Podcast Episode 024, 50 min
Rural Church Rescue, with Jon Sanders (Ep. 24)

I read the whole thing just a couple of days after you gave me and then thought, okay, we’ve got to have John on because I got to talk about… What I want to do is I want to take a handful of bullet points that you mentioned in here because it's so helpful if you're pastoring a rural church, if you're pastoring a small church in a suburban or urban setting, if you oversee other churches. If you're in church leadership in any way, don't think you have to be in a rural setting for this to be a value to, there's so much in it, and there's just a bunch of points.

So what I'd like to do is I want to walk through the book and kind of look at some of these points that you make, some of which people are going to go, Whoa, I can't believe we went there. Which is what I love about it. And then unpack some of it for us.

And it'll give people a sense of what the book is about, but also a sense of what they can do in their congregation, and some of the lessons they can learn. It starts with your story. You were a firefighter, right? How did you get from firefighter to what you’re doing today?

Jon Sanders: Well, the simple answer, I just blame God for that whole thing.

You know, I grew up in pastoral ministry. My dad was a pastor and I loved the experience, loved the church. But when I was in high school, I really started to think that it would be an awesome gig to be a firefighter, and so I pursued that even though in the back of my mind, I had this inkling that if I surrendered, God would probably use me in some form of, you know, pastoral ministry.

And so to be honest, I was really running from what I sensed was that calling and God was gracious and faithful. He let me have what I thought I wanted and it was awesome. I loved being a firefighter, but that calling never really left. It just continued to, you know, faithfully pursue me in my quiet moments.

And so I finally came to a point of surrender at a fairly young age. I think I was 23 years old, just a few years into my career as a firefighter. I just said, God, if you want me in ministry - believe me, I had a list of reasons why I thought God was making a big mistake - but I said, I'll go if you want me to go. And what God really got through to me in that moment was, Jon, I don't need you to bring anything to the table, I'm not looking for a pedigree, I just am looking for obedience, and where I find a yielded, surrendered heart, I can show the world what's possible with a supernatural God and a yielded servant. So are you willing to obey? That's really all I'm asking, Jon.

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March 9, 2022

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