If you’re the pastor of a church in a small rural town, hang on—it might be getting ready to boom.

I was just reading an issue of Forbes, and there’s an article about a book by Jack Schultz called Boomtown USA. The book examines an emerging trend: “Americans, he says, are moving to small towns for quality-of-life issues. These are educated and entrepreneurial people, says Schultz, and they are reinvigorating America’s boondocks.”

Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard points out that one-third of the jobs created between 2001 and 2004 were created in 397 rural counties averaging 40,000 in population. That’s a third of all new jobs—equal to the population of the state of Florida—created in areas representing just 5 percent of the U.S. population.

Not all small towns will see such growth, of course, perhaps a third, Schultz believes. He calls them agurbs—prospering rural towns with a tie to agriculture and a location outside a metro region.

What will it mean for churches in those agurb communities? It means they will need to be flexible in order to respond to the people moving into their areas—or create new congregations that can meet those needs. Either way, it’s time to get ready.

Michael Duduit

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