The bestselling Church of England report, "Mission-Shaped Church" is having a profound effect on the way local churches view themselves and their futures, yet its focus is very urban. Not only that, it was critiqued by John Hull as lacking in any new theological insights into the task of mission.
Alan Smith, bishop of the rural diocese of Shrewsbury, responds to both of these issues in this theological and practical exploration of mission drawing on what is happening in the rural church.
Part One explores some of the issues facing the church today, especially in rural areas, and some theological strands in the New Testament that underpin the way we go about mission. Part Two tells the stories of a range of new mission initiatives actually taking place in rural areas and identifies good practice. Part Three identifies opportunities for sustainable growth for churches - tourism, working in association with church schools, making the best use of church buildings, involvement in environmental issues. Part Four summarizes the way ahead for sustaining mission through developing appropriate leadership.
ALAN SMITH is the Bishop of Shrewsbury and a contributor to Changing Rural Life. He chairs a group of bishops including Graham Cray who are exploring the implications of episcopacy and leadership in a mission-shaped church.