“THE first challenge is recognising that each rural area is distinctive. Central church bodies tend to view rural churches through urban or suburban lenses. This is to the detriment not only of the life and mission of rural churches, but also, paradoxically, to that of urban and suburban churches.

People move to and holiday in rural areas in search of a life that is different from urban living. If such differences are not recognised by the wider Church, and reflected in its strategies, then the imagination and countercultural insights to be found in rural ministry will be missed, and the rural church viewed as eccentric and irrelevant.

Alienated and misunderstood, relationships are strained as rural churches question the central Church’s relevance. It was worrying to read in a recent review of the Church’s Mission and Pastoral Measure (GS Misc 1312) that some of those interviewed argued that “the interests of the parish are not the interests of the diocese.” As the management guru Peter Drucker warns, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.'”

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