Review: Replanting Rural Churches: God’s Plan and Call for the Middle of Nowhere

Matt Henslee and Kyle Bueermann
(Acoma Press, 2019)

Has God called you to replant a rural church? If so, you might be struggling to find resources that support your unique ministry needs. But search no more.

Matt Henslee and Kyle Bueermann’s 2019 book Replanting Rural Churches is specially designed for your work. This short book centers on the “four P’s of rural replanting” – preaching, prayer, passion and perseverance. The authors call these four areas the foundation of rural church replanting. Here are those four areas, along with a key quote that demonstrates the authors’ perspective on each.

  • Preaching: “There will be times you do not want to, times you want to ‘mail it in,’ but we beg you to keep your hand to the plow. Stick to the Bible, preach the unchanging Word and watch the Spirit do His work.”
  • Prayer: “If you want to see God’s kingdom expand in places the world has passed by and passed over, it will require a reliance on the supernatural provision of God.”
  • Passion: “Would you take a moment – right now – to thank God for the church He has given you or the church He may one day give you? Consider what a great responsibility that is! I believe this will help our outlook shift from pastoring them as a chore into joy, and passion will be the byproduct.”
  • Perseverance: “If you are going to survive for any length of time, you will have to learn to be patient with them. Sanctification, like revitalization, is a long process. You must learn to be quick to forgive and slow to become angry when your people sin against you. You must be patient when they don’t respond as quickly as you’d like.”

The book’s final chapter, “The Church the World Forgot,” is worth the price of the book by itself. The chapter looks at Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae as a model for ministry in a rural setting. It includes several key lessons straight from Scripture about ministry in out-of-the-way contexts.

One key to this book’s effectiveness is that every chapter ends with practical bullet-point reminders you can apply to your ministry.

The entire book can be read in a couple of sittings and can be immediately applied to your ministry, whether you’re in a rural setting or not. The book reads like an encouraging conversation over coffee with Kyle and Matt, full of real-life examples and practical wisdom. It’s a great addition to your library.

If you’re in a rural church, consider gathering with a few of your leaders to talk (and pray) through the principles in the book. Or talk them through with other pastors in your community. It’s a great book to foster discussion on the unique challenges of rural ministry.