In 1991, I had a lot to learn about this, when I began responding to a call to begin ministering in three remote logging and mining towns, on the Oregon/California border.  These three communities, because of their remote location, and the high snow covered passes, were even without any electricity.  In fact, each community was close to an hour from the nearest town with electrical power.  Plus each of these three communities were separated from each other, by approximately 16 miles of one-lane cliff-edge road.  Each 16 mile stretch took about 45 minutes to drive.  It was slow going.  The community where I moved my family to, had 54 people at the time.  The other two communities had populations of about 65 – 75 people each.  I can tell you, that as a young pastor, I really struggled with the thought that pastoring in these three small towns, was not going to be enough of a challenge.  Or simply not very fulfilling.  I really had the people on my heart, but there were so many who were advising us to go to a place where our time would not be wasted on such a small number of people.  They would say, "Go where you can make a difference."  But, I knew that God had each of these three towns on His heart.  Plus there wasn’t a Christian church gathering anywhere in the region.

    It was during this time that Matthew 18:12, became alive to me.  It says, “What man wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine, to go into the mountains in search of the one that is straying.”  At the time we arrived, there was only a slight handful of people who even wanted us to be there.  But we purposed in our hearts to be present and available, visiting people, assisting people in what ever was happening in their lives, regardless of their response to us.  But in 1994, we still had not seen much change.  Between the three communities, we only had about 10 people coming to the church services, and this was in only one of the towns.  And 4 of those were my wife and I, and our two kids!  I was discouraged, and wondering if we would ever see fruit from what we were doing. 

    Then one day, while we as a family were on our monthly grocery run, I bought a book entitled “The Heart Of A Great Pastor, by H. B. London & Neil B. Wiseman”.  In that book he quotes a missionary pastor who said, “We went to people who did not want us, and stayed until they could not get along without us."  Something just clicked in me.  I saw that I had been measuring what was being accomplished, by how many people were attending church; and that I had been missing what the Lord was doing in the communities as a whole.  On that day, I began to have a new freedom to enjoy the success that couldn't be seen.  The evidence only being in loving relationships with people throughout our area.  Serving there became extremely fulfilling!  And by the way, over the following 6 years, we saw many come to Christ.

    Success isn't measured by how many you have responding to your ministry.  Success is being Obedient & Faithful to your call, and going to the people that God has trusted you enough to send you to!

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There are Many Rural Pastors Serving a "Circuit" in Multiple Communities

    Some ministries put an emphasis on how large their attendance has grown to be in their regular worship services, and strive to present their growth strategies as a model for success.  Other ministries are focused on "Simple Church" methods, "Disciple Making Movements", or "House Church" models, with in context of daily life patterns being their focus for success.  All of these have value in the proper and appropriate situations and cultural context.  Whether you are listening to leaders talk about large mass gatherings or small intimate gatherings of believers, most of the time their focus for outreach is where there are large populations of people.  This is not a problem either.  The problem is that there are thousands of little towns and villages with very small populations, where a local church once thrived, but nowadays there is no Christian ministry at all.

    The towns represented in the pictures below, had populations of 50, or 60 people.  But does this mean that there really wasn't a need?  It is the Lord's heart to have a local gathering of believers, an opportunity for discipleship, within reach of every community.

  • A 100 Mile Round-trip Circuit

    1991 to 2000

  • The old homeplace - Our home

  • Wanting to make a difference & 27 years old in 1991

  • The old schoolhouse

    & Community Club

  • Easter Sunday

  • A stop along the route on the summit of one of the passes

  • the Old 1855 catholic church

  • the 1st easter gathering

    in many years!

  • Traveling mostly at 35 mph



  • Easter Sunday

  • along the road back home