30 November 2017

Herald Press Blog Tour God's Country: Faith, Hope, and the Future of the Rural Church by Brad Roth

God's Country: Faith, Hope, and the Future of the Rural Church 
by Brad Roth. 


Rural places are often seen as insular and declining, all pickup trucks and gas stations with no gas. Another popular vision of rural life is more nostalgic: amber waves of grain, quaint streets, and the idyllic family farm.

Neither story meets rural communities and congregations on their own terms, writes Brad Roth in his new book, God’s Country: Faith, Hope, and the Future of the Rural Church (Herald Press, September 2017). In an era in which many are prescribing solutions to rural dilemmas, Roth writes, “We need a new approach, one that sees rural communities not as places to pity or lionize but simply as places, places open to God’s goodness and in need of God’s grace.”

Addressing issues such as population shifts, economics, and value systems, Roth takes a comprehensive look at issues facing the rural church today. He then offers a theological and practical alternative to church growth strategies, which are frequently imported from suburban and urban congregations and which rely on success stories and flashy metrics.

Calling leaders, pastors, and outsiders to “love the church as we discover it while still dreaming of where God is leading us,” Roth outlines a vision for vibrant rural churches that includes disciplines such as praising, abiding, watching, praying, growing, and befriending. “The rural church represents Christ’s commitment to be among all people everywhere, regardless of the value attributed to them by global centers of power,” he writes.

“This is a book I will assign to divinity students and to a prominent position on my shelf,” says Leonard Sweet in the book’s foreword. “Brad Roth tells stories that will linger in my mind and imagination and shape how I think about the future of all churches.”


Bradley Roth serves as pastor at West Zion Mennonite Church in Moundridge, Kansas. He grew up baling hay, tending sheep, and shearing Christmas trees on a farm in Illinois. He is a graduate of Augustana College, Harvard Divinity School, and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. Brad has a heart for serving God and God’s people in rural communities. He’s passionate about sharing faith in word and deed and living out God’s love in the community. He and his wife, Lici, enjoy bicycling, tending a garden, keeping chickens, and playing with their two sons.

$16.99 USD
5.5 x 8.5 in. paperback
ISBN 978-1-5138-0161-2
eBook  $13.99 │ 978-1-5138-0240-4

Release date: September 19, 2017 

Available from Herald PressAmazon, and your favorite bookseller.


rosie said...

This sounds very interesting though I note the author is not referring to Australia. Being part of a rapidly dwindling and ageing rural congregation in australia, I am interested how others see us.

Jenny Blake said...

Hi Rosie, you are right this author is American from a Mennonite Church. But I think many of the things he mentions are true here in Australia in the country towns and rural communities. I know our church is an ageing congregation with very few under 50. We use to have an active Sunday School and Youth Group but the youth grow up and go away to uni and my do don't come back home. Also some of the smaller churches with few children will often go to a church with other children. That is what has happened in our case.

rosie said...

Thanks for your quick response. I would like to kjow how other areas manage. I guess after being at church yesterday with our regular 30 odd people, it struck a chord. We have no one under 50 and our town is dmall, about 1200 population.
Maybe I should start a blog for like minded congregations?☺ We are 300 kms fr pool m the city.

Jenny Blake said...

wow that's smaller than our town. our congregation is around 30 - 40 but the town is around 5,000. We do have 7 churches. We are just over 300 kms from our city also. We do however have 2 churches that have a lot of younger families. Its hard to know what is best. A blog may work. may give others in the same situation a place to bounce of ideas etc.

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