Pick up any CRCNA Yearbook and leaf through the directory of churches and ministries to study where our denomination has gone. Among the many familiar names you’ll also find names like Terra Ceia, Teecnospos, Tracy, Woden, Prairie View, Ellsworth, Austinville and more that are unknown to most of us. Historically, we know how congregations got planted in such places. But the question arises, “Would Jesus today go to minister in such out-of-the-way places?” If not, wouldn’t we be better off just closing down all those tiny churches like other denominations are doing?
A close study of the N.T. supplies us with more than just a hint as to what Jesus did and what He would likely do today. A good place to begin is Matt. 9:35 where we read,
“And Jesus was going about all the cities/ towns and the villages teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.”
The word for “cities, towns” is the Greek word “polis” and it almost always meant a smaller town of 5-10 acres in size usually with a wall around it having a population of 2,000 to 10,000. The second word used in this verse, “villages /country towns /hamlets /the rural areas” (we’d refer to them as “crossroads” today) is the word “kome.” It’s a country hamlet of 0-5 acres with no more than 150 people living there. Another example is in Mark 1:38 where we find the two words joined together:
“Let us go into the neighboring country towns/let us go somewhere else to the towns/rural areas nearby.” NASV
When one follows the ministry of our Lord some amazing facts are revealed:
- Christ grew up in a town of no more than 500.
- Only 8 times in His life did Jesus visit Jerusalem and each time was to celebrate and not to preach.
- The Gospels record Christ visiting small towns and hamlets while doing ministry 8 dozen times.
- There were major metro areas in Jesus' day such as Jerusalem, Samaria and Damascus but, except for the first two, He never went there.
The point that we can say with certainty is that if Jesus came back to earth today, He would indeed be back in the countryside areas of our land. That is not to say that He would teach us to neglect our metropolitan cities, for the call of His saving grace must go to all without exception. It is simply to observe where He ministered while here. In the good providence of God, Paul was the first great missionary to the cities of the world. The organized church has followed the example of Paul rather well with reaching the cities, but not the model of Jesus reaching out to the countryside.
To all my dear brothers and sisters in ministry out in the countryside, you are walking today where Jesus walked while He was among us fallen sinners!