As a missionary, we are supported by the Lord’s provision through others. The majority of our support (not just financial, but prayer and encouragement) comes from rural churches whose Sunday attendance is less than 75. During our time of deputation we began to recognize the neglect of rural ministry as part of the Great Commission. Few want to go, few see the need, and few recognize the importance of rural ministry.
Glenn Daman understands it. First, as a child who grew up in rural ministry and now having been a pastor in rural ministry for many years, Daman is uniquely equipped to draw attention to this important sect of ministry. While not negating the necessity of the urban church, the author’s experience allows him to write an assessment in order to help the church “understand the importance of and need for rural ministry, as well as identify the ways that rural and urban churches can partner together to mutually encourage and strengthen the larger body” (pg. 18). Such a descriptive goal seems unattainable, and yet the author has done just that. He begins with the proposition that the rural church is not merely forgotten, but misunderstood, a point that is validated by his demonstration about society’s confusion in defining what rural is. The majority of the book covers a theology of the rural church, serving readers a description of historical perspectives and modern complications of rural ministry. Finally, he ends with chapters that establish the rural parts of our country as a mission field and summons for the partnership of individuals and churches in order to reach the forgotten roads of ministry.
At times readers may be conflicted thinking that the author is proposing two different views. Early on he announces the great need that exists in rural ministry. Yet, later on, he seems to indicate that rural people are more God-oriented through the morals they may convey. A note of caution to readers is warranted: read further, because they will see the author is not saying this at all.
Notably, in no way has the author renounced the need for urban ministry. In fact, he not only affirms it as a requirement for obedience to God’s call but proposes that they can – and should – have a role in rural ministry. Daman has suggested that there is a way in which both rural and urban ministries can work together for strategic partnerships and The Forgotten Church is a practical book for bringing believers together through this specialized ministry. Such a proposition should be greeted with an endorsement for denying segregation in a time when society is on the verge of segregating itself from one another (considering we are more connected by technology but have less interaction with one another).
One must recognize the level work that the author must have put into this book. In some ways, it can be said that it took him a lifetime to write because so much of his personal experiences are woven into the examples. However, the author does not merely write an autobiography. Each example serves as a witness to verify the precision of research the author has done and shared in the book. The time and energy that was put into the preparation of this book should be acknowledged and highly valued by readers.
I was pleasantly surprised by the thoughtfulness of this book. Some of the godliest people I know, as well as some of the best teachers and preachers I have ever met are little known because they are in rural ministry. I am thankful that someone has written a book that recognizes their contribution to God’s mission and glory while also calling attention to an overlooked need for in our ministry to others. This is an important book and makes an important contribution to ministry dialogue.
To purchase a copy of The Forgotten Church, click here.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the publisher, author, or anyone else associated with this book, but is the result of my own reading of it.
Disclosure: Dr. Glenn Daman and I are part of an organization together and therefore have interacted at conferences and events. He would not know who I am and my review of the book was not influenced by that, but I find it important for the purposes of integrity to be clear in my disclosure.