What To Expect In A Small Town Community

Before your group serves in a small town community, you’ll want to learn a little bit about the culture and pace of life in smaller towns. Here are a few things to prepare your leaders and teenagers for service in small town communities.

Life in a Small Town Community

Unlike the hum of city traffic and business of urban life, the atmosphere of a small town is slower, quieter and more personal. The focus of life in these communities is relationships. Community members usually know their neighbors well, but also their barber, the guy at the gas station and the person in next aisle at the grocery store. This close community can build a strong support system, but it can also create conflicts that leave some on the margins.

The close-knit atmosphere also means that when your group comes into town, community members will know it! This gives your group a greater ability to impact the community positively, but it also means that you’ll be in the spotlight all week long. Wherever you go in the community, community members will likely know who you are and what you are doing there.

Community members will enjoy meeting someone who has traveled to serve in their town. We invite you to join us in taking the opportunity to let go of any preconceptions and get to know community members as they are and not as we may expect them to be.

Logan, West Virginia

Serving in a Small Town Community

At YouthWorks, we have learned that there are a number of typical reactions groups experience stepping into this type of community. We share these with you so you know what to expect and so you understand that it’s normal to have these feelings.

Time Sensitivity. Spending time with people is valued more than being on time. As a result, things don’t always run on schedule; community members may show up “late” to an event. This is not a sign of disrespect. When you meet someone for the first time, think of it as “visiting” instead of a “meeting.” Spend time getting to know people before you try to get things done.

Quietness/Listening. Small towns tend to be quiet places. Large groups of teenagers bring a lot of energy and noise to a quiet place. When in a small town community, try to be mindful of this energy and volume.

In the Spotlight. People will know you are in town, so be very aware of how your behavior looks to others. Something as simple as driving too fast through town or being unfriendly at a store can reflect poorly on your presence in the community.

Access. Small town communities do not always have ready access to the variety or quality of conveniences you may be used to in your home community. Things like health care facilities, places of business and internet connections are not always readily available. Check your expectations as you enter the community and be careful how you speak about the community when around others. 

Bayou La Batre, Alabama

Questions to Ask Before Your Service Experience:

  • What are some ways culture or ethnicity impact our faith, ministry and relationships?
  • How can the views from our culture impact your week in a different culture?
  • What are some stereotypes we might have about small towns? How might these be misconceptions?

No matter where you serve, you have the incredible opportunity do something meaningful alongside unique individuals whom God calls sons and daughters. How will you prepare for the place, so you can more effectively serve and learn from the people?

Not sure if a small town community is the right fit for your group? Check out our other community types

CLICK HERE to receive more information on serving with YouthWorks!

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