Is Pastoring in the Mountain West different from the Rest of the Country?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Hardsheller, Jun 10, 2003.

  1. Hardsheller

    Hardsheller
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    The question has come up and a couple of us with Mountain West experience believe that Baptist Ministry in the Mountain West is different from Back East or Down South Baptist work.

    The following are some observations.

    1. Baptists are a Minority Group and some Preachers can't seem to understand that there is no significant Baptist Culture. What may work in Georgia may seem strange and out of place in the mountains.

    2. Dress Codes are definitely more casual. Montana Casual was the term we used to describe being dressed up. Cowboy boots, jeans, shirt and a sports jacket is about as formal as it gets.

    3. Deer Season and Elk Season opens on Sunday at least in Montana. New Pastors can't believe Deacons are actually planning on being absent!

    4. Unless Pastors live in a big town of which there aren't many they need to get used to a lot of windshield time. Going to the hospital 100 miles away is routine. In a foot of snow is common.

    5. Don't ignore the school calendar or else you're gonna get mighty disappointed with the lack of participation.

    6. People in the West are generally turned off by fluff and show. They like straight shooters. I took a big name preacher to a little church and he preached one morning to 8 people. On leaving he said, "that was the hardest thing I ever did - I could not do this every week."

    7. If you're opposed to eating where they serve alcohol then don't go out to eat.

    These are some common observations. Add Yours Below.
     
  2. Dr. Bob

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    Married a Casper gal in 1970. I've been out here in the mountains since 66 on and off and have to add some thoughts.

    1. Church dress means wiping most of the manure off your boots. Definite smell in most churches.

    2. Independent spirit in ALL parts of life - don't trust the government, don't trust the pastor, don't trust the cops, don't trust those black helicopters.

    That spirit carries over into our churches and theology. NOBODY is going to tell us we are wrong about ANYTHING. There's OUR way and the WRONG way.

    3. Want super clear details on where every penny goes. Money is scarcer then hen's teeth.

    4. Pastors come and go. Their wives can't handle that there are very few green lawns and white picket fences like back in Illinois. Men might see the hunting and fishing; wives usually make life hell for them and they soon leave.

    5. Wind blows. Nothing looks neat and clean and buildings lean.
     
  3. Major B

    Major B
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    Visited a few times; all of the above agrees with my memories. Me, I've got to have trees and green stuff around. Otherwise, it sounds good.

    I have a great old buddy pastoring in Helena MT right now.
     
  4. Trapper

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    I appreciate this post. I was curious about pastoring out west and thought it interesting when Dr. Bob mentioned things were different there. Although I knew things were different than Alabama, I was wanting to know how much more? I'm hoping to make it that way one day soon.
    Ol Trapper
     
  5. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    I want to expand on Hardsheller's Point 1. Out West, the culture is not molded by the vestiges of an evangelical past. If anything it is molded by a Roman Catholic heritage and a rebelious reaction to it. That reaction also welcomes such folks that are discontented with their religious heritage back home.

    As for his Point 7, while I will eat at a Denny's, I won't work there or clerk at a Safeway. Why? They both sell alchohl. I trained early on as a cook. However, when I came home from Bible College, I found I was unable to work in my profession as the only places that didn't serve at least beer and wine were MacDonalds.

    [ June 11, 2003, 11:56 AM: Message edited by: Squire Robertsson ]
     
  6. Karen

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    Brings back memories! Due to my husband's excellent sense of adventure :rolleyes: , he and I have something I don't think even Dr. Bob has:
    degrees from the University of Wyoming.

    Yes, it is quite different from the Bible Belt.
    When we were there, outsiders came to go to the and I do mean the university (only 1 4-year college in whole state then),work in oil, or be at the Air Force base in Cheyenne.

    The weather is beyond extreme. Even in summer, blizzards can come up. I-80 can be shut for days in the summer to high winds. Distances are VAST.
    People expect to drive 200 miles one way to go to the doctor. And with snow on the roads.
    The growing season is about 2 weeks long.
    Many truly are accustomed to coming to town once in a very great while to get supplies and then go back to isolation. This does affect church fellowship. ;)

    In OK, 25% of the population is on the rolls of a Southern Baptist church, according to what I have heard. Even if they don't go, they feel guilty.
    In WY, probably more are "jack" Mormons and feel guilty they don't go there.
    A number of small towns (actually outposts) have NO churches but several bars.
    In the church we attended, 10 in attendance might be a good Sunday.
    Nevertheless, we had missions. And witnessed to people who had never heard the Gospel ONCE before we told them.
    However, lots of Baptists did actually pass through. In our town, they looked at our church, got depressed, (no choir, no nursery, no youth group, hardly anything else either), and promptly became Presbyterians or Methodists. They had been there longer and had choirs, etc.
    All of the ex-Baptists together would have made a nice church in numbers, but no one wanted to be the pioneer.

    Speaking broadly, people in the West are more independent and less meeting-oriented than Bible Belt Southerners. But if you are a friend, they mean it, and it is intense and long-lasting.
    And it also takes longer to develop such relationships.

    Karen
     
  7. Dr. Bob

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    Man, Karen, you sound a little home sick it seems to me! [​IMG]

    Come on back. We have no taxes, no crowds and no jobs, but hey, no where is perfect!

    "Wyoming: Like Nowhere on Earth" - not that's for certain sure! [​IMG]
     
  8. Karen

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    Oh, yes, indeed, I have been back. In 2000 and 2001, we went camping south of Yellowstone.

    I'm more partial to the big city lights! [​IMG]

    Karen
     
  9. SaggyWoman

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    The things we hold to just because of "tradition".
     
  10. go2church

    go2church
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    YES, YES and YES!
    Didn't mention the whole having to clean up the spit cups after services and washing out the water fountain full of little black specs of used Skoal and Copenhagan. That is if you have a water fountain
    Friendly = only asking twice why you there, where you came from and when your leaving
     

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