Rural Ministries: Could we help you?
What comes to your mind when you think of the rural church? Perhaps you visualise the Vicar of Dibley and the comical way it portrayed rural ministry. Maybe you have a more nostalgic image in mind, and see a picturesque Anglican church as so often depicted in period dramas on television, surrounded by a rose-covered arch and manicured graveyard. Sleepy, quaint and sentimental are often words chosen by those seeking to describe the rural church. I wonder if you would intentionally select words such as vibrant, innovative, essential and strategic? At Rural Ministries, we would.
Rural Ministries is a non-denominational charity established in 1962, to support and help grow churches who are called to witness within the rural context. With nearly 60 years of experience, coupled with the dynamism of a contemporary mission agency, we want to help you! Our goal is to tackle the isolation experienced by many who serve Christ within the countryside, encourage missional innovation and to share the hope we have in Jesus, and the increasing expectation that God has not finished with the rural church.
Life in the countryside has many benefits; a beautiful environment, a strong sense of community and proportionally fewer instances of ill health to name but a few. Rhythms and seasons play an essential part in country life, along with a strong sense of history and the importance of local place. None of these should ever be barriers to mission; in fact, correctly identified, they could become significant assets to the way Christians work, worship and witness within the rural context.
Working closely with the Baptist Union through the regional Associations, we have sought to support, network together and further resource rural congregations, their leaders, as well as encourage fresh expressions of church. We believe in investing in mission and giving people ‘permission to fail’ – the opportunity to try something without unrealistic expectations on ‘success.’
Our stories include Sutton St James Baptist, in Lincolnshire. This tiny Baptist church in the heart of a Fenland village is served by Sue and Arnie Hensby. Through help and support to develop their existing building into a hub for the community, Sue and Arnie have seen the numbers grow from less than 10 to over 35 people regularly attending Sunday worship, 18 of whom are children.
Despite being often smaller in size and seen by many as less strategic, we believe God has much more to do through the rural church. Our vision is to see the countryside served by people of mission, who are grace-filled, God empowered and contextually relevant, and we’d love to work with you to help this become a reality.
If you would like further details of our work, and how we might be able to help you in your situation, please have a look at Rural Ministries' website
or contact us on 01440 788383 and see how you could begin your own missional adventure.
The Revd Simon Mattholie
CEO of Rural Ministries and an accredited Baptist Minister