Why “Sister” congregations?
You hear us talk a lot about how many people live in rural America. One estimate is approximately 50,000,000 souls! That’s equal to the population of South Korea. We mention those figures to draw attention to the significant need of this mission field. But it’s not just the numbers. It’s deeper than that.
What once had the reputation of being the moral & religious bedrock of America is now shaken to the core. One example of its fractured morality is meth use. In a recent National Survey of Drug Use and Health it was reported that young adults (age 18 – 25) in rural areas used Meth nearly twice as much (2.9% v. 1.5%) as their urban counterparts. But deeper still, at the very foundation of rural America’s decline, is this: Christianity is losing its hold on the hearts of rural Americans and many rural churches are losing their vision to reach their communities. Churches of Christ are no less a part of this dismal assessment. Without a vision for the Kingdom, many are simply waiting for the Second Coming and many of those churches are literally dying off before His return. It’s time we pull together.
What are “Sister” congregations and what do they do?
“Sister” congregations are urban/suburban churches and rural churches that have formed a voluntary but intentional fellowship between them to more effectively reach the rural congregation’s community with the love of Jesus. By urban/suburban and rural churches working together the burgeoning spiritual needs of rural America can be more effectively met, the rural congregation receives spiritual encouragement and support (that is often absent outside of their immediate congregation), and the urban/suburban church has multiple opportunities to participate in domestic missions only minutes from their doorstep.
The possibilities are as many as faith can envision. Urban/suburban congregations could start with a concerted prayer focus for their rural “sister” congregation. One example would be special days of congregational prayer set aside specifically for the needs of their rural “sister” church. Another possibility is short-term “missions.” This would involve members from the urban/suburban congregation dedicating a few hours to a few days, depending on the activity and needs of the rural congregation, to join their sister congregation in a worship service, provide manpower for an outreach event, or simply spend time together in meaningful and supportive fellowship. Whatever the activity, each is an opportunity to build the Kingdom of God in those less traveled, but no less important back roads of America.
How does it work?
RAM works as a resource to “introduce” rural churches to their urban/suburban counterparts who share their desire to evangelize and revitalize their rural communities. As part of making these introductions, RAM meets with the leadership of interested churches to assess their needs, strengths and objectives. RAM then uses these assessments to make recommendations for “matches” between urban/suburban and rural churches and assists with arranging a meeting between the church’s leadership. It is then up to the leadership of both congregations to determine how their “sister” relationship can best support the ministry of the rural congregation. RAM is always available to assist in any way it can beyond this point if requested.
If you share RAM’s vision for evangelizing and revitalizing the rural communities of America by sharing the love of Christ through His word and compassionate action, and you would like more information on how your church can be a sister congregation to a rural church and its community, OR, if you are a rural congregation wanting to be matched with an urban/suburban church who will support you through prayer and short-term mission efforts in reaching your community with the love of Jesus, let us know. We are here to help!