Are We Rural or Urban?

“Jeff’s opinion as to why rural emerging churches aren’t at the forefront of the conversation is because “churches in smaller areas are engaging their communities in ways other than plugging into the local arts hotspots,” and therefore, they “aren’t getting the same recognition or coverage.”” A rural emerger in Ohio, Emerging Rural.

The good folk at Emerging Rural [not a slam on rural people, I meant “folk” in a friendly people kinda way, not a Dukes-of-Hazzard yee-haa cousin-marrying mullet-wearing kinda way . . . God forbid that I allow negative stereotypes on this blog! and anyway, its just Luke Geraty and not a bunch of hillbillies.] were thinking I might start up something like this but then I am still figuring out if I am rural or urban.

Most places in which I am involved around the world with our mission are urban settings. Some very urban. But I live in the Orkney Islands with a population of only 20,000 and therefore rural, I suppose.

Sometimes I feel quite rural . . .

Andrewandelizhoy-1-1

. . . like when i take a nice leisurely walk along the sea cliffs.

But there are other moments . . . like yesterday . . .

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. . . when a busker sang outside our rented flat above the post office,

. . . when I parked the car a gazillion miles away because there is no parking WHATSOEVER,

. . . when i risked my life by stepping foot outside our front door onto the MAIN FRIGGIN’ ROAD OF STROMNESS!

. . . at times like these I feel quite . . . well . . urban.

Maybe not big-city urban but certainly not cul-de-sac suburban. People in the suburbs have garages for their cars. So do rural people.

What the heck are we?

And as for arts hotspots, the award winning Pier Arts Centre is right across the road and there are 3 pubs within stone’s throw. One of those pubs is only 2 doors down from us and sometimes when it closes, we end up with other kinds of buskers in the middle of the night, singing loudly outside our window, although no one would ever pay to hear them sing.

Still, Jeff’s question is a good one and I hope rural emergers will stay connected to their excellent blog, Emerging Rural.

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Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

19 Comments

  • I can identify with this, I live in a town of only 16000 but it’s a bedroom community serving the nearby mines, with not many of the activities that usually come with rural culture. Ironically a few years ago I lived in a larger town of 50000 that was clearly rural. Both towns however have a strong working man feel and it’s clear incarnation in that context is not art galleries and mural projects.

  • the wife and I (with the addition of a few friends) are seriously thinking about moving to rural east texas in a few years. I have had this conversation with many people. I agree, especially in our time, it’s not that hard to have your feet in both camps.

  • Whoa! Andrew, thanks for the plug!
    I pastor in a small community – less than 2,000. There are about three communities that are about this same size around us, so total group of people is still under 10,000. For several years I’ve been interested in the methodology within a rural context, and I’ve got to tell ya, it’s quite interesting because the conversation has been quiet whispers that a lot of people are trying to listen too!
    As Ben notes, our community is strong working class that’s a post-farm community (yeah, I got to use the word “post”). Most guys like to drink beer and cut wood down and kill deer. If they aren’t doing those three things, than they are watching the Green Bay Packers or MN Vikings.
    How do you express God’s heart to people in this setting? It is definitely not the same as in the cities… yet. However, I sense that this will change in about three years… heck, we just got the Internet! 🙂

  • Well in Julian where i am…. i’m out here a bit… i tell people to drive down alamance road till your board and see cows…..- but the emergent folk i’m hooked in with are in greensboro and winston so it’s usually abut 30 to45 min drive…
    when we move to the austin area, my hubby hates big cities… so we’ll live on the out skirts… just so he doesn’t feel so overwhelmed…..
    but rural is hard for me – since i grew up in Jersey and was 20 min from NYC….
    so i’ve seen both….——- dunno…. both can be hard… and have the shadows …
    anyhoo
    xo luv ya… send kisses all around and tell Debbie…. at one point she’s gonna be getting a long email from me (i know it’s about time!)
    K8

  • An additional thought, in Australia we often talk about rural and regional areas, rural meaning ‘agriculture dominated towns’ and regional meaning ‘small but suburban’ or ‘town that is not Sydney’. I guess this is sort of the situation you describe.

  • I have walked your street Andrew, and was surprised just how populated Orkney is, after the wilderness of north (particularly north west) Scotland.
    I would propose another category of “small or isolated communities”. You could say iso-emergent!
    It is an interesting place to be, with some good bits- small communities have lots of benefits like knowing your neighbours, safe streets, etc, but can also be like goldfish bowls that leave people feeling exposed and examined.
    We have talked a lot in our group about how we respond to our CONTEXT- this is one of our emergenty by-words right?
    For us, this has been to make contact with others who ar eon a similar path when we can, but also to try to serve others here. This can be tough. There is little room in small towns for another small group of Christians who think they have a monopoly on truth and religious expression. There are enough of those already!
    I think they still burn heretics in my part of Scotland- how about yours?
    Chris

  • I have walked your street Andrew, and was surprised just how populated Orkney is, after the wilderness of north (particularly north west) Scotland.
    I would propose another category of “small or isolated communities”. You could say iso-emergent!
    It is an interesting place to be, with some good bits- small communities have lots of benefits like knowing your neighbours, safe streets, etc, but can also be like goldfish bowls that leave people feeling exposed and examined.
    We have talked a lot in our group about how we respond to our CONTEXT- this is one of our emergenty by-words right?
    For us, this has been to make contact with others who ar eon a similar path when we can, but also to try to serve others here. This can be tough. There is little room in small towns for another small group of Christians who think they have a monopoly on truth and religious expression. There are enough of those already!
    I think they still burn heretics in my part of Scotland- how about yours?
    Chris

  • Wow …. I REALLY like this…. emerging rural… I have often pondered this… it used to make me a little sad that the rural or backwoods folk did not have a voice in all of this emerging schtuff…. The two have alot to give one another…. and we also live very rural…. good to read other peoples thoughts on the matter!!!
    Love you
    Whitney

  • speaking of backwoods . . . hi whitney . . who lives with her family in a hut on an island in the Pugent Sound . .
    you’ll got electricity there yet?

  • I’m in a town of 1000. Another of our local pastors pointed out that some emergent people stopped by, but they didn’t like the coffee so they moved on.
    That is an amazing picture.

  • Emergent people are SUCH COFFEE SNOBS.
    Whats wrong with an occasional over-brewed Folgers in a stryo cup every once in a while for the sake of Jesus . . . huh?

  • i saw your pic on the sea cliffs. speachless. and i saw the pub is right down the street.
    question…can my wife and our 11 week old come visit for a few days?

  • anthropologically speaking, i am sure there are appropriate categories for:
    * “rurbal”
    * “suprurban”
    * “urbane”
    perhaps these will be of use in your taxonomic endeavors?!
    p.s. it’s still April Fool’s Day here in California…

  • I am writing a paper on needing emerging practices in a rural community. I would like to know if there is anyone really doing it and if not, why not???

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