Wednesday, February 29, 2012

fantastic resources for rural mission

On Friday I’m speaking to Uniting Church folk from rural South Australia. Being a townie, it’s meant a morning of preparation, including working my way through a journal called Rural Theology.

It is a goldmine.

For example, David Walker, “The Social significance of Harvest Festivals in the countryside: an empirical enquiry among those who attend,” Rural Theology 7 (1), 3-16, 2009 researched Harvest Festivals at 27 churches. He found that 16% were visitors and concluded that “Harvest still reaches out beyond the locality of the congregation.”

Another example, Leslie J Francis and Sue Pegg, “Psychological type profile of volunteer workers in a rural Christian charity shop” Rural Theology 5 (1), 53-56, 2007. While church services are more likely to cater for introverts, when a rural church began an opportunity shop, 27 of the volunteers were extroverts, while 3 were introverts. Thus “rural Christian charity shops … extend the range of people in contact with the Christian gospel.” (Francis and Pegg, 55)

Another example, Sue Pegg and Lewis Burton, “Local Festivals in two Pennine villages: the reactions of the local Methodist church congregations.” Rural Theology 4 (1), 11-22, 2006, explore secular local festivals and conclude

“Five main themes emerge from this study of two Pennine villages which may have wider implications for rural ministry. First, local secular festivals provide evangelistic opportunities for local churches. Second, traditional attitudes and practices can prevent churches making the most of such evangelistic opportunities. Third, some discernment is required as not all secular festivals are equally compatible with Christian values and expectations. Fourth, with open and welcoming attitudes built between the church and the village community at festival time, benefits for both church and village can ensue. Fifth, festivals enable the church to be perceived as an integral part of village life, rather than something apart, if the opportunities created by festivals are securely grasped.” (21)

This is not theories about what could be done, but actual data on people who attend harvest festivals and volunteer and might participate into the wider community.

Posted by steve at 02:52 PM


  1. You are too late this year, but Tanunda hosts a Vintage Festival in February (which includes a service at the local Lutheran Church) to declare the vintage “open”.

    Comment by kerry — February 29, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

  2. I reckon that many communities have local festivals, which raises the question of if and how a church might participate,


    Comment by steve — February 29, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

  3. Biblical festivals had a harvest component and a history of faith component. Fusion have been training people in many towns, states and nations Pj how to do community festivals with fun faith content.

    Comment by ian — March 1, 2012 @ 12:00 am

  4. we had some interesting conversations a few years back when the community wasn’t harvesting (much) because of drought about how the church enters into harvest with a community where there is no harvest, or when times are tough…

    Comment by Darren — March 2, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

  5. Thanks Darren. In 2009, the urban church I used to pastor realised that while the harvest festival had lain dormant for years, the global financial crisis had encouraged a good number of our young families back into the garden. So we started it again, with a much more missional focus, including linking with our spring clean in September when we gave out free veges in the community, with an invite to bring surplus for the community foodbank to the harvest festival.


    Comment by steve taylor — March 2, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

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