By Kelly Carr
I loved going to my grandparents’ farm as a child. There was space to roam, play, and imagine. I also recall going to their rural church with them. Everyone who entered the doors was noticed and welcomed. There was a spirit of ease. Members cared for one another, acting as family members—checking on their health, providing assistance. In recent years, my husband has spoken as a guest preacher at several rural churches, and my visits with him to those congregations gave me the same warm feeling I had back in my grandparents’ church—a sense of welcome and care.
I’ve never lived in a rural area, so I’ve only been an outsider looking in. I know there are struggles to live as the body of Christ in rural regions just as there are in other settings. I’ve also been challenged and encouraged when I learn about Christian outreach in suburban and urban areas.
We all have different obstacles and benefits to sharing the love of Jesus in our communities. Every context is different. The ways you build relationships in your neck of the woods are different from how I build relationships in mine. Hearing what other Christians are doing in other regions—their victories and their struggles—can help us share the joys and concerns of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It can bring us together in spirit since we are spread out by distance. It can help us learn more about each other, about ourselves, and about the way God’s Spirit is at work in places we’ve never seen.
These next few weeks we are going to hear stories from rural, suburban, and urban areas. We will find out what it’s like to make friends, share the gospel, and serve in these settings. Let’s treat this like a family reunion—so pull up a chair and sit a spell as we swap stories together.