Focus on Rural Ministry
October 31, 2021
All right! I do want you to grab your Bibles, but there’s no need to open them right away. This morning is going to be a little bit different. I’m going to speak for a few moments and then we will have a video sermon from John Adams, the Executive Director of Village Missions.
Every year, Village Missions dedicates one Sunday as a day to remind churches and their congregations about why the Mission of Village Missions is so important. This used to be called Village Missions Sunday, though it has changed in name to Focus On Rural Missions Sunday (FORM).
Now, I don’t think I need to sell anyone in this room on the benefits on focusing on Rural Ministry and bringing the Gospel to rural areas of North America. There are many in this room who can tie their faith directly to Village Missions, or AMF, or some other individual or organization that was clearly and strongly called specifically to Rural Missions.
What I want to do is preemptively piggyback on the theme of this years VM Sunday. This year’s theme is Partnership in Rural Missions.
Village Missions is built on Gospel partnership. Vm does not run churches, they do not own churches, they do not plant churches or anything like it. They partner with the local church. This is straight from the VM website:
Village Missions places spiritually qualified missionary-pastors in churches at the invitation of local rural communities. These missionary-pastors serve in a full-time capacity, preaching the Word and loving the people. We support the leadership through prayer as well as financial and other logistical assistance.
They are in partnership with these local churches to Equip the church, to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. This partnership is one of the biggest things in determining if VM will partner with a field. They are not here to compete with other Gospel sharing, Bible teaching churches. They are dedicated to ensuring that every community has a Gospel presence.
One way it was described to me, and ill adapt it to us, really stuck with me. IF our church, if Bangor Community Church were not here, many of us would travel to Oroville or Gridley or Palermo or Rackerby or wherever and would commute to a different church. But would a non-Christian go out of their way, get up early on a Sunday morning, drive all the way to Oroville and go to a church where they probably don’t know anyone and where they worship a God that the non-Christian doesn’t believe in. Now, with our church here, we have seen it happen and some of us have been that one who sees this church day in and day out and knows someone who goes here and thinks about it a long while and finally decides, “You know, its right here, right in town, its not really out of my way. Yeah, I’ll go.”
These are the communities that Village Missions partners with. To Equip our church, as a church body and as individuals to do the Work of the Ministry. Ministry as individuals that people know go to this church. And Ministry as a church to make ourselves presentable and welcoming to those who would come.
Now, John Adams is going to talk about some of the different ways that we can partner together to help bring the Gospel to rural communities and will preach mostly out of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. I want to share some of the practical ways that VM offers resources and some real-life ways that partnerships through VM have impacted lives.
Contenders Discipleship Initiative, CDI. Some of you already know about this and some of you started to take advantage of this program before we shut down for COVID.
The Contenders Discipleship Initiative (CDI) is a two-year program offered by Village Missions to equip Christians for ministry within their local church and to prepare those who are called for full-time ministry as missionary pastors.
The CDI program is tuition-free and involves two components:
- Biblical Education
- Mentoring for Ministry
The Way that we went about it was much more casual than it sounds here, but the goal is the same. To equip us to know our Bible more and to know how to know our Bible more. Taken as developed, completed these 6 courses is the equivalent to going to Bible school. This is offered for free, not just to VM churches, but to anyone who wants to get to know their Bible better.
When we were doing CDI here, we got about halfway through the first class, Hermeneutics, How to Study the Bible. We are going to start the classes back up again in January, for those who have been asking. The first class, the first half of it, since we have already gone over it, we will go through it slightly accelerated, a refresher if you already took the first half. And if you are interested in coming, we will be going through the first half again so that you won’t be left behind.
Another resource that I recommend, a website VM put together, vmchurches.org. This is a listing of all of the Village Missions churches throughout Canada and the US. IT lists the missionary serving there, it has addresses and services times and sometimes more information about their church and/or congregation. I’ve seen this be useful in a number of ways.
IF you are going on vacation and want to know if there is a bible based, Gospel preaching church in the area, you can look that location up on the website and they will let you know where the closest VM church is. This also works if you are moving and looking for a new church near your new home.
On this site, the missionary can also provide links to the church websites, Facebook pages, Twitter handles, and audio or video of sermons from the church. I personally enjoy, on those rare occasions when I have some quiet time, to go listen to another Village Missionary’s sermons. IT helps me stay connected to what others are doing throughout the country.
Each rural community is different. Many have the same or similar success or obstacles, different local backgrounds, traditions, history, it’s a completely different mission field.
The connection, the partnerships between VM churches can have wonderful affects and benefits. I was counseling one gentleman, we met together a number of times. He was moving up to the Redding area. Redding is one of those areas that, along with many faithful Bible teaching churches, there are some very big, very prominent, very heretical churches as well. I was able to show him the VM churches website so he could look for himself, and because I knew some of the pastors in those VM churches, I was able to recommend some of them specifically.
Another way that the partnership and connection between fellow VM churches worked was just the last few months with the VM church in Greenville. Many of you have been there or been through that town. Hope and I met the Hendrix’s this summer at the Annual Staff conference. When the fire ripped through and burned the town down, including the church and parsonage, we have names and faces to put with the stories of what happened up there. Hope was able to talk to Janice and see what it was that was needed right now, what would be needed soon and what the specific prayer requests were. We also have been able to hear the answers to those prayers as well. That happened because of your guy’s generous hearts, your knowledge of what it means for a fire to rip through town, some of you lost your homes and so you know exactly how to pray and some of those practical needs that aren’t thought of till much, much later. It happened because of you guys and because of the connection and partnership of two Village Missionaries and their churches.
One of things that ministry has taught me that I absolutely didn’t know practically at the beginning, though I would have verbally affirmed it. We can’t do this on our own. God has created us for fellowship, for community and for partnership.
We are lucky enough to live in places that are, unfortunately, sometimes easily forgotten. But God has not forgotten. It is easy to see all the things going on in this world and specifically in this country where it seems like the church is losing, people are running away form God, rejecting him in all that they do. But God is working, he is moving mightily and the rural, forgotten places in this country are a big part of that.