Sue's story

Evangelism in rural areas has its own unique challenges and opportunities. Sue shares some of what she's learnt as a Methodist minister in rural communities.

Evangelism in rural areas has its own unique challenges and opportunities. Sue shares some of what she's learnt as a Methodist minister in rural communities.

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One of the great advantages of being
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a minister in the countryside,
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is that Jesus of course himself, was a country lad.
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My name's Sue and I'm a Methodist minister.
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Well it was a total challenge for me being in the countryside.
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I'd always lived in the inner city
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and then just on the outskirts of the city.
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The countryside is totally different from how I thought it would be,
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what I didn't know was how isolating it can be
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and so although isolation's a problem
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it's a great opportunity for evangelism.
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And the church's role is to just open up the building
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to provide these places where folk can just come,
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and friendships and fellowships can be made.
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I believe in the Missio Dei, which is
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God already at work
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and I believe that the role of the church
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is simply to join in with
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what God has already planned.
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And so a lot of it is to do with listening around.
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For instance when I was on the sheep farm over in West Yorkshire,
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there were a lot of community festivals
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and a lot of them had legends attached to them -
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like the cuckoo festival which was a crazy one.
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It was in spring and the whole village would come alive
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and there'd be street jesters and dancing in the streets,
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and stalls and the usual sort of festive stuff.
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And one of the churches was at the end of this main street
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and the doors remained closed throughout the whole festival.
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So one thing we did, we started to open the doors
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and then we started joining in with the community festivals,
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and doing almost as the first century Christians did - Christianising them.
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For instance, we had a jazz festival
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I remember one particular moment
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we did it's raining jazz, hallelujah
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and we paraded around the streets
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with umbrellas and things.
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And there were so many people who came into that church that morning -
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that we had to relate into the hall and then outside -
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we're talking about hundreds of people in a village church.
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One of our ladies saw some mums just on the corner
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and they'd dropped the kids off from school and it was raining
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and she just went up to them and she said:
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"if we put cups of tea on in the church, would you come?"
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And they said: "if you put us some toast on we'll definitely come."
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And so the tea and toast project was born.
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60 odd young parents would come and older people too,
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the rural bus would drop them off outside the building,
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they'd done a bit of shopping,
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and then they came in for tea and toast.
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A walker's group who were into health at that time,
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a walker's group would set off from the church and
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and come back for tea and toast.
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This huge project came from something simple like tea and toast.
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We got more baptisms or requests for baptisms,
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and weddings and all sorts of things
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and people just wanting to talk.
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And sometimes realising that we were open Sundays
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and that was a good place, and good people to hang around with,
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and eventually some of them would come to faith.
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We were aided by traditional courses like
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the Start course, and the Y course and Alpha course, yes we were
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but people just feeling the love of Jesus was the main thing.
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Each place that I've worked as a Methodist minister,
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I've had different ways of outreach and it's
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listening and tuning in with what's appropriate for that particular area.