Love For The Delta

Joe Thorn over at his blog, http://www.joethorn.net, had this to say about the suburbs.

I have said all this before, but it bears repeating: I both love and hate the suburbs – and I think this is healthy and necessary. Finding stuff to love and embrace in one’s culture can be difficult, at least for some. Some are so focused on the present evil and corruption that any good has been pushed beyond their peripheral vision. On the other hand some are so in love with (idolize) their culture they ignore all that is wrong with it.

Right now it’s cool to love the city and loathe the suburbs, but I do not believe this reflects the heart of God. I believe God has a love/hate relationship with this culture. My culture. And I’m working hard to maintain that balance in my own heart. (originally posted at sub•text)

Here in the Delta there is a different paradigm. People love the suburbs and hate the delta or rural areas in the south. The suburbs have the nice large churches and the delta has shrinking congregations. The people who live in the delta want to live in the suburbs and if they can’t they live as if they are in the suburbs. They have the same cars, clothes, and attitudes of the suburbs. Are the suburbs bad to minister in? No. But where are the ministers and church planters in the delta? These men drive right through these towns in the delta to go to the churches in the suburbs. I hear the cries for church planters to go back to the city and I see in the suburbs church plants popping up every other week. Listen for the cries for the delta and you will hear nothing, but the sound of  hopeless desperation.

Is the gospel geographically sensitive? Will the gospel work only in the suburbs and in the inner cities? I have nothing against the suburbs or the ministers that work there. In my State Convention there is little or no talk of the delta in the context of church planting. I know that the delta is tough, but so is the gospel. The only churches being planted in the delta are neo-pentecostal congregations. Southern Baptist are slowly fading away in the delta. In my association there are churches that have less than twenty people. As Joe said, there are things I love and hate about the delta. I see and hear every day the looks and sighs of hopelessness in my community. Our theology does not line up with our actions. For God’s Spirit can work here and build healthy churches. May God Bring Revival.

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11 thoughts on “Love For The Delta

  1. mingo says:

    Good post, James. I think that it is not just the Delta, but living in Canton I definitely know what you mean. I think that this has affected small towns and rural America and Mississippi is no different. When I chose to move my family to Canton most people said, “Why?!” Churches in Canton are in decline for the most part and there is no prospect of new ones in the near future. No one is moving into the small towns except for those that we deem to be “undesirables.”

    Small towns and small town churches need to shoulder much of this blame. However, since you used Joe Thorn I do want to point this out. In Thorn’s blog I made a comment one of the many articles that try to bring culture to the suburbs. You can read it here: http://thesubtext.org/2008/08/15/tim-chester-on-suburbia/ Sorry for the sarcasm. I like reading Thorn and McCoy but I apparently had enough.

    What suburbia wants to “create” the small towns already have. However, what comes with it is blight, poor schools, no tax base, and nominal crime suburbia wants nothing to do with. Suburbia gets to have the Disnesque small town without much reality mixed in.

    Thank you for adding the missing part of the equation that needs to be talked about. Suburbia didn’t just kill the city. The small towns have suffered too.

    Maybe later we can talk about what small town churches need to do to combat the rising trends that you have pointed out. It is definitely a love/hate relationship.

  2. all4hisrenown says:

    When Traci and I told people about coming to Pickens you should have seen the reactions we received in response. My reasoning was that they need a pastor too. If we are truly reformed in our theology, then we can minister anywhere and be successful, for the gospel is effective. I wish there was more dialogue about this in the SBC in Mississippi, but until then, keep praying.

  3. mingo says:

    I have a whole lot of ideas why churches in small towns are not successful, but then I realized that they would be unsuccessful almost anywhere. As I commented in your FB page, most will probably go the way of Vineville Pres. http://www.macon.com/198/story/718383.html, which might not be bad depending on if they constitute as a new church.

  4. all4hisrenown says:

    The lack of concern is the most troublesome for me. Yes, churches in the delta are not the greatest, they are usually small, family run, and apathetic. Again, our theology says that can be remedied through a steady diet of Biblical Preaching. Now, some of these churches need to close their doors for good. They are serving no purpose, whatsoever. I guess I’m trying to say that it would be nice for churches and our convention to make some effort to reach the delta and surrounding small towns.

  5. mingo says:

    I agree on both of your points. I think that we have proven that you can plant a church in an affluent wealthy neighborhood. I too wish that there was more support for planting churches in the neighborhoods that are poor and forsaken.

  6. Phillip Slaughter says:

    Good stuff… We’re living this.

    • all4hisrenown says:

      First, thanks for stopping by Phillip. Yes, we are definitely living this and I hope that people will become more concerned for the Delta.

  7. mingo says:

    I think that one of the things that hit me recently on how bad it really is was when my suburbanite church did a one day mercy ministry trip to my town of Canton. We worked through MadCAAP http://madcaap.org/ and we did not have enough supplies to reside the little house we were working on. We had tear off the worst of the masonite siding and leave the rest, which should have been torn off too. When I was working on similar mission trips to the Gulf Coast this would have never happened. We would have ripped everything down, Tyveked the house, and resided the house with Hardy Board. It was very depressing.

  8. all4hisrenown says:

    You are definitely right, that would not happen on the coast. The one bright thing I am seeing now in the Delta is that God is bring young men in this area to minister. Men who have a passion for God and His glory, not money or prestige. I can name six young men right now that are 35 and under. These guys have grave concern for the souls of this area. I pray that God will continue this work. The guy who commented above you Mingo is one of those guys. His name is Phillip Slaughter and he has the biggest heart for the lost and God is doing great things through him.

  9. mingo says:

    I am noticing this too, and not only the Delta. The Hills of MS are beginning to have some new blood as well. Speaking of which, we need to have a MS Founders meeting soon. Maybe we can talk about this and other issues since the MS Baptist might not have this on their radar. What do you think?

  10. all4hisrenown says:

    I was thinking the same thing. I would love to sit and talk about these issues. I’m excited about what God is doing. Have you guys had Deep South Founders meeting? Just wondering what part of the decrees I have to speak on? Plan a day and I will be there.

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