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Cultivating long-term, faith-honoring change takes planning and preparation. These resources offer tips, strategies, and guides to begin the work of transforming your community.

Transform Your Community

>> Rural Faith Community Action Guide - Developed for rural congregations at the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University, this guide offers a step-by-step process to develop plans and strategies to engage with challenges in your community.  

>> 50 Ways to Take Faith Based to the Community  - The Lewis Center for Church Leadership offers 50 simple tips to extend your congregation's missions into the community.

>>Discovering Community Power: A Guide to Mobilizing Local Assets and Your Organization's Capacity - Create detailed reports around 14 different topic areas. Simply enter your county or state, and download the report.  

>>Rural Churches, Rural Communities, Rural Missions- This essay by the Allen Stanton, Executive Director of the Turner Center, offers strategies for thinking about community development in rural areas.

>>Mental Health Guides for Faith Leaders - These guides provide accessible information for faith leaders engaging with mental health in their communities.  

>>Faith Based Health Ministries - The TN Department of Health offers these guides for building faith-based healthcare ministries in your community.

>>Faith Based Substance Abuse Recovery - Rural areas are especially impacted by substance abuse. The TN Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse offers numerous resources for congregations who want to engage in ending substance abuse.

Rural spaces deserve leaders who think deeply about our communities and what Faith might be creating in them. These resources help us rethink our rural mission, including several resources from The Turner Center's Executive Director, Rev. Allen Stanton.

Rethinking Rural

>> Fixing the Narrative: Indicators of Vital Rural Congregations - This reference guide helps rural congregations to plan goals and measuring progress towards vitality.

>> Ben Winchester: Rewriting the Rural Narrative - Ben Winchester, Research Fellow at the University of Minnesota Extension, reminds us that the narrative of decline in rural America is often mistaken.  

>>Lewis A. Parks and Doug Powe: Leading in the Small Church or Multi-Church Settings- This podcast, from The Lewis Center for Church Leadership's LeadingIdeas Talks offers wisdom about leading vital ministries in small, rural communities.

>>Essays on Rural Ministry at Faith and Leadership
- These short essays by Allen Stanton offer reflections on the joys, hopes, and opportunities of leading rural congregations.

>> Art of the Sermon: Ministry in Rural Communities - In this podcast, The Art of the Sermon interviewed Allen Stanton on rural ministry.

>>Rethinking Economic Development - This article explores a theology of economic and community development, using stories from rural congregations.

Our rural communities have both unique challenges and unique gifts. The resources below can help you discover the needs of your community, changes in your economy, and the shifting demographics, and the gifts of your community. Knowing your context is the first step to creating meaningful change.

Know Your Context

>> Tennessee County Profile Tool - Quickly find create a profile of your county or region, highlighting population, education, and economic stats. Offered by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. ​

>> 211 Counts for Middle Tennessee- See the most requested needs in your zip code, county, or electoral district in real time. Operated by United Way of Middle Tennessee. ​

>>Headwaters Economics Profile System - Create detailed reports around 14 different topic areas. Simply enter your county or state, and download the report.

>>Center for Economic Research in Tennessee- Find detailed reports about the opportunities and challenges facing TN, authored by the TN Department of Economic and Community Development.

>>Tennessee State Report Card - Quickly find information about your local schools with this tool from the TN Department of Education. ​

>>Tennessee Health Rankings - Learn more about Tennessee's health with these resources from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Turner Center has launched our new series, "Leading During COVID19." Each episode features an interview with experts, thinking with faith leaders on leading during challenging times. You can also visit and watch on our youtube channel.


In our first episode, we sit down with Mark House, an experienced leadership coach, to talk about leading through uncertainty.

Our second episode features Meghan Killingsworth, a pastor in Sanford, Florida, to think about the strengths, opportunities, and challenges of the small church.

In our third episode of "Leading During COVID19," we're joined by Glenn Stallsmith, a rural pastor and ThD student at Duke Divinity School. Glenn shares about how rural congregations can be adaptive, theologically grounded, and creative in their worship.

How do churches still practice missions and evangelism during unusual times? Rev. Dr. Laceye Warner joins us to think about the our theological practices, and what history can teach us. Dr. Warner is the Royce and Jane Reynolds Associate Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Methodist Studies at Duke Divinity School, and the Associate Dean for Wesleyan Engagement.

Check out her books here:

Saving Women: Retrieving Evangelistic Theology

From Relief to Empowerment: How Your Church Can Cultivate Sustainable Mission

Leading During COVID19 - Episode 5: Preaching with Rev. Racquel Gill

Rev. Racquel Gill is the Assistant Chaplain for Multicultural Community Engagement at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. Rev, Gill has been widely recognized for her preaching, and has preached in small, large, urban, and rural congregations. Rev. Gill joins us to talk about preaching during a pandemic.
Books mentioned in this episode:

Rev. Dr. Luke Powery:

Renita Weems:

Barbara Brown Taylor: