Fresh Expressions of the Rural Church

Learn to cultivate the extraordinary gifts of Christian community in the countryside with Fresh Expressions of the Rural Church by Tyler Kleeberger and Michael Beck.

The rural church was a community’s centerpiece. The place where people gathered to worship and hear a sermon, break bread together, and support each other through the joys and struggles of life with the land. In many ways, the rural church captured a central aspect of the church’s mission: to be the guiding hand for the life of a place.

Can rural congregations flourish again? Can new Christian communities succeed in rural areas? Could healthy rural churches catalyze a better future for their declining communities?

This book collects stories from the diversity of rural contexts across the US. It lays out a fresh theology for rural life and offers principles for harnessing the potential of what some consider the forgotten spaces. Each chapter includes a helpful Field Exercise—questions for discussion and suggested actions for leadership teams to work through together. Chapters conclude with a Field Story illustrating how the chapter’s main ideas can work in a real church setting.


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About the Authors

Michael Adam Beck

Michael Beck is Director of Re-Missioning for Fresh Expressions U.S. and Cultivator of Fresh Expressions for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Michael serves as co-pastor of Wildwood UMC with his wife Jill, where they direct addiction recovery programs, a jail ministry, a food pantry, an interracial unity movement and house a faith-based inpatient treatment center. Wildwood is a traditional congregation and a network of 13 fresh expressions that gather in tattoo parlors, dog parks, salons, running tracks, community centers and burrito joints. Michael earned a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in Semiotics and Future Studies at Portland Seminary. He is the author of Deep Roots, Wild Branches and A Field Guide to Methodist Fresh Expressions. Jill and Michael currently live in Wildwood. They have a blended family of eight children, four grandchildren and two pugs.


Tyler Kleeberger

Tyler Kleeberger is a church leader, writer, teacher, and community leader in Metamora, Ohio. He studied at Fuller Theological Seminary and leads The Farmhouse through connection, memory (honoring heritage – from barn parties and neighborliness to food emphasis and other more “traditional” components of church. His book (Abingdon, 2022) with Michael Beck is Fresh Expressions of the Rural Church. He publishes essays about building a better world on Medium through his channel, Becoming Human (