are some interesting trends related to Rural Ministry
- People are leaving the major cities and heading to other areas
- More people are considering or have moved to rural areas
Andy gave us three markers of rural ministry
- Vocational identity
- Ministry Isolation
- Low resources
Jump in and listen to the full EP as Andy provides some great insights into why Rural ministry matters and is something that you prayerfully should consider.
Our great partners at one eighty digital can help you, regardless of your context, to help you get your church website up and running. Contact them today and let them know you are a bootcamp listener.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] All right here we are back at the bootcamp, Bob. I hope you’re ready for the next episode. we are both coming off of some good time, uh, away with family as we talked about in the last episode. And so I, I just got back from South Carolina, you had a little visit to Florida. We had some time away with the fam and firehouse subs at universal getting to speak at the firehouse subs event.
and now we’re diving back into, one of the nation’s leading podcast on church revitalization, replanting, uh, according to page 97 of the SBC book of reports, and milking that as far as I can, as I can take it, because it’s, it’s the one big accolade we have.
Bob Bickford: I think so Jimbo. I, I do wanna rewind though. I want to ask, did you get a free, uh, subs for life card at the firehouse sub convention? Or did you mention that your favorite sub is an Italian sub that like break that down for me? Did, did this, did [00:01:00] this turn into free sandwiches in any form or fashion for.
JimBo Stewart: in any form or fashion? Yes. no firehouse subs. it did not lead to any firehouse subs. It was a catered event. It was pretty, it was a pretty cool event. The first night of the firehouse subs, family gathering as they call it, or family reunion, was a big wild night of, Olympic games with. With like sack racing, huge tricycle races and, basketball and acts throwing.
And all three of my kids competed, trip competed with the adults because he’s 15. They put him with the adults and trip tied for third place on the basketball game and then lost the runoff game cash tied for third place on tricycle races. And one was, was, uh, one his. His, playoff there and tricycle races.
So, and there was a lot of free food that night. We were the card printing [00:02:00] to get our hotel cards at the, at the place we stayed. Was delayed. And so they gave us a free breakfast voucher, which was a just hotel breakfast buffet, which was awesome because I looked on the menu and it was like $28 ahead, which we, would’ve not paid for our family to eat breakfast there.
And so for about 150 bucks, we of coupon voucher, we, so we had some free food for sure. but no firehouse subs food actually.
Bob Bickford: All right, but we’re still fans of firehouse and, uh, check ’em out.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. We recommend firehouse. I recommend the Italian. I put that, they asked me to write a bio for the section that I spoke at. And so in the bio I wrote the Italian was my favorite sub at the firehouse subs.
speaking of the Booker report saying that we are one of the nation’s leading podcast on church revitalization, replanting, there was something else that happened at SBC this year, that the first resolution.
Was an [00:03:00] affirmation of the rural mission field. And so in response to that, we have brought the rural guru, the expert of all things, rural the megasite rural pastor, the multisite rural pastor with the nation’s leading podcast, brand new on rural pastoring and leadership. who gets, uh, his own seat, his own table at the Lifeway breakfast.
Andy adds welcome to the bootcamp. Andy’s the.
Andy Addis: I love the accolades, but I think you have no substance to basis for making at least 90% of those claims. I just wanna make sure that we’re all aware of that.
Bob Bickford: Neither does anybody.
Andy Addis: Well, it’s wonderful to be with you guys. And yes, we are very excited, about that resolution that, uh, that was actually written the year before, uh, but made it to, the, the [00:04:00]floor this past year and to see that attention, so, yep. we’re bringing rural back right.
Bob Bickford: Andy. Tell us about the rural landscape since COVID hit and now we’re coming out of it. Like we. Often having discussions about sub suburbs and cities and that sort of thing. Tell us about the rural landscape.
Andy Addis: Yeah, it’s been really interesting because rural has been, uh, in ministry often a stepping stone over the years. It’s like, you can get your start there, but you’re always trying to climb the ladder up to a, a more urban setting. But since COVID, there has been this return culturally to remote work. I guess not turn, but a, a turn to, remote work, a little bit more of a disconnect and, and people decided, Hey, if, infection becomes a thing in the past, maybe a little distance isn’t too bad.
So there’s really been, An entrance into rurality. That has been very interesting to watch it. As a matter of fact, it happened before COVID. There was an article in the Atlantic weekly that talked about the [00:05:00] five largest Metro cities had actually declined over the last three years seeing, um, kind of a, a return to some urban lifestyle.
So there, there has been this population, I wouldn’t say Boone or anything, but there has been a drift, from some urban life to, to rural life. And with that what’s been really exciting on, on my end is that for the first time, in a long time, I’m talking to a lot of young, ministry types who are being led toward rural from the beginning, that, that, that it’s not an option or where they have to go, but they have a desire, to do work and out of the way places.
And that’s, that’s pretty.
JimBo Stewart: So you talk about, this not necessarily a boom, but a shift back to rural life. How would you, I know this is a question you get and it’s not an easy answer. How do you define, what does it mean? Rural, like when you say rural at, at what point does that, boom, turn something rural into suburban or into urban.
I mean, what’s the delineation.
Andy Addis: Yeah, well, um, [00:06:00] no, uh, you know, I’m not gonna take your bait and get, What you don’t understand is that in rural America, trying to define rural is the quintessential jello to a wall. Uh, E everybody’s got a different definition. It’s like, well, my truck’s louder than your truck. So we’re rural. That’s. The way that works.
so if, if you define it based on, sparse sparsity versus density of population, that’s how the government likes to do that. So they, they have strict, guidelines for how they define rural. There are others who define rural, based on a distance that you have to travel for resources. So like if your town has the Walmart, it can’t be.
The towns that are coming to yours because you have the Walmart, those are rural, what I’ve found, uh, that, that we have done with the rural pastor podcast and with our, our rural strategies. Is that rural? Just like we’ve always done in any mysiological sense. Rurality is a mindset. It’s a people group.
There are rural people in [00:07:00] communities of 10, 20, 30, 40,000 people, uh, that, and they’re legitimately rural. So lemme give you an example. A lot of people would say that I’m not in a rural context cuz I’m in Hutchinson, Kansas, but Hutchinson, Kansas has Walmart. Atwood tractor supply and Orland. Now that’s a rural mindset.
I mean, if you’re, if you just drive down the main street, we don’t have anything else. We don’t have a target. we don’t have big name this or that, but we have three tractor supply stores. So there’s a mindset in that community and it is a rural mindset and we’re servicing rural communities. So, you can define it by numbers.
You can define it by resources. You can define it by economic. But I think the best way to define it is by mindset. What does a, a rural people group look like? They think differently. they think communally. And so we define rurality based on, a people group that experience and enjoy rural life.
Bob Bickford: you give us some of the thoughts, or some of the [00:08:00] preferences, just some of the, the mindset of the rural. context, you know, it, it’s hard to give us a, like a complete list, but just some of the top ones that you’ve experienced in that those who are listening to podcasts that might be thinking about moving into a rural area.
What are some of the things that if they’re the new guy in town, like what are some of the things they need to know about the rural mindset?
Andy Addis: Man that that’s a, that’s a great question. And there’s also some huge geographic differences too, because rural south versus rural Northeast versus rural, uh, Northwest, I mean, the they’re just different. Um, so for instance, let me give you I’m Midwest, right? I’m uh, I’m in Kansas. And so one of the, one of the things you would expect if you move to the Midwest is that you’re gonna think everybody is so nice.
It’s this Midwestern niceness, but the problem is that’s, as far as it goes, everybody will be nice to you now stay away from us, that it, it is our job to be pleasant. Should I run into you, but I don’t want anything to do with you that, that is that, that is a [00:09:00] rural niceness in the south. it goes beyond niceness to, uh, polite insults, right?
Uh, where. well, aren’t you just so sweet means that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. and it’s just different ways that are communicated rurally, but there are three standards by which if you were to enter into ministry, in a rural setting, almost in any geographic setting, Dallas Powell, uh, a CPC for a north American commiss board wrote a paper and he outlined this, and I know it’s in other places, but I always quote him because it’s my favorite source for this.
There are three. Kind of, uh, markers of rural ministry and they are, that you’ll deal with vocational identity because so many of the folks in rural ministry are Covo BVO or volunteer. Very, the full time is not the majority second. Isolation ministries lonely as it is. but, when legitimately you’re the only evangelical pastor in a community of a hundred, or a thousand, that isolation gets real and gets real, real [00:10:00] fast and then low resources.
And this is for a community, not just the church, but like I remember when I was, uh, in college and, uh, doing an intern pastor and a youth pastor, we had to drive three hours to get to a really bad concert. I mean, the, if you, if you wanted to enjoy part of the Christian culture, it was, it was not, it, it, you just couldn’t do it.
and so they’re low resources, but those three things, if you, and, and I’m really selling it now, aren’t I, right. You come to rural ministry, you’ll feel lonely. You won’t know who you are and you won’t have anything to do. but that is part of the challenge of rural ministry. And what that does is it really puts you at a place where. I, I love this. If you are in rural ministry and you’re making headway, you’re really making a difference. There’s not a lot of cultural Christianity in truly rural settings.
JimBo Stewart: I can vouch that. We for sure have some rural audience with the replant bootcamp and have even had, uh, a guest or two outta the rural context. We’ve had [00:11:00] one guest. That, was a pastor that came on while he was in the middle of deer hunting, and used his phone to come on as a guest with us, we had another guest that is his nickname is big country and he had to, drive to, uh, several miles down the road to a friend’s house to park in the driveway to borrow their Satter satellite.
Internet wifi so that he could connect with us. and so,
for sure, we, yeah, we’ve got, we’ve got some of your people listening to the replant bootcamp.
Andy Addis: Listen, what we should do sometime is we can just go through what it signs that you’re in a rural church. I literally have been behind in the, drive through bank line behind a riding lawnmower. And I’ve been through a McDonald’s drive through behind a horse and buggy. I mean, you have not lived until you’ve worried about that.
Getting on the front of your car.
JimBo Stewart: Oh, [00:12:00] I remember one time I texted you, Andy, cuz I was doing a consult with a church, most rural church I’ve ever done a consult with and I met the guy at the church and he said, Hey, do you wanna go grab a cup of coffee at cracker barrel? And I said, yeah, I’d love to, uh, he said, well just follow me. And so I got in my car and I followed him and 45 minutes later we got to cracker barrel.
Andy Addis: that’s what we call low resources. If you have to drive 45 minutes to a cracker barrel, you’re doing rural.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely.
Bob Bickford: let’s do a little bit of flip side and say, dude, what are some of the advantages for a pastor? Coming to a rural congregation and serving in that context, what are some of the joys and some of
Andy Addis: Well, yeah, the, and this is the, the reason that you do it, first of all, rural ministry is primarily relational. So if you love relationships and, and you, and you move at the speed of trust, right. then rural ministry is a great place to be because I, legitimately. When I go to the Walmart because [00:13:00] we are the town with the Walmart.
It’s not a 10 minute in and out thing. It’s a, it’s a 90 minute commitment cuz you’re gonna stop every other aisle and we’re gonna pray with somebody and we’re gonna hear about what’s going on in this neck of the woods. And and so it’s very relational. The second thing is, and I love this.
I’ve got some staff at our church Crosspoint that, that don’t appreciate this phrase, but I’m gonna use it anyway, cause I’ve been using it. And I just going to, but in rural ministry, excellence is relative, what it takes to pull off, um, ministry that will get people to think it’s quality in Kansas city is not what you need in Joi, Kansas.
it legitimately. I, I, if you get a couple of plasma screens and a decent sound system, I mean, you have just become the high tech church in town. You know what I mean? so I’m not saying that the bar is set low. What I’m saying is that it’s easier to achieve excellence, with less resources in, in [00:14:00] many of these places.
And the, the best part of that is your church feels value. they have pride in doing some of those things. Have you ever been to a small outof the way church and they wanted to show you something, that they had just put in, they had just installed or they just started doing, and, and your, your thought was, man, this would never fly where, where we are.
But they were just as proud as could be of it. Well, that’s because in rural ministry, that means something in downtown, wherever, or it means something on the fringe, of this place. So you it’s very relational. you really do get to make an impact and see it up close and personal. And the ability to do excellence it is, more attainable, In that environment and gimme, let me take one more here as well. Part of our personal, goal, our missiology is that we want to tithe. Every community means that wherever we have a Crosspoint location, we want to see 10% of the, the community change, which now if you’re in Fort worth, That’s gonna be an amazing work of [00:15:00] God, right.
But if I’m in a community, we’ve got several of our locations where it’s 2,600 people. You have 200 people coming to church there you’re real close to having 10% of the city. And when you have 10% of the city in your ministry, you are no longer at church in that community. You are that community’s church.
and the influence that you have is monumental on everything. Not just, uh, not just as a church, but with the school board. With the city council with the entire community, uh, you real in rural ministry, you have the opportunity to actually move the needle on, on culture, which is, uh, just a, a great feel and a great position, huge responsibility for those rural pastors, because of that.
JimBo Stewart: I love that. I think the emphasis on relational, uh, is something we try to push a lot here on the bootcamp, talking about the importance of building relationships, leading change, relationally, shepherding people, relationally, in that. Excellence should never supersede the [00:16:00]importance of relational ministry, but it also shouldn’t be ignored.
And I love that kind of that rural mindset that you speak of. Facilitates that and allows for that. One of the questions I had is, is we, we see isolation as an issue really across the board for pastors. I mean, in any context. And so we often encourage guys, Hey man, build friendships, build relationships with other pastors, uh, because they, they get what you’re going through.
They can, relate to your concerns and issues. But I’ve found when I get in some of these like really isolated, rural context, man, that’s hard. That’s not for me. Uh, as a pastor in an urban context, man, I can find another pastor real quick. I mean I have a list, a really long list of pastors. I could go have coffee with today and it wouldn’t take me 10 minutes to get to the coffee shop.
Wouldn’t take them 10 minutes and we could all meet together. and so talk to us about how, how do you, what advice do you have for. Boot campers that [00:17:00] are a little more isolated. They’re not as close to other pastors that they can build relationships with, but they’re still, they’re still something important to building those friendships and relationships.
Andy Addis: Man. I, I think that’s such a good word. And, and the, the number one thing you have to be is intentional. Uh, you’re not gonna fall into quality relationships in rural ministry. Uh, you, you have to make a decision to go out and, and seek those. can I, can I do a little plug here? One of the things that I think I’ve been invited on here for is to help promote the fact that we are trying to combat some, some of that isolation by starting a new community.
It’s, uh, the rural pastor podcast.com and, uh, it, it is a podcast that I have the privilege of hosting and I have a regular volunteer guest co-host with me in mark Clifton. Uh, and oh dude, he is. Not only hilarious, but the, the wisdom in this guy and the purpose is that we’re promoting, the whole rural mentality.
We’re validating that [00:18:00] role. And we’re trying to create a community, because the, truth is we can’t teleport yet. And, uh, rural guys are by vocational. They can’t take every other weekend off or, or three days off in the week to go see somebody. So they’re gonna have to intentionally connect with the community lines that are available.
And so we’re trying to create some of that there. but additionally, uh, one of the things that, I guess, you know, some people are gonna like this. Some people won’t, but I just was at a funeral for, um, a friend of. Who, uh, he was a pastor and, uh, he died of cancer and, uh, funeral of course was a sad but joyous occasion.
But what was interesting was that there was a Southern Baptist pastor, which was his tribe. There was an assembly of God pastor, and, uh, they were in a Methodist church, and. doing this. And so I think in rurality, you, you have to be able to open your arms up to a little more ecumenical friendships.
Uh, you don’t have to agree with everything. Matter of fact, one of the jokes was, that when mark passed, he knew that his friend from the ag church would be [00:19:00] doing the message. Well, he’s Southern Baptist. Friend’s ag goes, I really want him to talk, but here’s what you can’t talk. And I thought that was great, that he gave directives ahead of time, but, but that just showed the value of their friendship.
So, I think you have to intentionally look for, you have to pursue those. You have to value them. and then the other is you have to make yourself available. The one thing that can happen is in isolation. Rural guys value we’ll we’ll fight, about whose town is smaller or who has less. And it’s kind of a, a pride thing.
Well, you can’t let that seep into that isolation part of it because like, well, man, I haven’t had a conversation with anybody. I haven’t gone out with anybody and I, I, my, I haven’t dated my wife and how long, cuz we can’t boy, you can’t do that. You have to intentionally stay healthy on the relationship side and whether it’s connecting online or connecting with some guys that are of similar.
Values, that are close. you just have to be intent.
Bob Bickford: Andy. Tell us a little bit about, your heart for the rural pastor. It, I know it comes through in, in a [00:20:00] lot of our conversations that we get to have with you as in your role as a, a volunteer coordinator of rural strategy for the replant team of the north American commission board. Just that. Passion comes through, but just tell us about the guys who are in your view.
When you think about the podcasts, the resources, the, the things that you produce, who who’s, the guy in your mind that you’re really hoping to encourage and, and help out.
Andy Addis: My goodness. I, I love the guy. Let, let me describe a guy. That’s gonna describe all kinds of guys. he, comes home after working all day at a construction. to greet his kids, uh, who are playing video games. they, they hug his neck and he sends him out. So he can go see his wife who just got done working all day as the receptionist at the school, because they gotta have the two incomes to support the fact that now he’s gotta walk down the hall after he kisses her coming home and sit in the makeshift.
Third bedroom office, where he’s gonna pound out a message for Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and do the Wednesday night youth group. And this [00:21:00] guy is only getting paid a stipend. he’s got to keep his other full-time job because that’s how he ensures the family. Uh, he’s driving a 1990s truck, but he does it every week.
Because he loves the Lord and he believes that God has got him there for a purpose. and that’s the kind of guy, because he’s given everything, he’s given his life to places that everybody else is flying over. Um, and, and he’s volunteering to coach at the high school and he is showing up to every community event because he wants to make an impact.
He’s throwing spaghetti on every. He has ever seen, just seeing what might stick. That’s the guy he’s burning the candle at both ends. and, and given everything that he’s got, and I wanna do everything that I can to resource, to love on and to applaud to pat on the back and to pour into that kind of guy, uh, because no one else is doing what they’re doing and no one else is lifting them up.
And I think that it’s time that there’s some of us who lift those guys. Sorry.
JimBo Stewart: That’s so [00:22:00] good. As you’re describing that it’s really not all that different from the, the missionaries that we champion all across the world. Right. That we send to, the middle of nowhere of these other countries. And, and they’re dealing with a lot of these same things. Uh, although they’re usually, I mean, these days.
Most of ’em aren’t full-time just missionaries anymore. Right? They’re they’re by vocational or convocational of some kind, that’s the way we’ve kind of shifted our international mission strategy and we’re sending them over there to, to do some other vocation while they’re on mission. And they’re.
Extremely isolated and they don’t have the same access to resources. And so one of the things I’ve heard you talk about, I’d love for you to share real briefly is, is even not only a shift of how do we have resources like the rural pastor podcast and the replant hub and things like that. But what would it look like for churches in suburban urban context to think of the rural mission field as a mission field that they need to [00:23:00] partner.
Andy Addis: Yeah. You know, that’s, that’s a whole brand new world because we’ve always thought about missions as being over there. so let me just brief to, to do this briefly. Let me explain, who we are as a church. Now, I I’m coming to you with my hat of the rural pastor podcast and the, the Nam rural strategist.
but I also pastor a rural multisite video driven. Rural multisite so I know there’s a word in there that offended at least half of you, right? Video driven. Multisite some, but, but just bear with me on this. The reason that we do it is that we find that as a church, we are able to plant in locations, in ways, and in, in places.
And with guys that couldn’t be done if they weren’t part of a network like this. so our guys don’t preach every weekend. Most of them don’t want to. But they are released to do 40 to 60 hours a week of, uh, actual discipling in mentoring, because somebody else is carrying that way. They don’t have to do the books, because the central services [00:24:00] does the books for them.
And, and, and therefore we can hire a high school biology teacher, to do this part-time gig because God’s called ’em to it and they wanna do it. But they can’t do it full time there. What I’m getting at is that there are churches who, if they would multiply their resources and they would see themselves as sending, and strengthening and starting, that they could personally have that input.
So, so let me give you an example. One of our locations, their mission trip this summer for their youth group was a two week tour through the state of Kansas, where they went to three D. Of the other churches in the network to either do facility repair or backyard Bible clubs. and, they were legitimately helping in rural places within the network where the needs were known in doing real mission work.
And so I love that Jimbo that you just said that it’s kind of like they’re the missionaries they absolutely are. And, and we need to see that a lot of these places. Where guys are going and, uh, and they have to sacrifice so much to do that. It’s not a career move. It’s not a [00:25:00] step up. They are missionaries called and doing an effective work.
And that’s why we get a chance to support them like this.
JimBo Stewart: Man, it’s been so great to have you with us, Andy, to the boot campers, just to recap a little bit, some of the three things that really, become a part of rural ministry is struggle with vocational identity. Isolation access to resources, but there are benefits that it’s primarily relational, that excellence is relative and it is truly a mission field.
And so if you’re feeling called to that, if you’re in that mission field, you wanna know more about it. we can’t encourage you enough from the bootcamp to go to the rural pastor podcast.com, and check out that, check out replant hub.com. Another project that. Highlight on here that Andy is a part of working towards, and, man, if you wanna know more, just let us know.
And we’d love to dive into that with you. Thanks for being with us today, Andy.
Andy Addis: Man. It’s been a blessing. Thank you guys for thinking about all the guys out there, serving and out of the way places we all appreciate it.[00:26:00]