Rural Ministry & Small Church Resources

Rural Ministry & Small Church Resources

Here are resources to support you in rural ministry and running small churches.

The books, dating from 2005 to 2018, have a range of viewpoints from evangelical mission to emerging church.

See the Ordering section below for other information about ordering these titles.

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Please also ask us about any other books you are interested in. We will give you a price and time to deliver. Emailing us at works best.


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Some books will be in stock. Others will be ordered in when you place your order. These will usually take 3 to 6 weeks to arrive.

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[Prices, stock levels and estimated delivery time for titles on this page were last updated on 23 March 2018]


All-Age Worship.
Revised & updated 2nd edition.
Lucy Moore.
Pbk 192pp. ISBN 9780857465221.
Bible Reading Fellowship (2016).

[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Noooooo! The prospect of all-age worship can produce a cry of anguish from many people. This book is for those who sense that worshipping God together is probably a good thing, but are nervous of trying to lead their church towards that vision.

It acknowledges that we don’t live in a perfect world – or church – and that no one has all the answers. It also argues that you are the expert for the ways in which your church can best worship God, and helps you start to find those ways and adapt them for your local setting.

Church and Countryside:
Insights from Rural Theology.
Tim Gibson.
Pbk 154pp.ISBN 9780334042037.

SCM Press (2010).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

In the context of their daily work, clergy find themselves confronted with complex ethical, political and social issues. Gibson maps out a rural theology that addresses some of the concerns faced by Britain’s rural population and those who minister to them.

He offers an accessibly written and thoroughly researched discussion of some of the key issues from the point of view of Christian ethics.

Drops into an Ocean:
Continuing the story of Caring For Life.
Juliet Barker.
Pbk 128pp. ISBN 9781786220141.

Canterbury Press (2017).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

An inspiring story of what one church can achieve. 30 years ago, Caring For Life began as a local Christian response to the desperate needs of vulnerable young men in Leeds, struggling to adapt to life beyond the care system.

From this small beginning it rapidly expanded to offer lifelong support to over 100 men and women of all ages who had fallen into homelessness, crime and addiction. Barker tells of the miraculous transformation that has made the charity’s home, Crag House Farm, a state-of-the-art horticultural, agricultural, equestrian, therapeutic and adult learning centre – all in the face of funding cuts and fears of closure.

Essential Celtic Prayers.
Thomas McPherson.
Pbk. 93pp. ISBN 9781612619262. Paraclete Press (2017).

[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Here are some of the most beautiful prayers of the Celtic tradition that speak to us across the centuries.

The early Celts lived in a time and place where nature was ever-present; in the seasonal harvest and disruptions of it, in the brutal climate and in all the gifts from the earth. In their simple rural life, they were surrounded by the cycles of nature: the seasons, lunar months, tides, dawn and dusk. Even in ordinary tasks – gardening, metalworking, sheep herding, and farm chores – they felt God’s sacred presence all around in the natural world.

Followers of the Way:
Ancient discipleship for modern Christians. Simon Reed.
Pbk 160pp. ISBN 9780857465382.
Bible Reading Fellowship (2017).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

One of the most pressing issues in today’s church is encouraging people to become true and effective disciples of Jesus Christ.

If, in simple terms, discipleship is about connecting more deeply with God and connecting God with the whole of life, Simon Reed argues, we’re looking at a lifelong process for which we require long-term skills rather than short-term courses. The Celtic and Desert Christians, drawing on Old and New Testament practices, taught and modelled how to do this through the practice of living by a Way of Life. By drawing together today’s need for disciples and Celtic Christianity, Followers of the Way inspires authentic Christian discipleship for the contemporary world.



Fresh Expressions:
A New Kind of Methodist Church For People Not In Church.
Kenneth H. Carter Jr.; Audrey Warren.
Pbk 124pp. ISBN 9781501849206.
Abingdon Press (2017).
[Allow 2-3 weeks]

This book explores new forms of church that gather and network with people who typically have never been to church.

A wave of new Christian churches are emerging to reach un-churched and de-churched people who live in a culture that is increasingly non-religious and multi-religious. These new forms of church gather and network with people who typically have never been to church. The new faith communities listen to people and go where they are on the journey toward Jesus. They are deeply ecumenical but do not lose their distinctiveness because they learn fresh ways to communicate their identity through discipleship.

The Fresh Expressions movement began in the United Kingdom where it ignited over 3000 new faith communities. In the United States the movement is putting down roots in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

Ken Carter and Audrey Warren offer this book as a group study for church leaders and congregations who are in the grip of Holy Spirit motivation to renew their tradition by reaching people who are de-churched or not yet in a discipleship relationship with Jesus.

Each chapter includes two Bible study experiences for group conversation.

Gathering – Subscription – 4 issues p.a.
United Church of Canada.
A4 Sheets. 92pp.

United Church of Canada (2018-19). $79.99.
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Published four times a year, Gathering is a worship planning resource for ministers, lay preachers, music directors and worship teams.

For each Sunday or feast day Gathering provides:

  • a one line summary of each lectionary reading
  • an overall theme spark
  • a children’s talk idea
  • a sermon starter, and
  • titles and sources of suggested hymns/songs.

 There are also Calls to Worship, Prayers of Approach, Words of Assurance, Offering prayers and benedictions. And each issue has materials around a central theme.


God’s Country:
Faith, Hope, and the Future of the Rural Church.
Bradley Roth.
Pbk 224pp. ISBN 9781513801612.
Herald Press (2017).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Pastor 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 Gods vision for the rural church, Roth writes, means learning how to praise, abide, watch, pray, grow, work the edges, die, befriend, and dream.

Finding God in the World:
A Spiritual Revolution.
Diana Butler Bass.

Pbk, 369pp. ISBN 9780062328564.
Harperone (2017).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Faith is no longer a matter of mountaintop experience or institutional practice; instead, people are connecting with God through the environment in which we live. Grounded guides readers through our contemporary spiritual habitat as it points out and pays attention to the ways in which people experience a God who animates creation and community. 

Bass unpacks how people are finding new spiritual ground by discovering and embracing God everywhere in the world around us—in the soil, the water, the sky, in our homes and neighbourhoods, and in the global commons.

Inhabiting Eden:
Christians, the Bible, and the Ecological Crisis .
Patricia K Tull.
Pbk 200pp. ISBN 9780664233334. Westminster John Knox (2013).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

In this thoughtful study, respected Old Testament scholar Patricia K Tull explores the Scriptures for guidance on today’s ecological crisis. Tull looks to the Bible for what it can tell us about our relationships, not just to the earth itself, but also to plant and animal life, to each other, to descendants who will inherit the planet from us, and to our Creator.

She offers candid discussions on many current ecological problems that humans contribute to, such as the overuse of energy resources like gas and electricity, consumerism, food production systems – including land use and factory farming – and toxic waste. Each chapter concludes with discussion questions and a practical exercise, making it ideal for both group and individual study.

Click here for a podcast interview with Tull

Love Big, Be Well:
Letters to a Small-Town Church.
Winn Collier.
Pbk. 176pp. ISBN 9780802874139.
Eerdmans (2017).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Jonas McAnn is a weary pastor without a congregation, trapped in a dead-end insurance job. Granby Presbyterian is a weary congregation without a pastor, overwhelmed by the prospect of finding someone who actually wants to be a pastor—not a manager, coach, or CEO.

Readers will discover what it means for a pastor and a church to do the slow work of ministry in community—anchored by a common place and buoyed by a life of faith that is meaningful, rooted, and true.

When Granby’s pastoral search committee and Jonas connect through handwritten letters passed back and forth, something sparks between them—something so real and refreshing that even after Jonas and his family move to Granby, he continues the regular practice of writing letters to his congregation.

Spanning seven years of his ministry at Granby Presbyterian, Jonas’s letters ruminate on everything from fly-fishing to the Nicene Creed. They reveal the earthy spirituality woven into the joys and sorrows of the people of Granby, the community of the church, and Jonas’s own unfolding story. 



Mission-Shaped and Rural:
Growing Churches in the Countryside.
Sally Gaze.
Pbk.160pp ISBN 9780715142806.
Church House (2011).
[Allow 4-6 weeks].

Using a compelling mix of theological reflection, sociological analysis, real-life case studies and personal experience this book explores ways forward for mission in a rural context in both traditional and fresh expressions of church.

This insightful book looks at current issues in rural England and explores:

  • The nature of mission with special reference to the rural situation;
  • Ways for the Church to engage with rural culture;
  • Examples of rural fresh expressions of church;
  • Identifying and pruning the things which inhibit mission in the countryside;
  • How all forms of church can work together for the glory of God.

An essential read for all who seek to minister in a rural context, whether at a local, diocesan or national level.

Practicing Care in Rural Congregations and Communities.
Jeanne Hoeft; L Shannon Jung; Joretta Marshall.
Pbk 189pp. ISBN 9780800699543.
Fortress Press (2013).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Pastoral care in rural communities is different from care in other locales. Despite these differences, rural churches and communities also hold a particular wisdom from which the rest of the church might benefit. This book addresses the challenges of people in small towns and rural areas. In seeking to live out the Christian life, local churches have unique and useful insights into what it means to care for one another.


Prayer Seeds:
A Gathering of Blessings, Reflections, and Poems for Spiritual Growth.
Joyce Rupp.

Pbk 224pp. ISBN 9781933495989.
Sorin Books (2017).
[Allow 2-3 weeks]

Sister Joyce Rupp’s most perennially popular books have been collections of her original prayers, blessings, poems, and reflections. In Prayer Seeds, she offers almost a hundred new, never-before-published selections on a variety of themes such as the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year, compassion, ministry, difficult times, and important events—all suitable for personal or group prayer.

Rupp’s warmth and closeness to God along with her sensitivity to the joy and sadness of life make her an ideal prayer companion. Her prayers are like seed planted in your soul. Tended and watered by love, they will grow and bear a rich harvest in your life. 

Re-Shaping Rural Ministry:
A Theological and Practical Handbook .
Jill Hopkinson; Trevor Willmott; James Bell; Martyn Percy eds.
Pbk 160pp. ISBN 9781853119538.

Canterbury Press Norwich. (2009).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

This practical and theological guide to rural ministry comes from the Arthur Rank Centre, the national resource and training centre for rural churches of all denominations.

It focuses especially on the needs of lay and ordained ministers who already help to run local churches in rural areas, those preparing for ministry in such a context, and for those who provide pre- and post-ordination training

It explores:

  • pastoral skills for rural ministry
  • leadership models for rural contexts
  • multi-church ministry
  • developing lay ministry and leadership
  • the distinctive values of rural churches
  • vocational pathways for rural ministry
  • whether mission should be explicit or implicit, and
  • appropriate continuing ministerial education for rural contexts.

Illustrated with real life examples and supported by theological reflection throughout.


Resourcing Rural Ministry:
Practical Insights for Mission.
Simon Martin; Caroline Hewlett; Rona Orme; Becky Payne. Edited by Jill Hopkinson.
Pbk 208pp. ISBN 9780857462626.
Bible Reading Fellowship (2015).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

An in-depth exploration of the key aspects, challenges and opportunities of mission in a rural church. Relevant for ordained and lay leaders alike, the book covers subjects ranging from encouraging evangelism in a multi-church group to making best use of church buildings.

It has a wealth of real-life case studies and suggestions for follow-up.

Rural Revival:
Growing Churches in Shrinking Communities.
W Scott Moore.
Pbk 234pp. ISBN 9780615650395.

Eleos Press (2012).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Can rural churches experience significant growth? The answer is, “YES!” This book defines and applies four major factors that distinguish growing churches from the rest of the pack.

“Dr Scott Moore has written a comprehensive book concerning the socioeconomic, political, and philosophical aspects of the Southern United States Christian church community without any hint of bias, superstition, or any other detraction from that of expanding one’s personal relationship with God. This work expands vocabulary as well as cultural understanding.” Review on Amazon

Rural Pastor’s Handbook:
A How to Guide for Leading Your Flock.
W Scott Moore.
Pbk 284pp. ISBN 9780615965987.
Eleos Press (2014).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

A companion volume to Rural Revival, this book is designed to help you, the rural pastor, improve your prayer life and your preaching, grow your church, and deal with the day-to-day opportunities and problems that you will ultimately face.

“…I have known Scott Moore for almost thirty years. We served together in neighbouring churches for many of those years. I grew to appreciate Scott’s dedication to the Lord, his commitment to the pastoral calling, and his friendship. As you digest this book you will get a sense that the writer has “been there.” He lives and ministers by the suggestions in this handbook. Scott loves other pastors. He does not claim to provide every answer to every situation pastor’s face. But you will find helpful information that will refresh your heart as you go about the high calling of pastor.” Darryl Wood, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Vincent, Alabama

Sharing God’s Blessing:
How to Renew the Local Church.
Robin Greenwood.
Pbk 204pp. ISBN 9780281072156.
SPCK (2016).
[Allow 3-4 weeks]

A practical handbook to help churches recover confidence in their mission and ministry through conversations on the theme of blessing.

A tried-and-tested resource for the renewal of the local church. Faced with the unsustainability of many inherited patterns of church, the temptation may be to fall into despondency rather than seeking to regenerate patterns of mission and ministry. This book is the result of a two-year research project aimed at enabling local churches to regain a sense of confidence through exploring God’s blessing and how that might be shared with the communities they serve.

Silent Days, Silent Dreams.
Allen Say. Hbk.

63pp. ISBN 9780545927611.
Arthur a Levine. (2017).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

James Castle was born two months premature in 1899, on a farm in Garden Valley, Idaho. He was deaf, mute, autistic and probably dyslexic. He didn’t walk until he was four; he would never learn to speak, write, read or use sign language. Yet, today Castle’s artwork hangs in major museums throughout the world.

Caldecott Medal winner Allen Say takes readers through an imagined look at Castle’s childhood, allows them to experience his emergence as an artist despite the overwhelming difficulties he faced, and ultimately reveals the triumphs that he would go on to achieve.

Poignant, moving and a reminder not to make limiting assumptions about any child’s abilities and potential. Suitable for ages 8 and older.

Small on Purpose:
Life in a Significant Church.
Lewis A Parks.
Pbk 121pp.
ISBN 9781501827327.
Abingdon Press (2017).
[Allow 2-3 weeks]

Your small church can do ministry that is unique and necessary in your community. Learn how and celebrate!

In this joyful and honest look at the kingdom-enriching characteristics of small congregations, Lewis Parks demonstrates how to see and build upon those strengths.

Parks shows us how life in a small congregation is profoundly significant and the important role these churches play. This book includes clear instructions on how leaders can streamline ministry to maximise the unique and powerful contributions small churches make in their communities. This book is inspiring and practical, a refreshing point of view for the church and church leaders.

“Small on Purpose was written by a pastor with deep compassion for churches of fewer than one hundred members who faithfully gather each week, energised by the Spirit. Parks gives readers, both clergy and laity, a new framework for considering these churches as sufficient and significant spaces for God’s work to occur in worship, pastoral care, and being church. Read and take hope!” Robin Knowles Wallace, Professor in the Taylor Endowed Chair of Worship and Music, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Delaware, OH

Small Town Mission:
A Guide for Mission-Driven Communities.
Aaron Morrow.
Pbk 140pp. ISBN 9780692712825.
GCD Books (2016).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

A practical guide for gospel-centred mission in small towns. If you haven’t noticed, people who live in small towns have limited options for restaurants, shopping, and books about mission. Small towns desperately need normal, everyday people like farmers, factory workers, teachers, secretaries, and small business owners who think and act like missionaries to reach their friends, neighbours, co-workers, and extended families for Christ.

This book aims to help local churches in small towns do that.

After all, mission isn’t just something that must be prioritized globally and in big cities; it must also be prioritised locally and in small towns.

Strength for the Journey:
A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community
(2nd edition).
Diana Butler Bass.
Pbk 304pp. ISBN 9780898692525.

Church Publishing. (2017).
llow 2-3 weeks].

Butler Bass illustrates the dynamic strength and persistence of mainline Protestantism.

A member of 8 churches over 20 years, she explores the major issues that have confronted mainline denominations, congregations, and parishioners during those years—from debates over women clergy to conflicts about diversity and community, to scrimmages between tradition and innovation.

Philip’s reading of this book is that, while on the surface disputes within churches are about theology or worship style, often the root cause is a struggle for power between established members of a church and those who have joined more recently.

The Forgotten Church:
Why Rural Ministry Matters for Every Church in America.
Glenn Daman.
Pbk 256pp. ISBN 9780802418135.
Moody Publishers (2018).
[Publishing 3 May 2018,
then allow 2-3 weeks].

Americans are beginning to understand the tremendous influence people in rural areas have in our nation.

But rural America is also the new centre of poverty. The rural church stands at the crossroads of strength and struggle. It carries the Gospel, the very hope and power people need. Yet its ministry efforts are hamstrung because urban and suburban churches often don’t realise their need for rural churches, and the rural church itself rarely understands its unique assets and values.

The Forgotten Church addresses these problems.


  •  provides an overview of rural ministry
  • explores opportunities recent trends provide
  • showcases the remarkable benefits of suburban, urban, and rural churches working together.

The Healthy Small Church:
Diagnosis and Treatment for the Big Issues.
Dennis Bickers.
Pbk 144pp. ISBN 9780834122406.
Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (2005).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Bickers diagnoses the issues that threaten the life of the smaller church and prescribes practical remedies for treating these issues.

He offers pastors and church leaders a great diagnostic tool for small churches to become a healthy church that:

  • Has a positive self-image
  • Shares a common vision that creates a sense of purpose and unity
  • Maintains community while still warmly welcoming new visitors
  • Practices the importance of faithful stewardship and financial support
  • Understands ministry to be the responsibility of all the members of the church, and
  • Encourages everyone to serve according to his or her spiritual gifts.

The Social Media Gospel:
Sharing the Good News in New Ways.
2nd edition
. Meredith Gould.

Pbk 152pp. ISBN 9780814647073.
Liturgical Press (2015).
[Allow 2-3 weeks]

If you are responsible for managing digital communications in your parish, staying current with trends in the rapidly changing world of social media can seem like an overwhelming task. What social medium platforms make sense for your parish community? How can you make them an effective tool for ministry?

Gould provides an easy-to-understand, step-by-step guide to digital ministry for those who wish to embrace new technologies to build community and deepen faith.

In this expanded edition, Gould delivers new content with humour, helpful tips, and counsel anchored in practical experience.

She focuses on key topics for effective church communication including:

  • Building and ministering to online communities
  • Privacy and self-disclosure in the digital age
  • Integrating communications across digital platforms
  • Managing and monitoring social media
  • Faith storytelling with visual social media
  • Hashtag development and live-tweeting.

The Unstuck Church:
Equipping Churches to Experience Sustained Health.
Tony Morgan.
Pbk. 224pp. ISBN 9780718094416.
Thomas Nelson (2017).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Morgan unpacks each phase of the church lifecycle, and offers specific and strategic next steps the church leader can take to find its way to sustained health… and finally become unstuck.

The Unstuck Church is a call for honest an assessment of where your church sits on the lifecycle, and a challenge to move beyond it.

Think about your church for a moment. Is it growing? Is it diminishing? Is it somewhere in between? Morgan has identified the seven stages of a church’s lifecycle that range from the hopeful and optimistic days of launch, to the stagnating last stages of life support.

Regardless of the stage in which you find your church, it carries with it the world’s greatest mission—to “go and make disciples of all the nations…” With eternity at stake the Church should be doing most everything within its power to see lives changed forever. The Church should strive for the pinnacle of the lifecycle, where they are continually making new disciples and experiencing what Morgan refers to as “sustained health.”


Transcending Generations:
A Field Guide to Collaboration in Church.
Meredith Gould.
Pbk 152pp. ISBN.9780814645628

Liturgical Press. (2017).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

A guide for church leaders seeking to communicate and collaborate with adults of all ages –beyond generations.

In short, easy-to-read chapters and with her characteristic wit, Gould challenges readers to think in more nuanced ways about age to remove false barriers. Readers are guided through practical ways to move forward together while honouring authentic differences. Includes questions for individual inquiry and group discussion.

Transforming Church in Rural America:
Breaking All the Rurals.
Shannon O’Dell.
Pbk 200pp. ISBN 9780892216949.

New Leaf Publishing Group (2010).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Small church buildings dotting the countryside are home to ministries that often struggle with limited attendance, no money, and little expectation that change can revitalise their future. Pastor Shannon O’Dell shares a powerful vision of relevance, possibility, and excellence for these small churches, or for any ministry that is stuck in a “rural state of mind.”

Discover effective structure and ways to cast God-given vision so others can follow and make an impact. Experience the blueprint for transforming into effective, dynamic, and thriving churches no matter where the location or how small it may be.

When the Tui Calls:
Rural Ministry – Origins and Futures.
Bill Bennett.
Pbk 64pp. ISBN 9781927260708.
Philip Garside Publishing Ltd (2017).
[In stock]

Click here for eBook editions

This extended essay on rural ministry reflects on its long evolution, its current challenges, and its continuing viability for the future in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Tui (Parson Bird), with its tuft of white feathers at the neck, is highly adaptive, has a distinctive call, is protective of its domain, is an imitator of song and speech and is an enduring example of survival and adaptability.

Bennett highlights some key issues and opportunities for rural ministry today.

Small, Strong Congregations:
Creating Strengths and Health for Your Congregation.
Kennon L Callahan.
Pbk 352pp. ISBN 9781118594261
Jossey-Bass (2012).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

A common-sense guide to the rich possibilities for the future where leaders, pastors, and the grassroots of small congregations work together to develop a healthy, constructive approach to their mission.

Written to be a hands-on guide, Small, Strong Congregations offers practical suggestions for:

  • creating mission and service
  • compassion and shepherding
  • community and belonging
  • self-reliance and self-sufficiency
  • worship and hope
  • teams and leaders
  • space and facilities, and
  • giving and generosity.

This wise resource is filled with illustrative examples that show clearly how myriad small churches have created solid, vigorous congregations.

God of the Whenua:
Rural Ministry in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Bill Bennett.
Pbk 132pp. ISBN 9780958268202.

Philip Garside Publishing Ltd (2005).
[In stock].

Click here for eBook editions

Bennett develops a theology of land in Aotearoa New Zealand, and a theology of mission and ministry that may be seen as a starting point for all who minister in rural areas. He flags the issues and developments that the rural church is facing and will meet in coming years.

With an ecumenical scope, Bill Bennett looks in depth at the traditional churches that still maintain a rural presence and their ministries — Methodist, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Anglican. He includes revealing profiles of several parishes and rohe (Maori districts). While he writes from a Pakeha perspective, Bennett also honours the unique theology and flavour of the Maori church.

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