When talking about planting in Small Town USA. I am often asked, “Why even go there?” I have 3 main reasons for planting in this vital neck of the woods: a) a biblical reason, b) a practical reason, and c) a cultural reason. Let me deal with the first one here, a biblical reason.
You’re probably familiar with the passage in Matthew 9 where Jesus has compassion on the crowds and says the harvest is great and tells the disciples to pray for workers. Then in Matthew 10 Jesus sends those same guys out. Let’s look at it again. 35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38
Did you notice that before Jesus’ compassion on the crowds and before this commissioning of the 12 Jesus ministered to ALL the towns and villages. He didn’t just stay in the metro areas of Jerusalem, Capernaum or Caesarea. He went through ALL the towns and villages. According to John 5:19 Jesus only went to where His Father sent Him. Apparently the Father wanted him to go ALL the towns and villages.
But that small town Israel mission from the Father wasn’t just for Jesus. When Jesus commissioned the disciples He said: 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. Matthew 10:11 Jesus didn’t restrict the 12 to just the metro areas or the cultural centers of His day. He says whatever “towns and villages” you enter.
And of course the Father even commissions us to go. We’re all familiar with the Great Commission text – preach and do the Kingdom stuff nearby (Jerusalem), and further out (Judea), and further out (Samaria), and finally to the ends of the earth. Isn’t it odd that we’ll encourage the planting of churches in the remote villages of Kenya, the Amazon, and Tibet and yet neglect Small Town USA?
There is a Biblical Reason to plant churches in small towns whether here in the States or in countries far away. Jesus went to all the towns and villages. Let’s do the same!