Great Books for Small Town Pastors

Ministry in small towns and cities is tough. The issues that rural America face are very similar to inner city problems:  job loss, population loss, drug use, and lack of opportunities.  As a pastor, I’ve realized that almost all conferences, magazines, and resources seem geared toward large megachurches in large suburban areas. But the reality is most churches are under 200 people in attendance, and that doesn’t mean that they aren’t effective.

A couple of years ago, God gave me an idea to write a book about small town ministry.  I’ve started working on it, and I am now working on a proposal.  I’ve been researching and reading books about ministry in small towns, so I wanted to share a few that I have found helpful.

If you are a small-town pastor, please don’t feel discouraged. The impact that you can have on your community is enormous. Don’t base your success on comparisons to the latest and greatest megachurch, but instead, base your success on your faithfulness to reaching and serving your community.

Small Town Jesus: Taking the gospel mission seriously in seemingly unimportant places

This is a great book that has a lot of practical information to help small town pastors understand how to reach their communities. The first section lays out the Biblical reasons on why we cannot and should not neglect reaching small towns for Jesus, and the second section gives you the practical advice on how you can be more effective. Click here to view on Amazon

Small towns are big mission fields that are almost totally neglected by modern church planters. City ministry has become, for many, the definition of godly ministry. But what about the millions of people around the world who live in small towns?


The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking that Divides Us

If you are struggling with comparing yourself to larger pastors and churches, this is the book for you. Click here to view on Amazon

90% of the churches in the world have less than 200 people. What if that’s not a bad thing? What if smallness is an advantage God wants us to use, not a problem to fix? In The Grasshopper Myth, Karl Vaters takes on some of the unbiblical beliefs we’ve held about church growth, church size and God’s will for the last several decades. Then he offers a game plan for a New Small Church.


Transforming Church in Rural America

This is a great book about how a small church in Arkansas used technology to extend their reach in rural areas. Click here to view on Amazon

Small church buildings dotting the countryside are home to ministries that often struggle with limited attendance, no money, and little expectation that change can revitalize their future. In Transforming Church in Rural America, Pastor Shannon O’Dell shares a powerful vision of relevance, possibility, and excellence for these small churches.


Small Town Mission: A Guide for Mission-Driven Communities

This is another good book, although I would say that it is geared towards lay people more than pastors. It gives good practical advice on how you can reach communities for Christ through relational evangelism. Click here to view on Amazon

Small Town Mission is a practical guide for gospel-centered mission in small towns. If you haven’t noticed, people who live in small towns have limited options for restaurants, shopping, and books about mission. Small towns desperately need normal, everyday people like farmers, factory workers, teachers, secretaries, and small business owners who think and act like missionaries to reach their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and extended families for Christ.

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I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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