Something Fresh in the Country
Last week I got to be Phil’s fill-in. This landed me at a meeting of denominational leaders hosted by Jeromey Martini of Horizon College. The subject: Rural Church Renewal. The guests: Nathan Wesslake, Lead Pastor, and the ministry team, from Prairie Alliance Church (PAC) in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The story: their journey with the Holy Spirit these past number of years.
Following the Spirit, their church found themselves led to pray four prayers – prayers they continue to pray together regularly. One of those involved becoming a multi-site church focused on “rural hubs,” mid-sized prairie towns that function as centres serving a larger rural area. Five years ago, they began their first site in Neepwa (about an hour from Portage) and now have sites in Dauphin, MB and Dryden, ON, and they continue to discern where God may be leading next.
Their four prayers, along with seven core values, orient and unite the congregations. Also key in bringing them together has been a shared four week rhythm for their gatherings. Based on the description of Christians in Acts 17:6 as those who had “turned the world upside down,” PAC sites together follow a monthly cycle of “Up” (relationship with God), “Side” (relationships with on another), “Down” (serving others), and “Party” (fellowship). This, together with the use of video-streaming sermons (every other week) and shared stories and testimonies, brings cohesion and a sense of belonging despite the hundreds of kilometers that separate the sites.
Each site has a campus pastor who serves as a PAC staff member. A centralized board and church budget help to ease the burden many smaller rural churches face. Strategic investments from the Christian and Missionary Alliance district have also played a role in supporting PAC through this time of structural and missional change.
It’s a new way of thinking about rural church ministry – an approach that is helping to bring fresh life, energy and sustainability for the church beyond our larger urban centres. The PAC ministry team expressed a keen interest in being a resource for other churches across the prairies. I encourage you to check out Prairie Alliance Church on the web and social media. Hearing their experience has challenged me as a leader in rural church. What fresh winds might be blowing, Lord?
SKMB Developmental Leadership Team
A Word from the DM
Hello SKMB Family,
We are good news people in bad news time! I don’t need to editorialize the gongs-on all across Canada when it comes to protests, counter protests, finger-pointing and ‘giving of the finger’. It’s all so sad, frankly. We are seeing before us fallen human beings in a corrupt culture playing out base instincts. As followers of Jesus, we should be weeping for the lostness of Canada. That being said, as good news (Gospel) people, we have before us an incredible opportunity:
- Live as the redeemed new creations we are to be as followers of Jesus (John 3:16; Matthew 22:37ff)
- Pray for Canada and it’s leaders – nationally, provincially and in our municipalities (2 Timothy 2:1-3)
- Share the peace, joy and hope of the Gospel and make disciples (Matthew 28:19ff)