Oftentimes, when we think about bringing the church to new places, the appeal of planting in a busy city center that reaches lots of people comes to mind. So, rural places like Dauphin, Manitoba, with a population of about 8,500, are rarely considered sites for exciting new expressions of church.
“The truth,” agrees pastor and leader Owen Scott, “is that rural churches are dying.” Whether it’s urbanization or secularization, churches in rural hubs are struggling. Either financially they can’t stay afloat, or they slide into unhealthy patterns as growth slows to a crawl. “But,” Scott adds, “Jesus hasn’t abandoned the rural church.”
Owen and his wife Amanda are deeply passionate about Jesus’ love for the rural church, so much so that they are moving their young family to Dauphin this summer. Their church family, Prairie Alliance Church, has felt called to establish healthy expressions of church in rural hubs across Manitoba and Northwest Ontario.
The Scotts experienced a personal sense of calling that has deepened with visits to this rural community, about 2.5 hours north of where they live currently. Owen says, “Amanda and I have fallen in love with the community of Dauphin. We’ve seen that there are a significant number of people in Dauphin who have experienced church in a way that has damaged their relationship with Jesus. We’ve also observed significant gaps in the demographics of people in the church in Dauphin. We believe that we’ve been called to Dauphin for two specific things: to see people restored to wholeness and relationship with Jesus, and to see young families find meaningful connection to Jesus and the church.”
Currently, Owen and Amanda are in a pre-launch phase. Their home is on the market, and they are preparing their family to move in July. They are also in the midst of planning several community events like movie nights to help them and their launch team connect with the broader community in Dauphin and meeting regularly with the launch team for encouragement and training.
If you want to stay connected to what’s happening in this New Venture in Dauphin, you can sign up for their newsletter here. If you’d like to learn more or join Jesus at work in this town, visit newventurescanada.com/pacdauphin.
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