Cultivating Rural Ministry 

Faith+Lead Book Hub

Cultivating Rural Ministry

Each calling has unique challenges. Every community or congregation has its own roadmap to navigate – and rural ministry is certainly no exception. If you are involved in rural or small-town ministry, where do you find hope and help right now? What actually sustains church leaders and congregations in the midst of the many challenges, and where are some opportunities for development and innovation? During this event, we will hear from authors who are church leaders in the parish, from researchers on rural ministry, and from you as you share what day-to-day life is really like.

Thursday, February 10, 1:00 PM CST
FREE Admission
(Registration will be capped at 300 participants)

We hope you'll join us


God’s Country: Faith, Hope, and the Future of the Rural Church

With the poetic force of Kathleen Norris and the pastoral warmth of Eugene Peterson, Kansas pastor Brad Roth sets forth a vision for vibrant rural churches, for ministry in congregations that bear a profound sense of both loss and possibility, and for harvesting fruits of transformation and renewal. Rooted in stories from Scripture, his own ministry, and interviews with rural church leaders, Roth offers a sturdy theological and practical alternative to church-growth strategies that rely on success stories and flashy metrics. “Reclaiming God's vision for the rural church,” Roth writes, “means learning how to praise, abide, watch, pray, grow, work the edges, die, befriend, and dream.” In God's Country, rediscover the stunning abundance of God's presence in rural communities. Name the ways that the rural church testifies to God's glory and goodness. Learn to live and love and minister right where you are, no matter how small or unassuming it may seem.

Reclaiming Rural: Building Thriving Rural Congregations

As rural America continues to undergo massive economic and demographic shifts, rural churches are uniquely positioned to provide community leadership. Leading a rural congregation requires a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing these communities, as well as a strong theological and community-focused identity. Allen T. Stanton describes how in establishing this identity, rural leaders build a meaningful and vital ministry.

Reclaiming Rural explores the myths and realities of rural places, and how those common narratives impact the leadership of rural churches. Ultimately, rural congregations must practice a contextual understanding of vitality, which understands both the strengths and challenges of leading in a rural setting.

Arguing for a practice of evangelism imbued with this mission of vitality, Reclaiming Rural promotes the church as a leader in economic and community development, modeled upon a Wesleyan theology of grace. Acknowledging the many challenges facing rural churches, this book is an energetic and encouraging guide to overcoming social and economic obstacles to build a thriving congregation.


What You’ll Gain

  • In-depth discussion of what sustainability means in small-town/rural ministry
  • Opportunities to name some of the unique challenges you are facing now
  • Research specific to the rural ministry context
  • Examples of faith-based development in rural areas


Learn More
Because of the challenges unique to rural ministry, the need for community – for shared meals as well as shared grief – dominates the cultural and literal landscape. The beauty of this event is twofold: even as you’re learning new ways of building community, you’ll also be experiencing it in realtime.
Meet the Authors

Rev. Dr. Sarah Cordray

Rev. Dr. Cordray currently serves as Senior Pastor at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church in Syracuse, Nebraska where she has resided for over seven years with her husband, Nicholas (Deacon in the ELCA), and her two teenage children. While previously serving in a four-point parish in the Panhandle of Nebraska, Sarah quickly realized that the adaptive changes of rural communities challenged her to lead with adaptive changes in ministry. She completed her Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Leadership and Mission in 2017 from Luther Seminary during which she gained these new skill sets in her leadership. Rev. Dr. Cordray is a beloved contributor to Faith+Lead, where her articles – including God-Sized Dreams: A Gospel of the Small and Accompanying in Advent: Reaching Out to Those Who Became Disconnected – continue to inspire. When she isn’t engaged in work or family life, she loves to volunteer for the Nebraska Synod through Synod Council, Leadership Team, and the NE Synod Vitality Initiative for Congregations as a coach.

Rev. Brad Roth
Brad Roth serves as pastor at West Zion Mennonite Church in rural Moundridge, Kansas. He grew up baling hay, tending sheep, and shearing Christmas trees on a farm in Illinois. He is a graduate of Augustana College, Harvard Divinity School, and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. Brad has a heart for serving God and God's people in rural communities. He's passionate about sharing his faith in word and deed and living out God's love in the community. He and his wife enjoy gardening, keeping chickens, and hanging with their three sons. Brad blogs on seeing God in the every day at His book, God’s Country: Faith, Hope, and the Future of the Rural Church was published by Herald Press and won an Award of Merit in Christianity Today’s 2018 Book Awards. Brad has a second book on the rural church due out in the fall of 2022 in the Lexham Ministry Guides series. His latest book: The Hunger Inside: How the Meal Jesus Gave Transforms Lives is coming out April 5 with Paraclete Press.
Rev. Allen Stanton

Allen Stanton is the Chief of Mission Integration and Outreach at the University of Tennessee Southern, where he also serves as the Executive Director of the Turner Center for Rural Vitality. Allen is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, and has served a variety of settings, always focused on strengthening rural communities. He is the author of Reclaiming Rural: Building Thriving Rural Congregations, (use discount code RLFANDF30 for 30% off), and holds degrees from Wake Forest University and Duke Divinity School. Allen lives in rural Tennessee with his wife and two daughters.

Are you an author whose book could be of value to the Faith+Lead audience? We might be able to feature you during an upcoming Book Hub event! Contact us to learn more.

The routines and rhythms of rural ministry are as unique as the people who spend their lives in these small towns and parishes. Share your experience as you learn from others in the work with you.