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Don’t Hate on Rural Ministry

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Matthew’s Genealogy Like You’ve Never Heard It Before

In this video performance from The Gospel Coalition’s ‘Songs of Hope’ Advent concert (which premiered Dec. 6, 2020), Poor Bishop Hooper performs their song “Christ”—a beautiful take on the genealogy of Jesus recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (1:1–17). The song is from Poor Bishop Hooper’s Advent project, Firstborn, which includes music, illustrations, videos, and writing—including a 48-page study on the lineage of Jesus. Why is the genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel important? Here’s what Tim Keller said in a 2016 interview with TGC: Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus does a lot of work. First, it roots Jesus in history. The gospel doesn’t begin...

Laboring away in their little non-strategic locales, rural Christians reach few influencers and probably do not impress Jesus. Bless their heart.

Though never put so baldly, some of today’s “in the city for the city” rhetoric might at times give the impression that rural ministry is a bit second-class. In a new roundtable video, Collin Hansen sits down with Stephen Um and Jared Wilson to discuss the realities and peculiarities of ministry in rural, suburban, and urban areas.

“Since our world is becoming more urban, there is an undeniably strategic need for healthy gospel churches in cities,” observes Um, pastor of Citylife Presbyterian Church in Boston and co-author of Why Cities Matter: To God, the Culture, and the Church [interview]. Nevertheless, he insists, just because cities matter does not mean they matter more.

If reaching cultural “influencers” made for automatically superior ministry, what would that say about our Savior? As Wilson, pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in rural Vermont, notes, “Jesus went for the scrubs, the left-behinds.”

“Not only is the world is becoming more urban, but rural areas are becoming less Christian,” adds Hansen, editorial director for The Gospel Coalition. Nostalgic notions, then, of a moral middle America—“God’s country”—are misguided and naïve.

Watch the full 10-minute video to hear these men discuss church planting, the need for patience, how Wilson ended up in Vermont, and more.