Imagine your commute to work, or school, or the grocery store. Anywhere you tend to drive on a regular basis. Now tell me how many churches you pass on that drive. Honestly, I live in a large metro area and I couldn’t even begin to give you a number. Lets just say it’s a lot. Odds are, you’re in the same situation, and you hardly even notice all those churches, unless you happen to be looking for a new one to attend. Rest assured, however, you will always have options, and your community will always have the benefit of an active faith community. Anyone seeking a Godly influence has only to choose what door to walk into, and they will be met with open arms.
Now I want you to imagine a commute in which you did not see a single church. Well, maybe one, but it’s closed. There is no pastor at community events. Weddings, funerals, and baptisms have to be held out of town, and it’s quite a drive to attend church in a different community each week. Anyone not currently dedicated to attending services is rather unlikely to make the drive to go to a church they’ve never attended.
If you live in a rural community it may be you’ve already experienced this. Many small towns across America are struggling, and congregations find that they cannot support a full time minister, which often eventually leads to the church closing its doors.
This is where Village Missions comes in. The organization exists to “glorify Jesus Christ by developing spiritually vital churches in rural North America”, and as part of this mission they work with churches and missionary pastors to provide full time pastoral care and open church doors in communities that may not have access to a Bible believing church or minister without their help.
Intrigued? You should be! 25% of America’s next generation of parents (18-29 year olds) currently do not claim any religious affiliation. North America is currently the only continent in which Christianity is not growing. Many news articles have recently been examining the difficulties faced by rural communities due to the lower populations and hard economic times, and these challenges are being felt within church bodies as well. In declining congregations that may consist of only 10-20 faithful few, there may not be enough capital to support a full time pastor and his family.
Possibly the best way to explain the impact a missional pastor can have on their community is to let you read their stories. http://www.village-missions.org/about/stories/
Perhaps one of the most exciting new developments at Village Missions right now is based on discipling church goers and pastors alike through intensive study. Contenders Bible School is a tuition free program that allows pastors to disciple those in their churches as they study Biblical truth. The course is set up as a two year, once a week program. Class topics include Old & New Testament, Pastoral Ministry, Communications, and Systematic Theology. The classes are combined with discipleship and mentoring that is designed to develop Christians into leaders in their churches and communities. Contenders has existed for years, and is led by Pastor Ron Sallee of Machias Community Church, but this is the first time there will be a concerted effort to introduce the program on a more widespread level in Village Missions churches. Prayers and financial contributions would surely be a blessing as they continue to set the groundwork for this exciting new initiative.
For the inquiring mind that just has to know how it all works….
In a nutshell, churches must be able to pay their own bills and provide housing for a missionary pastor in the form of parsonage or rental. The missionary completes the Village Missions application and training process, and is then assigned to the church. Salary is based on a sliding scale, and Village Missions works with the church to pay the base rate. Missionaries also raise support to help them offset costs. Once at the church, the missionaries are encouraged to take part in Fellowship groups with other VM ministers, and are also supported by Regional Directors, all of whom have served in the pastoral capacity with Village Missions. Aside from regular church and pastoral duties, Village Missions requires all missionaries to spend at least 50% of their time in the community, ensuring that there is active involvement and participation by a missionary within the community.
If you are interested in blessing Village Missions with a financial contribution, desire to learn more about becoming a missionary, or would just like to connect with someone to learn more, you can check them out on FB (search Village Missions), the web (www.village-missions.org) or connect with Tim Griffiths, Director of Stewardship, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks go out to Tim Griffiths for taking the time to sit down and chat with me about who Village Missions is and what they do!
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