Rural Ministry: Matching Assets to Opportunities

By Lori Kiehl

As the Mark Twain District Lay Leader, I want to invite you to North Missouri to engage with problem solvers of small rural churches. The Mark Twain District’s Rural Ministry Now conference is meeting the challenge of helping rural churches thrive by providing training to church leaders on Saturday, February 17 at the Northeast Missouri Fairgrounds in Kirksville from 8:30 am to 4 pm. The focus will be “Missional Engagement: Matching Assets to Opportunities.”

We will discuss ways to match passions, skills, and talents within our churches to the opportunities for mission around us. Join us as we:
  • Learn the “how-to” of asset-based community development within the framework of our rich Methodist tradition of engagement in our communities
  • Celebrate the strengths of our communities and discuss ways to communicate positive stories about our churches
  • Explore asset-based community development
    • Assessing the skills and passions of congregations, and how they can be gifts to the community
    • Turning outward to identify challenges and opportunities in our communities
    • Applying a congregation’s assets and passions for community mission projects
  • Discover missional engagement is more powerful in collaboration.
It is important to join with others in this connectional system of Methodist churches. By coming together we will be blessed by the speakers of the North Carolina Rural Center, one of the oldest and most experienced organizations in the country dedicated to advancing the quality of life for rural people. This group has received a Duke Endowment grant to focus their efforts on giving small churches tools that will make a difference. Register online at or on the Mark Twain District website. 

This event is ideal for my small rural church which has an average attendance of 30 each Sunday. We have gone through self-evaluation and goal setting, and we do activities for all ages. Learning at a district wide event is a way to renew the passion for doing the Great Commission our Lord has given us to: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” 

By connecting with other believers that are passionate about growth and new ideas, we do not feel so alone in ministry. Small churches are extended families and just like a family, a church goes through times of closeness and times of dysfunction. Positive places of worship attract others. However, negative encounters are why some people no longer attend. I challenge you to invite those in your church that stop things from happening as well as those in your church that make missions happen to this event. Regardless of the church size, there are not enough leaders and there are not enough encouragers. 

Rural Ministry Now’s February 17 event at NEMO fairgrounds is a great opportunity to learn to grow our church by becoming more outward focused and positive. Strengthen your team and your mission by attending this event!
Lori Kiehl is a District Lay Leader for the Mark Twain District. She attends Meadville UMC, leading Sunday School and playing the piano for worship. She leads the Linneus UMC after school program for children 1-12 grades each Wednesday. She is a board member for Camp Jo-Ota.