Case studies of small rural churches participation in TKC 2018

Thousands of churches across the UK took part in Thy Kingdom Come. Here are a few case studies of smaller churches that were involved this year and some top tips for how to be involved as a small rural church.

Thousands of churches across the UK and worldwide participated in Thy Kingdom Come 2018. From big beacon events in urban settings - drawing thousands - to smaller rural gatherings with just ten people - churches of all shapes and sizes got involved. Churches in rural locations often have smaller congregation sizes and therefore do not have the capacity to host big beacon events or continuous prayer events such as 24/7 prayer. However, this can often present a fantastic opportunity to work more collaboratively and creatively during the 11 days of prayer.  Here are some top tips for being involved in Thy Kingdom Come as a smaller church and case studies of how this has been successfully done this year.

Top 5 tips for participation for small churches with limited resources:

Commit to doing 1 thing well then build on it:  For example – just focusing one event (24/1) or an activity such as morning and evening prayers.

Collaboration: This can be particularly helpful as a small church where resources are likely to be limited. By pooling together resources, there is potential for greater impact. Why not consider working with other local churches your area – especially those from other denominations?

Creativity:  Having a smaller congregation may mean there is not as much capacity to deliver activities, but this often leads to greater levels of creativity and resourcefulness. For example, why not try a creative variation on a traditional prayer service such as prayer walking or prayer stations or doing something completely new altogether?   

Community - focused: Thy Kingdom Come can be a wonderful opportunity to reach out to the wider community – whether visiting tourists or neighbours. Why not try incorporating something practical in your TKC activity which involves reaching out to the local community such as praying on the streets – around key community spaces - or inviting people for food and fellowship?

Combination:  Maybe you have limited time and resource to organise a completely new activity for Thy Kingdom Come, so why not try integrating it into existing church programmes? This could be adapting an existing corporate prayer time to have a focus on Thy Kingdom Come Focus or encouraging small groups to take part during the 11 days or incorporating it a traditional Pentecost Sunday service.

Although our focus was to pray for people we know to come to Christ, our Methodist friends set up several creative prayer stations focused on themes affecting our local community such as rural poverty, isolation and issues affecting the farming community.

Case study 1:  Rural churches working together (Anglican and Methodists)

 “We took part in Thy Kingdom Come last year but this time we were a lot more intentional and started planning earlier.

 On Ascension Day we kicked off with a joint communion service - all 3 small parish churches (each church with an average attendance of 20-25 people any given Sunday) and the local Methodist Church (with an average Sunday attendance of 20 people) who we often work alongside. It’s a real Gospel partnership not just in word but in action.

The opening day was packed with activities -  regular times of prayer and several times of food and fellowship! Although our focus was to pray for people we know to come to Christ, our Methodist friends set up several creative prayer stations focused on themes affecting our local community such as rural poverty, isolation, issues affecting the farming community and mental ill health.

 We also encouraged participants to go out into the streets and pray for people. Later in the evening we had a prayer walk - praying for key spaces in our community such as schools to pray for our young people, the village pub to pray for the wider community and the graveyard – to pray for those who are bereaved.

It was the perfect time of day to be out and about as many people – runners, cyclists and dog walkers were out and asked us what we were doing.

 The day ended with a lovely evening service and another community meal for all.

Throughout the 10 days we kept our activities quite low key though we did have a special Thy Kingdom Come Themed Messy Church service for families held at the Methodist Church on one of the days. For the finale, we held a big parish praise service on the Sunday – with people of all ages in attendance – it was wonderful.”

Revd Fiona Gibson - Vicar of three small churches near Bedford 

Case study 2: Thy Kingdom Come pilgrimage culminating in joint Pentecost Sunday & Christian Aid Week celebrations (Diocese of Sheffield)

 “In 2017 I planned 8 routes to cycle or walk to every parish in my archdeaconry, the equivalent of 100 miles of cycling, 72 miles of walking, and visiting more than 110+ churches in the process! The aim was to give every church in our diocese – no matter how small - an ‘excuse’ to be easily involved in Thy Kingdom Come!  During the 8-day journey, I met with people in most churches and engaged in a wide range of small events for Thy Kingdom Come.

This year, we arranged for Bishop Pete Wilcox to do 2 pilgrimage routes; the first of these covering rural deaneries -Tankersley & Wath - ending with an urban walk to the Cathedral. The second began in the tiny village of Firbeck, where we were joined by an astonishing 30 or so people for breakfast and prayer in a small church. That day ended with a Deanery Eucharist linking Thy Kingdom Come with Christian Aid Week, as the deanery celebrating raising £5k for development work, which received EU match funding to create a very significant £20k gift.”

Revd John Hibberd - Mission Development Adviser, Sheffield & Rotherham Archdeaconry

Christian Aid Week collection

Case study 3: ‘Taste and See’ Prayers – pooling resources together (Methodist Church & others)

 “During Thy Kingdom Come, our village Chapel, in Grandborough, (Warwickshire) opened for the week so other local churches could come and pray.  This was an exciting and anxious time for us as we only have seven members, so needed volunteers from other churches to help. One of these stewards parked on a nearby street rather than in the church car park which led to a local resident coming out to tell the steward to move their car. The volunteer steward used this encounter as an opportunity to talk about why the Church was open at this time and invited this neighbour along.  

Upon entering, the neighbour was drawn to one of the pictures on the wall and shared that she a similar picture at home. In her excitement, she rushed home to bring it back to church where it stayed for the whole week!

The lady has not returned to the Chapel since, but that instance has changed our relationship forever. At the Chapel, our mission is to pray for our community and each week we pray for a different street, road or close. We may be invisible but we are invaluable. Thy Kingdom Come Lord.”

Volunteer, Methodist Chapel in Grandborough, Warwickshire