I heard a seminar recently on "the needs of the rural church." It was clear that some felt the poorer rural churches were struggling to "compete" with the larger churches for church members. The complaint was that the rural churches couldn't hold church members who were often drawn to the larger churches in surrounding areas, where more benefits of membership are apparent. Bigger Sunday School departments, more community involvement, more individualized activities geared for a more specialized demographic.
As a result, smaller churches that had already struggled to remain within the community were now, in these hard times, losing ground financially. And, the solution seemed to be for the smaller churches to be bolstered artificially in some contrived manner, by support being offered at the larger organizational level.
Perhaps. It couldn't hurt anything. But, more than anything, what a church needs most is "vision." Matthew 15:14 In reality, it would appear that every community has unchurched people. In reality, church attendance world-wide is in the process of decay. It used to be that church attendance dropped off noticeably during vacation seasons. Now, it is often down already. Why would any church feel the need to compete? Go get your own. Grow your church from scratch. Look for a church attendance/ growth explosion in the later months of 2012, early 2013. Can you see it?
I realize that there is always that large contingent of churchgoers who will float from church to church within the same town... not just relocating or whatever. That happens everywhere, regardless of church size. The point is, church is supposed to be a harvest operation. Farmers don't compete to harvest the crops. They all plant, and they all reap their own home-grown harvest. Joel 3:13-16 Revelation 14:15
John 4:35 Say not, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
We are living in a time when men's hearts are beginning to fail them for fear. Civilizations and economies rise and fall. There is no reason at all to think that the United States is immune to collapse. Why should people not be concerned? When people are losing their homes and their jobs, and their family structure is falling apart, as one fourth of the country is made to be dependent on the government for "entitlements," mankind needs a source of strength more than ever. A lighthouse never shines brighter than in a storm.
The only resource rural and urban churches might need is a new pack of light bulbs.