Until we moved to Germany in the summer of 2010, I had no experience with rural youth ministry. I’d lived in cities all my life and the last few years in Holland, we’d lived in the most densely populated area known as the ‘Randstad’.
But youth ministry in the small town (pop 1250) where I live now is completely different. Just yesterday my son went to a nearby forest with the Kindergarten to do a Easter egg hunt…and they went with tractors, not cars or buses. That’s life here and it’s different, just like youth ministry here in a lot different from what I was used to.
I’m still adapting to the realities of rural youth ministry and that’s why I loved reading Brent Lacy’s book Rural Youth Ministry. This guy knows what he’s talking about as he has a lot of experience in doing youth ministry in rural areas. A lot of what he wrote was familiar to me, as I’ve made the same discoveries.
This book is a great introduction for anyone contemplating or moving to rural youth ministry. It offers useful observations on what makes rural youth ministry special and different. There are also lots of practical tips for instance in using festivals and other events as outreach.
My first thought after reading this book was that it was way too short. I would have loved to read more observations, especially on differences between youth culture in urban and rural areas. I’ve experienced these myself and the difference is bigger than one might think. Chapter 3 on building relationships was an example, Brent stresses that relationship building takes more time here (a slow cooker compared to a microwave) and he’s right. I just think he could have written a lot more about this and about other topics, like family ministry in rural areas, or the type of activities that might work, or more on the loneliness that comes with working in a more isolated area.
All in all Rural Youth Ministry is a good book, a great introduction, but I really do hope Brent will take the time to write more on this important topic. Maybe not in this series of Everyday Youth Ministry as these are typically short books, but he should really write a handbook for rural youth ministry. He certainly has enough to say I’d think.