EQUIPPING MEN TO LEAD HEALTHY RURAL CHURCHES
From the very beginning, God had a purpose for His creation: to spread His glory across the Earth. He wanted people, created in His image, to be fruitful, multiply, fill the Earth, and subdue it. God was to be uniquely glorified through the spread of image-bearing, dominion-exercising people across the planet. Jesus later reinforced this mission when He told His followers to go out and make disciples all over the world (Matthew 28:18-20).
At The Brainerd Institute for Rural Ministry, we're on a simple mission: to honor God's plan through the strengthening and expansion of rural churches. We know that these churches play a vital role in God's eternal plan because they make a statement about His glory that goes beyond a community all the way to the heavens (Ephesians 3)! Our aim is to help rural churches be healthy, strong, and true to God's Word.
We are committed to equipping men to lead healthy rural churches by providing training and resources in 4 key areas:
Sufficiency of Scripture
God has provided everything we need through His Word, which is alive, active, and powerful! Many well meaning Christians and churches have exchanged a mere confidence in God's Word for a more pragmatic approach. We aim to help foster reliance on God's Word by helping churches cultivate a culture of discipling, a regular diet of expository preaching, the practice of Biblical counseling, and the pursuit of faithfulness rather than visible results.
One of the greatest challenges rural churches face is a lack of qualified leaders. We help churches recover the Biblical standard for church leadership while focusing on the development of a plurality of qualified elders and deacons who equip the saints, train the next generation, and nurture a unified congregation.
Many churches are filled with men and women who have not rightly understood the gospel. We want to help rural churches regain a proper understanding of the Biblical gospel. Churches and Christians who are gripped by the gospel will respond earnestly to the call to proclaim Christ in their circle of accountability. It is our goal to help believers work together to saturate a region with the gospel so that every man, woman, and child in a given geography has repeated opportunities to hear and respond to the gospel.
Pastors and the churches they lead often overlook the importance of long pastoral tenure. One of the reasons for short pastorates is the neglect of pastoral health. We desire to help men in ministry maintain intimacy with God, rhythms of rest, mentoring relationships, strong family leadership, and Biblically informed longings. We further aim to ensure that pastors are compensated in a way that enables them to thrive in ministry.
"Many rural residents feel overlooked and invisible."
— Stephen Witmer
A Big Gospel in Small Places
The Brainerd Institute for Rural Ministry is committed to the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom in rural places. Our passion for seeing churches established and strengthened in remote parts of the world compels us to serve rural churches while equipping others for rural ministry. At Brainerd Institute, we are committed to connecting, training, and recruiting men and women for the work of gospel ministry in rural places.
Rural ministry can be lonely work. Pastors and ministry leaders are often separated by many miles from their peers. Many experience cultural isolation because they are perceived as an “outsider.”
The Brainerd Institute connects pastors and ministry leaders through local “Equip” gatherings designed to encourage and sharpen those called to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).
“Equip” pastors are reminded that the church they serve in is not isolated but critically connected for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom in their region. They work together to reach the lost, pray for one another, and minister in their communities.
We believe these connections are critical for the health of local rural pastors and the Church's effectiveness in each region.
Our generation is blessed to have an abundance of easily accessible resources to help men preparing for or engaging in pastoral ministry.
Still, there are few opportunities for training in rural places. The high cost of travel, a full schedule, and a desire to avoid urban areas often prevent rural church leaders from receiving the training they need.
Many rural pastors have received little or no formal training. Others find it difficult to apply the concepts taught by leaders from more populated regions to their rural context.
The Brainerd Institute for Rural Ministry serves rural pastors by offering high-quality training in rural places from a rural perspective. This includes a pastoral residency program, regional workshops, Rural Pastor's Talk Podcast, consultations, articles, and advice for pastors and churches.
Locations with modest populations are often overlooked by men entering pastoral ministry. While cities have rightly been identified as strategic locations for churches, we are convinced it is important to have a vibrant, healthy, multiplying presence of the church wherever Christ's people live.
The Brainerd Institute advocates for the rural church, appealing to men to consider the need in remote places. Our desire is to see new churches planted and existing churches strengthened as pastors respond to the call to serve the rural church.
Through the Rural Pastor's Talk Podcast, an active presence on college and seminary campuses, hosting regional events, and networking, we seek to make this need known and assist men who are willing to serve in rural places.
Following his conversion to Christ in 1739, David Brainerd was enthusiastically constrained to the work of Gospel ministry. He pursued theological training at Yale University until a careless remark about one of his instructors (for which he later apologized and repented) led to his expulsion.
Since Connecticut law required ministers to obtain a degree from Harvard, Yale, or a European institution, Brainerd’s expulsion prevented him from becoming a pastor in his home state. In His sovereignty, God used this turn of events to lead Brainerd to accept the charge to become a minister to Native Americans living in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Under his tutelage, many Native Americans professed faith in Christ, received Baptism, and established churches throughout the region. Less than four years after his ministry began, David Brainerd died of tuberculosis. He left behind detailed journals (which Jonathan Edwards compiled and published) detailing his conversion, call to ministry, and service to Christ’s church in the rural Northeastern United States.
The work of Christ so moved David Brainerd in His own life that he was willing to serve His Savior no matter the cost. He did not require a large city, an established church, or any earthly comforts. His sole passion was to see the Kingdom of Christ expand to the most remote regions of his day.
Although Brainerd's ministry was short, the effects of his work are still felt. His life and ministry serve as the inspiration for the Brainerd Institute for Rural Ministry. We pray that many men, constrained by their love for Christ, will devote themselves to the spread of the Gospel and the advancement of the church in rural places around the world.
The Brainerd Institute for Rural Ministry exists to help advance Christ's Kingdom in rural places because rural ministry matters.