Tim Keller says somewhere that his advice for rookie pastors wanting to gain early experience to prepare and equip them for the long term is to consider being a ‘country parson’. In other words, he advises ministers to seek work in churches that are out in the country, in places deep in the sticks, somewhere where there’s no Starbucks. Among the reasons Keller gives for this counterintuitive counsel is that having to work in rural (often small) churches will expose ministers to the full spectrum of ministry tasks and skills (fund-raising, counselling in various settings, visiting and spending time with a vast spectrum of people, speaking in very diverse contexts, training most if not all the lay volunteers, etc, etc) which would tend not to be the case in more urban, often larger churches. Having been in a semi-rural parish for the past 4 years, Keller’s argument resonates with me and in the past few days, another reason has vividly been presented to me. I was recently visiting a parishioner who’s only just started coming to church. At the end of a very cordial visit, I was presented with among other things, the incredibly sized goodies pictured below (The smaller ones are supermarket bought). When was the last time you saw anything like this at your local grocers? Well know ye today that being in a rural parish vastly reduces thy shopping bill and affords thee wholesome goods that make thy taste buds tingle. Also, young pastors should not turn up their noses at such places!