May 24, 2005

10 Tips for Country Pastors

I grew up in Burbank, under the flight path of the Burbank Airport (now "Bob Hope Airport"), a place where, to raise money for school & church groups, we'd attend TV show tapings (they'll pay you if you can guarantee them an audience). I rode my bike up to Griffith Observatory, and attended movie screenings at the Disney Studios with my friend Bobby, whose Dad worked for the Disney company.

Despite that big-city beginning, in seminary I found myself youth pastor at a small town church in rural Indiana, where many of the church members grew corn or raised dairy cows, and now I'm living in the middle of rice fields and orchards in northern California. How it happened, I don't know, but I've learned a few tips on how to be a pastor of a rural country church.

  1. Plan on staying awhile. Short-term pastorates don't mean much in areas where people live in the houses that their great-grandparents built.
  2. When it takes the organist three tries to find the right chord that leads into the doxology, just keep smiling; she'll get there eventually.
  3. When the church treasurer (of all people) says to you, "I don't know how you make it on what we can pay you," it's probably best not to mention that the clothes you're wearing came from Goodwill.
  4. Wave to the school bus as it passes your house.
  5. When your neighbor's cow gets out and starts eating your garden, don't shoot it.
  6. Don't let the train that blows its horn as it passes 15 yards behind the pulpit distract you from your preaching.
  7. Don't let the skunk that has taken up residence under the sanctuary distract you from your preaching.
  8. Remember to start filling the baptistry the night before a baptism, filling it in stages, because the hot water tank, which can help take the chill off, only holds 20 gallons, and you'll have to fill the baptistry in stages . (Yes, we dunk 'em here at Fairview.)
  9. When asked if you are the senior pastor, associate pastor, youth pastor, young adult pastor, or pastor of visitation, just say, "Yes."
  10. Always give thanks for being where you are, because there's no better place.


reverendmother said...

This is lovely! You could/should write a book.

PPB said...

good advice. should be part of seminary!

jo(e) said...

I loved this list. Number 5 is my favourite.