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Rural Emerging Church?

4 April, 2004 7:30 PM

Tasmania is a beautiful state of Australia. It has some incredible wilderness areas, beautiful beaches, amazing produce and the people are very relaxed and friendly. It is rather cold (most southerly part of Australia and closest to the south pole) but a good wood log fire fixes that quickly enough. I'm having a great time - home tomorrow on a morning flight. Will update more then. However in the mean time I have a question for your Emerging Church people.

Friday night I flew into Launceston and was met by my host Ben who with his family have been here in Tasmania for almost 10 years working as a church planter/missionary/church consultant. His family is originally from the US.

In Launceston I had a great dinner with a number of people from that region who are interested in missional church models. I got to share the journey of the Livingroom over that meal and answered quite a few questions. They were very open to what I had to say and were really grappling with some meaty missional issues. One of the questions raised was about planting such churches in rural areas which present their unique pressures. For example in a town where everyone already knows everyone (and everyone�s business) and where there are only a few small churches already - there are challenges in starting something new and different.

It got me to thinking about the variety of emerging missional churches that I know of and as I think about it � they are all in urban or suburban contexts. Is there anyone out there doing something new and �emerging� in a rural area? Some of the group last night were trying to birth something and I�d love to be able to encourage them with the story of another group/s. If you know of any could you please let me know below in comments or via my contact page.



Hi. My name's James, and while I have no existing emerging church to report on, I am in the very earliest stages of developing an interactive house-church here in Kingaroy, Queensland, where I have been living for four months after moving from Rockhampton. Kingaroy is supposedly one of the most go-ahead of all rural regional centres, and has a population of about 12,000. The church scene is small, and perhaps country values will make it more difficult to find acceptance for emerging-church type innovation, but the response will only be seen once I make my vision known more widely.

However, one innovative existing expression of church very near here is one run by Tim Kelly, of Rodeo Cowboy Ministries, who lives in the Goodger area about a dozen kilometres south of Kingaroy. I met him in my capacity as a journalist for the South Burnett Times, covering a story on his saddle bronc riding tuition for Toowoomba high school students. He runs a cell church that consists of cell meetings in two locations on Monday nights - one at Goodger and one at Jandowae. But the really interesting part is that on Wednesday nights he holds an open rodeo practice at his property from 7pm-10pm - preceded by an outreachy "cowboy church" running 6pm-7pm, which is open to anyone attending the rodeo practice, but not compulsory. He said the cowboy meeting attracts about 30 people. I believe some of those attending the rodeo practice come from over 100km away (if I remember correctly).

James » 4 April, 2004 10:22 PM

I've been starting an emerging community within a house of graduate students at the Unviersity of Illinois - and I think there may be some analagous issues to being the emerging church there as there is to being in a rural community.

When it comes to "knowing everyone and everyone's business," living in a house together is a good place to do that. One of our fundamental issues in this is to help people see themselves and one another through the eyes of Christ. They *think* they know one another. And, given that our house is theoretically Christian, they *think* they love each other and God. And in many respects they do.

We began to overcome this shallowness and disconnection in relationships by creating community within the greater community. Two of us, being "natives" to the house culture, began living a community lifestyle focused on service to Jesus Christ. As the weeks and months have worn on, others, inspired by our lives, have begun to either join us or begin to apply our principles and lifestyle in their churches, etc.

Note, however, that when we said we created community within the greater community that we did not say that we created *a* community within the greater community. We live out community in the presence of the greater community as members of the greater community - we model it.

Through this, our historical divisions and pettiness has begun to fade - our politics, our territorialism, our "not my job" mentality is beginning to give way to a new sense of being-in-community: the community of love in Jesus Christ.

Matt » 6 April, 2004 11:41 AM

Darren, let me know if you come across anything interesting with regards a rural context - we're more rural than urban here...so we've got some unique challenges that I haven't seen reflected all that well in what is emerging - the conversations / networks etc.

Paul » 6 April, 2004 5:43 PM

I am an emergent church member in Kansas City, Missouri in the states looking to relocate to Launceston Tasmania for a while. We were hoping to find a church with a similar emergent background in Launceston. Does anyone know is one exists there?

Rob » 8 April, 2004 1:02 AM

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