Wednesday, June 16, 2010

faith outback: planting rural fresh expressions

The feature story in the Australian Outback magazine (June 2010) is titled Faith:Belief in the bush. It’s pretty hefty – 22 pages – and explores how people have coped with the adversity of recent drought. There’s an appeal to a faith rooted in land and that is sensitive to indigenous issues. And all as the lead article in a commercial magazine. Secular Australia? Really?

There’s some challenges to theology.

For rural Australia to succeed and grow we need people who are prepared to take risks and try different approaches. Faith can be a huge driver for change. Equally it can be a form of avoidance. There are some who put all their faith in God or industry leaders to fix the problems. Having faith in yourself, your family and your community means accepting that you are accountable. Cheryl Philips.

There’s a nice nod to fresh expressions – rural style – including the rise of lay ministry, discussion groups and home churches.

For rural people, having their lives enriched spiritually through their relationships with others is where it’s at. If that leads to going to church, then that’s an added benefit. The church now wants to be a legitimate working part of the community. Ross Neville, Uniting church rural consultant.

A few weekends ago I taught at a lay training event called Grow and Go. My topic was Mission-shaped community. To break up the monotony of Steve Taylor talking for 8 hours, each person was given an overhead projector acetate. Each acetate had the following headings:

  • A new insight:
  • A new idea and/or resource:
  • An inspirational story:

And I spread a whole lot of resources around the table – short articles, booklets, a few computers with websites to browse. The group had 30 minutes to browse, read and fill in the acetate if they found a new insight, idea or story. And then we had a great reporting back session – various ones sharing with the group a resource they had discovered. The most popular resource were those I dug out on rural ministry. Like the Grove Books – a veritable treasure trove – for example some of these.  Rural ministry in Australia dying? Really?

Posted by steve at 08:38 PM