Entering Rural Ministry: Rural Curiosity

Discover how to lead well in rural and small-town ministry.

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When you hear the word rural or small town, what comes to mind? Chances are you might imagine a scene out of an old TV show or maybe a recent story on the news that may not be a fair portrayal of what rural life is really like. There are plenty of stereotypes that have become ingrained in our imaginations. Maybe it’s time to imagine something better—something truer.

Because the truth is that each rural and small-town community is unique and made up of people who are ready to be known beyond stereotypes. It takes gaining skills in listening, leadership, spiritual practices, and more to serve in rural and small-towns well.

Developing the skills you need is possible! This course will equip you for leading in a rural or small-town call whether you are the pastor or a lay leader. If you’ve entered this kind of call, changed calls, or about to start a new one, then this is for you!

What You'll Learn

  • Cultivate a posture of curiosity equipped with skills in new ways of listening
  • Deepen your awareness and appreciation of rural contexts, cultures and congregations
  • Gain hope-filled and practical skills to inspire and bless through your leadership
  • Explore, develop, and refresh your spiritual practices to sustain your work

About this Course

  • Modules


  • Learning Elements


  • Videos


  • Practices & Activities


  • Time

8 hours, 30 minutes

  • Price


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Here's What's Inside...

Get oriented to the course, download the interactive handbook, and access the group to chat with others!

In this module, you will

  • Explore the overall course and some components of typical modules.
  • Hear the instructor’s vision for the course.
  • Participate in a spiritual practice.

In this module, you will

  • Reflect on the end of the last chapter of ministry and the beginning of a new one.
  • Develop strategies for listening well upon entering a new setting.
  • Pay attention and listen to the tender places from your departure and history.
  • Pay attention and listen to your congregation or community’s tender places.
  • Notice and build on assets that you find in yourself and your congregation or community.

In this module, you will

  • Engage the work of learning the history and exploring the memories of people in your call.
  • Build connections with local pastors of your tradition and ecumenical neighbors.
  • Visit with people who are shut-ins and elders, and explore their memory and stories about your new home congregation and community.

In this module, you will

  • Find ways to engage your curiosity about your new home.
  • Research in-person and online demographic information about your community.
  • Research about your congregation.
  • Ponder what the quantitative and qualitative research reveals.

In this module, you will

  • Lean into your calling to love your neighbor.
  • Consider rural under appreciation in the general culture and how you might affirm your location and people.
  • Explore appreciative inquiry and planning tools, and explore passing on the faith to all generations.

In this module, you will

  • Reflect on how you are loving God, yourself and others.
  • Consider your personal vocations—how you are called to build up God’s larger church and love God’s world.
  • Pray for people in your congregation as they serve in their everyday lives, and invite them to reflect on their callings.

In this module, you will

  • Invite others to pray about how God has gifted you and how you could develop your gifts to better serve God and your neighbors.
  • Visit with your congregation’s leaders to affirm, understand, and begin identifying possible apprentices.
  • Explore where you and your congregation are open to equipping people for ministry in daily life and in the life of the congregation.

In this module, you will

  • Record and test your initial hunches about strategic issues and planning with those in formal and informal congregational leadership roles.
  • Delineate various planning approaches.
  • Explore the strategic issues facing the congregation, its leaders, and you as you grow deeper into the system.

Find out your next steps as you complete the course and how to stay connected with your group. You'll also be able to submit feedback about your course.

You'll Learn How to Cultivate Community

Leading in a faith community, whether you are a pastor or not, requires skills in deep listening and being able to name God’s presence. It takes being able to form relationships across divides, both within the church and in the wider community. Entering Rural Ministry: Rural Curiosity will equip you to grow or refresh those very skills.

Curious? Try a free sample of the course, accessible by clicking on sample module below.

Gain Instant Access

Here's everything you get for just $55:

  • Ten (10) virtual modules you can enjoy at your own pace
  • Includes course videos, study materials, and instruction
  • A downloadable handbook
  • A safe place to learn and grow in your faith
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Meet Your Instructor

  • Jon Anderson

    Pastor Jon Anderson serves as Director of Rural Ministry at Luther Seminary. He recently completed eighteen years of service as bishop in the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA.

Connect as you learn

Connect inside the Faith+Lead Learning Lab

Learning happens best when you do it together with folks who are on the same journey as you are.

That's why our private social network, the Faith+Lead Learning Lab, hosts conversations about course content with other learners, instructors, TAs, and community leaders.

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Study together with a small group or congregation

Want to bring Entering Rural Ministry: Rural Curiosity to your Bible study, small group, or even your entire congregation?

Choose "Enroll a Group" at checkout and select how many people you'd like to provide access to the course. You can go through the course together in-person, watch lessons together via Zoom, or even create a private group in the Learning Lab where participants can connect asynchronously.

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