Churches in rural contexts often face a unique set of challenges. Much of England can be defined as rural yet often the focus is on urban or suburban contexts. However the opportunity for churches to work together to effectively serve the needs of the local community can sometimes have a greater impact, because of the size of a particular community; whether a hamlet, village or market town.
The Churches Rural Group meets three times a year to consider the joys and challenges of churches working together in rural contexts, and are a CTE co-ordinating group. The CRG is linked to the International Rural Churches Association which gathers every 4 years. The next gathering takes place via zoom for 24 hours on 7th-8th March 2022 you can read details here.
In 2019 The Council for Christian Unity produced excellent research entitled Doing Mission Together, surveying how churches were working together through evangelism and social action in small to medium-sized market towns.
There are a range of excellent resources for churches in rural contexts to draw on, including:
The Arthur Rank Centre: an independent ecumenical charity aimed at supporting an encouraging rural mission and ministry. They long to see confident rural Christians. During the Covid-19 pandemic they provided a weekly reflection aimed specifically at rural Christians, entitled Together Apart, with writers from many different denominations.
Rural Ministries was established in 1962 with a vision to see the countryside served by people of mission who are grace-filled, God-empowered and contextually relevant. They have a number of resources and training events aimed at rural Christians.
The Rural Evangelism Network exists to encourage good practice in evangelising the rural communities of the United Kingdom. It has a number of resources and an ideas exchange forum.
The Agricultural Chaplains Association are the only ecumenical Association that specialises in caring for Agricultural and Rural Chaplains, Farming Support Chaplains, Rural Support Officers, Diocesan Rural Life Advisers and Rural Officers working throughout the churches.