A Big Gospel in Small Places: Why Ministry in Forgotten Communities Matters

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


A Big Gospel in Small Places: Why Ministry in Forgotten Communities



Stephen Witmer


IVP Praxis (an imprint of InterVarsity Press)

Publication Date:

November 5, 2019




216 pages


Every pastor wants to do work that leaves a real impact. In recent years, ministry leaders have emphasized pastoring in city churches as the most impactful work, the kind that gives pastors the most room to use their gifts and influence the most people. But how much of this thinking is truly Biblical or accurate? Stephen Witmer argues that the best ministry pastors can do is whatever churches God calls them to, big or small. He delves into the challenge and benefits of small-town ministry, building a compelling case that small-town pastors don’t have to feel inferior.

When writing a book that argues for or against a trend in church culture, most writers tend to go all in for one side or another. In a case like this, it’s tempting to either prioritize urban ministry as the only way to go or argue that small-town ministry is where the real work is. Witmer builds a strong case that church leaders have under-emphasized the potential small-town churches can have, showing flaws in common arguments they use. At the same time, he makes it clear not everyone is called to small-town ministry and it’s not a question of which kind of ministry is better. He emphasizes throughout that both are necessary, the real question is where God calls pastors to go. By talking about the benefits of small-town ministry and stories of well-known Christian leaders like George Herbert who devoted their lives to pastoring small towns, Witmer creates a compelling vision of what pastors can accomplish even in little-known places. A relevant, well-written response to a discrepancy in modern ministry.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Intended Audience

Pastors considering whether to minister in small towns, church leaders seeking to understand why small-town ministry matters as much as urban ministry.

Christian Impact

This book will free church leaders of misconceptions about what qualifies as “important ministry,” thus allowing them to follow their call wherever God leads them to.

A Big Gospel in Small Places: Why Ministry in Forgotten Communities Matters

About ECLA Web Team

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals. This account is managed by the ECLA Web Team.


  1. Good (and Foolish) Country People (Building a Better Christian Novel Pt. 7) – G. Connor Salter - December 11, 2020

    […] Witmer, who pastors a rural church in Massachusetts, observes in his book A Big Gospel in Small Places that people inside and outside of small towns can idealize country life. He also notes that means […]

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