Small-Town America: Finding Community, Shaping the Future

by Robert Wuthnow. Princeton University Press, 2013.

Everyone knows the joke about a small town: “Don’t blink or you’ll pass it.” And while many might poke fun at small, rural, out of the way places, author Robert Wuthnow is quick to point out that what generally keeps people living there is the community they provide. Small towns provide a sense of place and familiarity; a context for belonging and knowing your neighbor. Wuthnow, Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and expert in the field of sociology and religion, draws from three decades of research and more than 700 in-depth interviews to tell the real story behind small town America. While this book is not primarily about congregational life in small towns, there is one chapter devoted to the impact of faith on community life. This book could be a helpful and hopeful resource for clergy and laity in small town congregations who want to understand how to draw upon their strengths rather than focus on their weaknesses.