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January 12, 2017

Remembering the Back Seat Passenger

By Daniel Im

*Plus Members can listen to this entire Behind-The-Scenes interview by logging in and clicking here.

Remembering the Back Seat Passenger

Be honest. Have you ever called “shotgun” so that you could ride in the front seat? I’m sure at one point or another, we’ve all called “shotgun.” Now, unless you tend to get carsick, calling “shotgun” isn’t the most selfless thing one could do. Even though calling shotgun won’t earn you the selfless person of the year award, the front seat (for most people) is the more desirable option of the two.

There’s no denying that in today’s church planting realm many leaders have seemed to have called “shotgun” for urban areas, which then means that rural areas have been relegated to the backseat. But there is a bright side to the backseat. Tremendous opportunity is present for ministry in the small town.

The downside to riding in the backseat is that there is a tendency for those in the front to forget those in the back. It’s the principle, “out of sight, out of mind.” While urban (and suburbia) church planting enjoys riding “shotgun,” we must not forget about rural church planting. It’s still there, and it’s still important.

Here at NewChurches.com we want to remember rural church planting. In an effort to bring some attention to this area, I recently conversed with Aaron Morrow, author of Small Town Mission, and church planting practitioner and coach for rural areas. During our conversation, Aaron shared at least four principles for people to consider regarding planting in rural areas. 

1. Reputation Matters.

According to Aaron, you can’t remain anonymous in a small town. Thus, if you’re going to plant and be effective in a rural area, your reputation—what people think of you—matters. Proverbs 22:1 may be a good verse to keep in mind: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” It’s impossible to have a good and effective ministry without having a good and respectable name–especially in rural areas.

2. Be Simple, Not Showy.

In rural areas you don’t have to have a big personality with rock star qualities to be effective. In fact, according to Aaron, he believes such personalities and qualities are too much for many small town rural areas. People, in rural areas, aren’t comparing their church to the mega one down the street with all the bells and whistles and the larger-than-life preacher/leader. Thus, the person who will succeed in small town rural areas in North America is the simple, present, humble, approachable, and loving person. In other words, it’s the person with a priestly posture.


To read the final two points and to listen to the entire Behind the Scenes with Aaron Morrow click here for the full video and post.

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  • While urban church planting enjoys riding “shotgun,” we must not forget about rural church planting.

  • In rural church planting reputation matters! “You can’t remain anonymous in a small town.” @AaronMorrow78

  • It’s impossible to have a good & effective ministry without having a good & respectable name.

  • In rural areas you don’t have to have a big personality with rock star qualities.

  • In rural areas and small towns, it takes longer to build relationships, earn trust, and establish connections.

  • One of the more effective ways to find planters to plant in rural areas is through development rather than recruitment. 


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.


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