One of my favorite movies of all time is Tombstone. In my favorite scene, Doc Holliday goes to fight Johnny Ringo and a startled Ringo says, “I didn’t think you had it in you!” Then, Doc Holliday famously replies, “I’m your huckleberry.” The saying is slang for, “I’m the man you’re looking for.”
Here at smalltownjesus.com we are sounding the call for men to take the gospel to seemingly forgotten places. As we do so, I think it’s important to share what type of huckleberry it takes. Below I’ve identified four traits that I look for in a small-town planter or revitalizer. Donnie has identified similar traits in another blog post for raising leaders in your church if you are already established. Please check that post out as well. The traits below are specific to the initial planter or revitalizer.
What type of man does it take to plant and revitalize churches in a small town?
The Type of Pastor a Small-Town Church Needs
- A gospeled man – the lost in our small-towns are tired of dead religion. We need pastors that understand the grace of God in Jesus Christ. If you haven’t been captured by God’s passion for the over-looked; you won’t last. If you haven’t been gripped by the gospel, you will end up adding more confusion about faith in our communities. We need gospel saturated, bible-loving, men. This trait should be recognized by a group of local elders in a local church context.
- A local man – you must get involved in real community. Blog posts and status updates don’t count. We need pastors that are committed to being involved in community and can model to others how to live as good locals. This will be recognized by your small town and by your congregation.
- A committed man – you are going to have to plow straight rows in over-worked fields for a long time. It took me eight years to get some of my closest friends from high school to even check out our church gathering. Eight flipping years! Most people in small towns are friendly, but they already have friends and don’t necessarily consider that they may need new ones. Most people have been to a church or have family that attend and don’t necessarily see the need for a new or revitalized one. You are going to have to be committed to long-obedience-in-the-same-direction for the long-haul to impact us.
- A settled man – this one is hard for type-a church planters and revitalizers. I’m not saying lose your ambition or lose your drive. Please don’t get comfortable. We don’t need that. I’m not saying that. Here is what I’m saying. We need a man that’s settled in his identity in Christ. Settled.
I’m a small-town boy who grew up in small-town churches, so I feel very comfortable sharing what I’m about to share next. Small town people don’t want a pastor who is going to use them to look better to others and work his way up the chain of success. If they get that man, when a shiny opportunity arises they know he’s going to leave them. If they get that man, they know when he raises up disciples he’s never going to be willing to send them off because he’s building his own little empire rather than the kingdom of God.
If we don’t get settled pastors and planters, who are willing to live and disciple and never make the headlines, you know what we are going to get? We are going to get the mining companies that originally built my small-town. After they used up our resources to profit themselves, they left us worn down, stretched thin, and stripped of past beauty. We need settled pastors willing to rebuild, renew, and restore us because Jesus has rebuilt, renewed, and restored them. A settled pastor knows that having Jesus is enough for them. Jesus is enough; and they know it.
So, do you have it in you? Can you say, “I’m Your Huckleberry!”? If so, we would like to start praying for you. Please leave us a comment or contact us via the blog. Then, keep checking back for on-going resources for pastors and planters in small towns. We aim to develop more and more resources for guys like you.