Rural Shepherdology was invaluable to me because Jerry is invaluable. He is not a "leader" trying to "dialog" with you about the latest paradigm; he's not selling a system. Jerry is a real pastor with experiences, scars, and earned wisdom. His genuine love for ministry and pastors continually beams through his enthusiasm and joy. His coaching is relatable and doable. I can confidently say that the only limitation on the effectiveness of Rural Shepherdology were my own. I highly recommend Rural Shepherdology for anyone who has even just a little time and a strong desire to grow as a pastor. It will bless you so you can more effectively bless your people.
About 2 months prior to the start of the cohort I moved from a large city in California to rural Michigan. Rural Shepherology has allowed me to avoid some significant potential potholes that could have derailed the ministry, guided me toward flourishing as a person and a pastor, and provided an opportunity to learn and wrestle with the unique challenges of pastoring a rural church with a cohort of other pastors. Whether you have been serving in a rural church for ten minutes or ten years, the investment of your time and resources in joining a Rural Sherherology cohort will be worth every minute of your time. I am so thankful for Jerry’s encouragement, training, wisdom,and partnership in the Gospel. I would encourage you to join a group and experience the fellowship, training, and mentorship Jerry brings to each session.
Rural Shepherdology has been a great blessing to this pastor. Not only do I pastor a rural church but I am also bi-vocational, so I feel I need this group more than most. Pastor Jerry with his many years of pastoral experience understands not only the pastorate, but people. I am thankful for RS, as it is my small group where I can be free to express my own thoughts, gain wisdom, vent my frustrations from time to time and meet with pastors that want to reach people with the love of Christ.
I came away from the Rural Shepherdology course with Jerry more encouraged and equipped for pastoring in the rural small church setting than I expected. Jerry brings his experience and in-valuable resources in the form of articles and books to help pastors, not just in the moment, but to serve as great resources moving forward in this ministry context.
One of the big take-home points for me was to practice "expectation management", especially in the rural farming community I serve in. The expectations as related to church growth and ministry in general are very different from the urban, big-city setting I came from in Anchorage, AK. Jerry mentored our group through what it looks like to prioritize our relationships in the church over programs and "five-year plans". Growth begins and ends in the hearts of the pastor and their congregants, no matter the numbers sitting in the pews each Sunday morning.
I highly recommend this course for any pastor serving in a rural community!
“The biggest take away for me and my time with Rural Shepherdology is that both “Vision” and “Relationships” are essential for leading change in a rural church. Vision and strategy seem to come natural to how God has wired and gifted me. I have seen the need to deepen relationships, to include others in navigating and implementing changes, and to be willing to slow down in order to preserve and value relationships with the people of my church. During this year of Rural Shepherdology we were able to navigate a number of changes including the change of one of our services from Saturday evening to Sunday evenings while building trust and deepening relationships.”
I would highly recommend Rural Shepherdology to any minister in a rural setting. I had served in youth ministry for 20 years, all in a rural area, and when I moved into my first lead pastor role, I was a little overwhelmed. Jerry and Rural Shepherdology help me to prioritize my time and set reasonable goals. The wisdom form Jerry and my other cohort members was deeply beneficial. The camaraderie that formed through the cohort made the monthly meeting something to look forward to and not just another calendar item. Rural ministry is a special calling and one that does not have an abundance of trains. Rural Shepherdology fills that gap and prepare you to lead well in the often ignored rural context of ministry.
I met Jerry back in 2020 after becoming a first time lead pastor. After being a youth and associate pastor for nearly 20 years I found myself as a lead pastor in a new type of community. I was always a part of a larger city context, and I found myself pastoring a rural church community. I did not realize how much I didn’t know about being a pastor, but especially about serving a rural community. This is why I have found coaching to be invaluable. You never know what you don’t know, until someone tells you. Jerry has been impactful in helping me understand some of the cultural differences that you will encounter in a smaller/rural church. These cultural differences have been important for me to be able transition as a pastor, and to be able to avoid many pitfalls that others have made before me.