Thriving Rural Communities, in cooperation with Mt. Olive College and several local ecumenical organizations, is sponsoring a gathering of clergy and laity in North Carolina to explore the shape of Christian community and the nature of Christian mission in our small-town, rural context.
Some might think that the term "vital congregations" applies only to large churches. But interestingly, about 64 percent of United Methodist churches have 175 or fewer members, and many of these congregations are thriving.
In an article in the United Methodist Reporter, Mallory McCall discusses the factors that enable small-membership churches to be just as effective as their megachurch counterparts. Be sure to check it out.
An audio recording of this month’s Rural Ministry Colloquium, Evangelism for the Rural Church, is now available for download via iTunes U.
Hear Tim Reaves, a Duke Divinity School graduate and lead pastor of the thriving, three-point Bladen United Methodist Charge in rural eastern North Carolina, speak about practical, faithful, and fruitful ways for small churches to share Christ with their communities.
As my family and I were heading to Annual Conference this summer, our van broke down in Hickory, N.C. Fortunately, we were able to make it to the nearest dealership to have the needed work completed. As I was waiting to have my car examined by the mechanic, an older man named John came up to me and commented on my van. When I asked about his vehicle he quickly responded that he did not have a vehicle and that he was here with his family. Come to find out, not only did John not have a vehicle, he was not able to drive.
Her first response to the gift of new life was to burst into tears.
Moments before, the heavens had been ripped open for her. Light flooded in. She found herself transported into a whole new world: the dark, comfortable existence of the past was left behind in an instant. Everything, everything was suddenly unfamiliar.
She started to cry – a mixed wail of anger and fear. Little rivulets of tears tumbled down her cheeks. She gasped and struggled to breathe.
“For though I am free with respect to all,I have made myself a servant to all,so that I might win more of them.To those under the law I became as one under the law . . . so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law . . .I became as one outside the law so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak,so that I might win the weak.I have become all things to all people,that I might by all means save some.I do it all for the sake of the gospel,so that I may share in its blessings.” — I Corinthians 9: 20-23