Rural pastor calls for innovation
The elderly farmer declared, "Around here we appreciate tradition and like doing things the old way."
Pastor Mike Mahaffey smiled as he watched the farmer answer his cell phone and check the strap securing his all-terrain vehicle in the bed of his pickup truck. The phone call had confirmed the GPS was recalibrated on his air-conditioned tractor.
"The innovations used by farmers and ranchers today have not changed what they do, but how they do it," Rev. Mahaffey wrote. "They have made living off the land more efficient, more productive, and more likely they succeed in the difficult business they love."
He identified innovation as crucial for rural churches, too, but congregations often fear it. "Farms and ranches that have refused to use innovations are dying. Our churches face a similar fate."
He looks forward to regional workshops on church growth, Nov. 8-13 in six towns, that are designed especially for Oklahoma congregations of 25 to 80 people. All churches are welcome to participate.
Deadline to sign up is Nov. 1 for "Small Churches Are the Right Size—and Different." (See list at right)
Mahaffey stated, "Innovation is nothing more than finding new ideas, new methods, and new devices to deliver the eternal message of hope, redemption, and transformation to a world that needs it now as much as ever … to make us more efficient, more productive, and more likely to succeed in the work of being and making disciples for Jesus Christ—a work I know we all love.
"I pray each of our rural churches takes this to heart, both clergy and laity alike."
(Mahaffey is pastor at both Catesby and Fairview (at Slapout), and a member of the Conference board for rural and smaller churches. Some of this story is excerpted from his article in the United Methodist Rural Fellowship newsletter.)