Three weeks out from their annual summer Scripture Union Family Mission (SUFM) trip to Buli, Campbelltown City Baptist Church (CCBC) got a call from the caravan park saying they’d accidentally double booked the site and were cancelling the booking. The team of 50 had already planned and prepared a full program of activities, programs and events, and they didn’t want to waste all their prayerful preparation.

Martin Kennedy, Youth Pastor at CCBC, called Andrew (‘Parko’) Parkinson, Associate Director of Training and Equipping with Scripture Union NSW, to explore what it would mean to pivot to a Rural Partnership Mission. Parko contacted Graham Trevor, a retired pastor who is now part of the leadership team at Narromine Baptist Church. Parko started to explain that there was a team from CCBC that might be interested in… Graham interrupted to say “yes” – straight away – no questions asked.

Narromine, a small town west of Dubbo, is a tough town to do ministry in. With more than its fair share of social problems, drug use and crime, the small churches made up of primarily elderly members knew they desperately needed help.

Three days later Martin and Parko were in Narromine talking with leaders from the local churches. The churches were overwhelmingly welcoming, and looking for ways they could help bring the trip together and support the young adults who were about to run this outreach in their town.

Parko went to Narromine Shire Council three hours before they closed for Christmas, and even the Council was excited to have this influx of volunteers and activity in their town. The staff frantically helped Parko get the approvals and find keys they needed. Coastal SUFMs are experiencing increasing resistance from communities, councils and caravan parks, but in rural towns like Narromine there’s enthusiasm from the local community.

The team slept in the Baptist Church and Generosity Church, ate meals at the Baptist Church, and set up their big marquee in the carpark of the Generosity Church, which was on the main street. With no opportunity to advertise or prepare, the team spent the first two days praying, door-knocking and putting up posters.

It was a huge success.

The team ran children’s programs in the mornings, and people from the local churches would come at the start and end of the program to connect with parents. The team also ran community events in the evenings, including a movie night in a local park and an inflatable waterslide on the local oval.

As a result of the ten-day mission trip, many parents in Narromine have connected with their local churches. Parents and grandparents have been coming to Narromine Baptist Church and have brought the children. The church has now started a Sunday school – something they had been praying about for years.

“A big advantage of rural missions is the follow up,” says Parko, “the team will come from far away but will work with the local churches to reach the local people. When the team goes to the churches and the people remain and those relationships can continue to grow.”

The team from CCBC were so happy with the success of their mission, they plan to come back each year. CCBC now has a Beach Mission to Buli in the summer holidays, and a Rural Partnership Mission to Narromine in the winter holidays.

“My heart for this is that these partnerships will be long term,” reflects Parko, “because the churches and the town are always there. The people that come out each year build friendships and a long term partnership can develop between local rural towns and churches, and the sending teams and people.”

Parko worked as a Baptist pastor for over 30 years and has lived and worked in rural NSW for seven years. He has a passion for ministry in small country towns. These churches often have smaller, older congregations that can struggle to connect with their communities.

“Many rural churches are shrinking and aging,” reflects Parko.

When Parko asks rural churches what their biggest need is, their reply is inevitably “people”. So, Parko has been championing Rural Partnership Mission, where city churches partner with rural churches to run outreach missions in rural communities.


If your church is interested in exploring the possibility of a Rural Partnership Mission, you can contact Parko at


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