Small churches need someone to speak out for them. They need someone who will take a strong stand expressing the value that small churches all across Canada have. They need to have someone who will represent them wherever church leaders meet.
This is part of my vision for Small Church Connections. I have the opportunity of meeting with denominational, academic and church leaders across our county and in all of those conversations I try to present the message that small churches have tremendous value.
In my blog next week I want to talk more about what that involves but in this entry I want to talk about another very important voice for small churches.
Rural Church Pastors Network (RCPN)
Before I talk about this important movement I would invite you to go to their website at ruralchurchpastorsnetwork.com. There is a wealth of information there that I know you will enjoy.
RCPN is committed to small rural churches across Alberta and Saskatchewan with a dream of extending their ministry across Canada. It is my prayer that this will happen because there are scores of rural churches in every province that need the encouragement and support that RCPN will bring.
One of the things that they do is hold training events in rural settings to which pastors can come for mutual encouragement and learning. These have been very successful in Alberta and Saskatchewan and are part of what I would love to see spread to every other province.
I am writing this in Three Hills Alberta, home of Prairie Bible Institute. I’m excited for two reasons. The first is that Prairie was part of my childhood in that I had friends who had attended there and encouraged me to go. I am excited that almost fifty years after I first thought about attending, I am finally going to visit the college campus.
The second thing that has me excited is that I will be attending one of these events put on by the RCPN. I am looking forward to being with a group of small-church leaders and seeing first hand the impact that these events can have.
The potential loneliness of a rural pastor
For about sixteen years I served as a pastor in Toronto. There was no shortage of things to attend. Tyndale Seminary was only a couple of kilometers away from my house. I took courses there through most of those sixteen years. I experienced some of the mountain top experiences of my ministry life during those sixteen years because it was easy to be involved.
Then I moved to a small town in Southwestern Ontario. I served a wonderful church there. The people treated me so well. I saw some good things happen which was encouraging. I was part of a ministerial in the town where I lived. There was a lot that was really positive and I thank God for every day that I was there.
There was one thing though that I found difficult. I was remote enough that if I wanted to attend anything or take a course or just connect with people in my denomination, I had to travel several hours to get there. I was no longer at the center of the church world in Ontario. I was on the outer perimeter.
I found that difficult. There were many times when I would have loved to have sat down with some other pastors and spent some time talking.
I believe that there are a lot of pastors who love their churches and have no desire to move away from where they are but they feel the loneliness of a rural setting.
It is this need that RCPN is trying to fill with these events.
Small Church Connections is extremely pleased to announce that we are partnering with the Rural Church Pastor Network because I believe that their voice is a voice that needs to be heard. We will be promoting their events and helping them in any way possible as they expand across Canada. I look forward to exciting days ahead as we both try to strengthen the voice of small churches because we both believe that the small church needs to be heard.
Please pray for both organizations as we try to serve all of you who are part of small churches in Canada
Thank you, Ron, for your endorsement of and support for the RCPN. As one of those who began the RCPN five years ago, I must say that we appreciate your encouragement and (I think I speak for all of our leadership team when I say) we are excited about working with you as together we seek to offer hope, encouragement and support to those serving in small church settings all across Canada. Small churches are an integral part of their communities and of the spiritual life of our nation and – as one college president said to me – they are the place where many who lead in the Church first had the chance to “test their wings” as leaders. Very, very true!
So, Ron, thanks for your support and encouragement and we pray God’s blessing on you as you lead the ministry God has birthed in your heart.
Paul R. Warnock
PS. It was good to spend a few hours together yesterday. Thanks.
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