Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Phil Carnes, DMin
Randall Nichols, DMin
Leonard I. Sweet, PhD
The social, economic, and religious landscape of rural America has changed. Rural America is experiencing brokenness and misplaced hope, yet rural churches are often ignored in terms of missional priority and resources by the Protestant church. However, the biblical story shows that God cares for rural people, and they have not been forgotten by him. A new rural missiology must be developed in order to do for rural ministry what Tim Keller and other urban theologians have done for city ministry in the 21st century. A new rural missiology will motivate Protestant churches to resource rural churches, dignify the call to rural ministry, and bring hope in the midst of brokenness. The new rural missiology will provide biblical weight and practical motivation to make the forgotten people in the forgotten places of America a priority for the church.
Chapter one examines the current reality of rural America due to globalization, economic changes, and the opioid epidemic. Chapter two chronicles the neglect of the small-town church and its struggle in the 21st century and then offers four purposes of a new rural missiology. Chapter three develops a theology for the rural mission throughout the Old Testament narrative. Chapter four further demonstrates the biblical basis for a new rural missiology by looking at the story of Jesus, the commandments given in the Great Commission, the scattering of the Jerusalem church in Acts 8, the example of the Pauline ministry to Colossae, and the future marriage of urban and rural in Revelation. Chapter five studies the work done in rural education pertaining to teacher retention and recruitment in order to find solutions that can be adopted to retain and recruit rural pastors. The conclusion, chapter six, includes practical ministry applications, recommendations for future research, and ends with a new metaphor to fuel the rural mission.
Swinburne, Steve, "A New Rural Missiology: Bringing Hope to Forgotten People in Forgotten Places" (2020). Seminary Doctoral Programs. 390.