Seasons, cycles, rhythms and change. Hot topics in any Fresh Expressions (FX) chat – but arguably nowhere more starkly observed than in the rural context. Whilst many of the issues and principles facing urban and rural FX practitioners are the same, the rural context can provide a unique set of circumstances which highlight the challenges in a bright-spotlight-in-your-face kind of way. Suspend potential urban mutterings for a moment whilst we consider these factors:
- the geographical areas for Fresh Expressions to cover are bigger (likewise the inherited church) and so there is a greater distance to travel to gather or find like-minded folk.
- the age profile tends to be older so there is less critical mass of children and young adults to sustain work amongst this demographic/
- inherited church leaders are often required to maintain multiple-parishes and aging buildings, leading to less resource available for pioneering new FX outworkings.
And (unsurprisingly) a combination of these factors are leading to speedier decline in church attendance in rural areas… All in all, its tough out there amongst those rolling hills.
Over more than a decade now, Fresh Expressions of Church have been planted and being developed in Rural settings. We held a conference in May of 2017 on the subject of Rural Fresh Expressions and we joined by 80 people from all ages and all walks of life. Click on the photo (left) to find some of the things that went on.
These pages give you an introduction into this area, but if you’re interested and want to know more you can contact Kath Atkins at the email address to continue to conversation. You can also check out our Rural Strategy called What Do You See?
Rural FX ministry is full of challenge and opportunity – there is a time for both, and across the country some incredible things are happening.