Mission-Shaped and Rural: Growing churches in the countryside

7 Oct

I have just finished this book by Sally Gaze. It is a book which takes much of the thinking and learning from Mission Shaped Church and seeks to place it within a rural context. It is a good book with good reflections upon the challenges but also the opportunities that are present for the rural church. It also has some helpful stories of ways that churches are being creative or doing things differently to engage appropriately within their areas and demographics.

It has been helpful to read some of the challenges facing the rural church as it has helped my mind to continue to adjust out of a suburban mind set of ecclesiology. I found my mind wandering and dreaming at times to the opportunities that we have within Alderholt, I guess that this is the sign of a good book.

The most useful thing within it for me was the thinking around network and parish. The assumption within Mission Shaped Church was that it would be from networks of relationships that Fresh Expressions would arise. Within this book however it expressed the importance of parish with a rural setting, and as with most things there will be need for both. This actually sums up quite well some of the conversations and thinking that I have already been having. In a mixed economy of church the parish system will have a historic but non the less important role but sitting alongside this the place for the new, different expressions. These must work together if possible to be “all things to all people.” This is a simple thing to say but must we must aim high.

the book brought my mind back again to a process of christology-missiology-ecclesiology in that order and how that must be the process within the village.

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