+ Why Rural?
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. Geographically 93% of the United Kingdom is defined as being ‘rural’, with close to 12 million people living here, a number which between 2001 & 2008 grew faster than the urban context.
Every rural community is different, and we understand this. The unique characteristics of these areas, with their low population densities and distance between residential and commercial centres, can bring additional challenges for those living, working and witnessing in the countryside. Isolation through lack of public transport, networks of people or available resources is often a common theme. This sense of isolation can exist in villages quite near larger towns, where it is common for all the attention to be focused on supporting initiatives in the town rather than surrounding villages.
Rhythms and seasons play an important part of country life, along with a strong sense of history and the importance of local place. Resources for rural churches are often stretched further, with core leaders having to cover a far broader patch than their urban cousins. Rural churches will generally have a conservative culture when it comes to change, and often need help to bring this about.
Rural Ministries recognises and understands these, and many other issues, not least the impact they have on church life. We are here to help you.
+ What We Do
We exist to provide support, guidance and renewed energy for churches and pioneers working in rural communities across the UK.
Our services include:
- Encourage, equip and enable rural churches in mission
- Networking practitioners, pioneers and rural churches together in similar situations
- Offering spiritual and practical support from our experienced staff
- Providing pump-priming resources for mission and church planting
- Teaching, training and raising the profile of rural mission and related issues
- Leadership development, specifically tailored to those working in the rural context
- Hosting an annual conference for all our partners, as a time of teaching, sharing, refreshment and encouragement
- Being the first point of contact for those looking to serve in a rural context
- Offering independent advice when problems arise
- Helping rural churches identify and call core leaders
- Providing an evangelical voice into many of the main line denominations, on challenges faced by rural congregations
+ Our vision and values
We want to release the missional imagination of men and women of God in the countryside, and see kingdom growth through discipleship. Our vision is to see the countryside served by missional communities who are grace filled, God empowered and contextually relevant. In the same way that overseas mission agencies have developed effective strategies for their overseas work, we are convinced similar strategies are required to reach the estimated twelve million people living in rural situations in the UK.
At the heart of everything we do are our values; these are the elements that we have observed in churches and mission initiatives that are vibrant and growing. We stand by them being the set of behaviours that we expect all our partners to embrace to further our vision to see lost people led to Jesus.
Our values are:
We believe that Jesus needs to be at the heart of all we are and all we do.
We believe that the Bible is about God and God’s love for us. As we read about God, and about God’s people, the Bible speaks directly to us today.
We value diversity in the Church; one size does not fit all. We need different types of congregations and different styles of mission in order to make disciples, who in turn make disciples.
We are all about God’s mission, enabling people to journey towards Jesus.
We seek wherever possible to enable churches to be self-sustaining and productive, expectant of growth.
We actively encourage and resource mentoring, appraisals and on-going leadership development; leaders should be constantly learning, growing and accountable to others as disciples.
+ Meet the team
CEO, Revd Simon Mattholie has served in a number of rural
churches throughout his ministry, and regularly teaches on rural mission.
Revd David Hughes has a background in leading rural churches across the UK, and oversees the pastoral care within Rural Ministries.
Nick Jones works for Rural Ministries as our administrator, and supervises the care of our properties.
Gavin Walter works for Rural Ministries as our publications coordinator.
Chairman Stephen Spurgeon leads our Board of Trustees who are instrumental in guiding and advising the work of Rural Ministries on both practical and spiritual issues.
+ Where we work
Rural Ministries works across the UK with a number of Partners in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all of which are linked with the rural context.
+ Our Story
It all started in the early 1960's with a vision to provide housing and evangelise Britain's villages. At the time little did anyone know that God would take two seeds, planted at completely different times and bring them together into one plant. Out of the nurturing of those two seeds came Datchet Evangelical Fellowship and the joining together of the two-fold vision of Pastor Herbert Goddard.
Pastor Goddard had a burden for the rural church to remain open. He was saddened as he saw them closing. He was also concerned for the fate of the retired missionaries and their future accommodation. And so the work of Datchet Evangelical Fellowship (now Rural Ministries) commenced. Over the years we have continued to adapt and change the way we work but the overarching desire to see the unchanging Gospel kept alive in the countryside remains the same.
+ How we are run
As a registered charity, Rural Ministries is directed by a Board of Trustees, consisting of individuals from a number of denominations and church backgrounds who have a passion for mission and church growth.
+ Our Basis of Faith
- The one true God who lives eternally in three distinct but equal persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
- The holiness, love, grace and sovereignty of God in creating, sustaining, ruling, redeeming and judging the world.
- The divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which in their entirety are the written Word of God fully trustworthy for faith and conduct.
- The dignity of all people made male and female in God's image to love, be holy and responsible stewards of creation, yet since our rebellion and fall, subject to sin and death.
- The incarnation of God's eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary, truly divine and truly human, yet without sin.
- The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross: dying in our place, paying the price of sin and defeating evil, so reconciling us with God.
- The bodily resurrection of Christ, the first fruits of our resurrection; his ascension to the Father, and his reign as the only saviour and mediator of the world.
- The justification of sinners solely by the grace of God through faith alone in Christ.
- The ministry of God the Holy Spirit, who leads us to repentance, unites us with Christ through new birth, empowers our discipleship and enables our witness.
- The Church, the body of Christ both local and universal, the priesthood of all believers given life by the Spirit and endowed with the Spirit's gifts to worship God and make disciples who promote justice and love.
- The personal and visible return of Jesus Christ to fulfil the purposes of God, who will raise all people to judgement, bring eternal life to the redeemed and eternal condemnation to the lost, and establish a new heaven and new earth.