Who is the target group of your church and what do they value? At their core, these are questions that missional pastors ask. Just as the Apostle Paul understood the values of the Greek leaders in Athens (Acts 17:22-24), and addressed Jewish leaders with an intricate knowledge of cultural norms (Acts 21:27-22:2), so pastors in urban, rural, and small-town settings must take time to learn the values of their communities. Within these values lies the cultural understanding of how to effectively communicate Christ to the people in your community. This Biblical principle has also become an important piece of the broader leadership and business genres of literature. Even Peter Drucker, in his book The Five Most Important Questions, states that questions two and three are, “Who is your customer?” and “What does your customer value?”
At the end of the book of Acts, we see an amazing statement made by the Apostle Paul. It’s amazing because at the beginning of the book of Acts, it was inconceivable that God would reach out to the non-Jewish world. Throughout the book of Acts, the concept of God’s grace being offered to these Gentiles was hotly debated. Even still, Luke is found to have recorded Paul’s vast efforts to understand the Gentile culture and to effectively communicate Christ to the non-Jewish world. In the end, Paul’s powerful conclusion is recorded to be, “Therefore, let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” (Acts 28:28 ESV, emphasis added)
With over 25 years of fruitful small-town ministry at Sun Prairie Baptist Church, Pastor Mark Dickson has found that people “will listen.” However, before Mark began to effectively communicate with the people God had called him to, he had to first listen and learn the culture of the Salem, South Dakota region. Admittedly, he’d claim that he is still listening and learning! After many years of serving as a rural church solo pastor, Mark has gleaned many insights into the values held by small-town congregations.
Watch as Mark unpacks five of those values in an interview with Converge Heartland District Executive Minister, Jim Capaldo.
Pastor Mark Dickson has served at Sun Prairie for the past 25 years with his wife Dee. He grew up in Michigan where he received a bachelors degree from Calvin College. He obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Bethel Seminary in St. Paul. Get in touch with Mark at email@example.com.