I believe it is to these rural districts that we are to look in large measure for the bone and sinew of our country.
— James B. Duke Indenture of Trust creating The Duke Endowment 1924

How do you measure the success of a rural church?

Though most United Methodist churches in North Carolina are rural, the standard to which they are held is increasingly the large, urban church. Urban churches offer multiple programs, large and varied worship services, and multiple staff members, and they tend to be where the growth in the denomination is located.

By contrast, many rural churches have seen their programs stagnate due to membership loss. Consequently, appointments to these churches are looked upon by some as stepping stones to places of greater prominence. The pastors in these rural churches often feel a crisis of confidence about their significance and struggle to know how to reach out to a community in a way that matters.

Yet some of our rural churches are places of great hope and promise for fulfilling powerful ministry – they are still the bone and sinew of our country. To extend and propagate this success, we need more ministers who are properly trained and motivated to become transformative leaders. By transformative, we mean not leadership merely for technical change, but leadership that asks churches and communities to undergo fundamental and adaptive shifts in thought and behavior.

Thriving Rural Communities is helping to enable this transformation. Download the files below to see the fruits of our work.