Rural Ministry

Rural Congregations

Rural congregations represent more than half of the congregations in our Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (ELCA). This means the health and vitality of these congregations is of significant importance to the church as a whole. Rural congregations matter! They are the church! 


Like individual raindrops that fall on the fields of North Dakota, each congregation has a unique context and place. Dozens of factors contribute to the look and feel of a particular congregation in a particular place. The age of the congregation; its history and ethnic background; the gifts of its present members; the community where it is planted; the focus of the community in terms of jobs and economy; the length of pastorates; and whether it's a single-point or multi-point parish are just some of the influences that gives a congregation its orientation and character. A key to fruitful ministry is acknowledging, celebrating, and using the gifts of a congregation's place and its people. 


We value and celebrate rural ministry in our synod and seek ways to come along side to encourage and support the congregational vitality of all STaR (small town and rural) congregations in our synod.

Rural Ministry Resources from Faith + Lead

where to get help

The stresses of farm and rural life are many, but help is available. The resources below have been curated especially with rural ministry in mind.

  • Farm to Farm offers therapy services and a variety of mental health resources for farm families, including telehealth appointments. Costs for therapy services to farmers and ranchers are offset by grant funds. 

  • North Dakota State University offers several resources on coping with, recognizing, and responding to farm stress. Their website has a variety of videos, podcasts, and publications relating to the mental health and wellbeing of farmers and rural communities. 

  • FirstLink is a free and confidential service for anyone in North Dakota or Minnesota seeking resources and support, including crisis support. Call their helpline at 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211 to speak with a specialist. You can also check out their online resource directory to find resources in your community. FIrstLink manages the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline as well. 

  • The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States. Dial 988 to be put in touch with a professional.