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.

Sue’s story was produced by the
Evangelical Alliance with the support of
 

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