RHMA was conceived in the mind of Rev. C.J. Rediger while pastoring a church in Central Illinois in 1942. America was experiencing the early years of World War II and there was a major movement of population and emphasis from rural areas to the cities. Seemingly rural America was being abandoned by the Christian community. The spiritual health of the rural church suffered and church expansion in rural areas virtually came to a standstill.
Rev. Rediger was one of the few Christian leaders of that day who saw the problem and began to do something about it. He resigned from his pastorate and, together with his wife, began Bible studies, Sunday Schools, and Vacation Bible Schools. It soon became obvious that the time had come to form a permanent organization. In November, 1942, Rural Home Missionary Association was officially established and headquartered in Morton, Illinois.
Closed churches were reopened and restored to an effective ministry. New churches were started. In time the number of workers grew and the ministry spread from the Midwest to other parts of the USA. As RHMA was developing into an effective mission, it was one of the few reaching out to this overlooked part of American society.
Through the years RHMA has been able to have an impact on many different communities across the USA. Yet it remains true, and even more so today as many Americans are moving back to the small towns, that the need is still great. Thousands of communities across America are lacking an evangelical church.
Our purpose is two-fold: to plant and to strengthen churches in small-town America (usually towns of 5,000 or less). We want to do this in such a way that believers are equipped to serve the Lord effectively as He works through them to build His church.
It is not our purpose to duplicate the many efforts to plant churches in the larger towns and cities. RHMA plants and develops churches in a diversified and spiritually neglected non-urban society. From the deserts of Arizona to the forests of New York, from the southern drawl in Texas to the farmer's talk about weather in Minnesota, from a white-collar region in Connecticut to a ranching community in Nebraska, RHMA is there.
Our purpose as a church-planting agency is fulfilled as we apply biblical principles and objectives when moving into a community to establish a new church. Of first importance is evangelism which, we trust, will produce converts for the new church. These converts must then be discipled and trained in the use of their spiritual gifts so that they become useful servants in the Body of Christ. As this process continues, a congregation will naturally be formed. At this point the task of building the local congregation into a self-sustaining local church becomes the major emphasis.
Similar to our ministry of church planting is a ministry of strengthening small-town churches which might benefit from outside assistance. We apply many of the principles of church planting to these efforts — in fact, in many ways this is a new beginning (we like to call it a "re-start") for the church.
RHMA seeks to help strengthen small-town churches in other ways as well. We conduct conferences for small-town pastors, present workshops and seminars at pastors' gatherings, counsel with churches which seek our advice, have resources available that benefit the small-town pastor and church, and provide training for new pastors going into town/country settings.
RHMA's home office is well-located in the Central Illinois town of Morton — right at the juncture of north/south and east/west interstates, and with easy access to airports and train stations. Morton and the surrounding area is a very supportive community, with dozens of churches and hundreds of individuals providing financial and prayer support and volunteer assistance.
"Let this be written for a future generation..." Psalm 102:18
Our doctrinal beliefs are our foundation. All who are a part of RHMA — staff, missionaries, and members of the Board of Directors — are united around these core Biblical beliefs. They provide guidance for prospective staff and churches who are thinking about partnering with us. They help us lay a good foundation for our church plants. They help people decide if RHMA is an organization they want to support. They provide accountability — annually all who are a part of RHMA must sign a statement saying they are in agreement with them.
We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, inerrant in the original writings. We further believe that the Scriptures are the written revelation of God's will and the supreme and final authority for all faith and practice.
We believe there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each having precisely the same essence, attributes, and perfections.
The Lord Jesus Christ
We believe that Christ is fully God and fully man. We believe in His virgin birth, sinless life, miracles, perfect substitutionary sacrifice for the sin of the whole world, bodily resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father where He is the High Priest and Advocate for His people. We believe in the visible, personal, imminent, pretribulational return of Christ to receive His Church unto Himself. We believe in the subsequent premillennial coming of Christ, with His Church, to establish His promised kingdom on earth.
The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin. He is the agent in regeneration, at which moment He baptizes and seals the believer into the Body of Christ and immediately indwells him. We believe that the Holy Spirit fills the obedient believer with power so that he is able to live a life that is pleasing to God, and gives illumination and guidance to the believer so that he can maintain a proper Christian walk. We believe that the ascended Christ gives gifts through the sovereign will of the Holy Spirit for the edification and unity of the Body of Christ. We believe that such things as apostolic signs, prophetic utterances, and tongues are not normative for the Church in this present age.
We believe that man, in Adam, was created by God, in the image of God, but that he fell through sin and as a consequence is guilty before God — resulting in physical and spiritual death (spiritual death being separation from God). This sinful condition and resultant death has been transmitted to the entire human race (Christ being the only exception).
Since all of mankind is separated from God, it follows that all need to be reconciled to God. We believe this comes only by trusting in Christ alone, His substitutionary death, and His bodily resurrection on our behalf.
We believe that all who are reconciled to God are saved from spiritual death and are, from that time forward, kept by God's power. It is the privilege of the believer to rejoice in the assurance of his eternal salvation.
The believer's assurance does not give him the license to sin. To the contrary, we believe that all who are saved are called to a Spirit-filled life that strives to be separated from sin and is maturing in godliness.
We believe in the bodily resurrection of all mankind — believers to everlasting life in the presence of God, unbelievers to conscious and everlasting condemnation in hell.
We believe in the universal church — all believers of this age baptized by the Holy Spirit into one body — and are thus under solemn duty to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Its mission includes fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20.
We believe in the local church — the universal church congregated in local assemblies — the distinctives of which include the ordinances of the Lord's Supper and baptism. The Lord's Supper should be faithfully observed in RHMA churches as a means of remembering the death of Christ. We believe that all who place their faith in Christ ought to give public testimony to that reality by means of water baptism. The mode, as practiced by RHMA churches, will be immersion.
"Let this be written for a future generation . . ." Psalm 102:18
Our values are beliefs that tell why we do what we do. They are rooted in our history and will significantly influence our future. They guide our thinking, planning, and decision making, and are the driving force behind virtually every aspect of our ministry. The values we have put into writing are selective. These are our "Core Values." Some are peculiar to RHMA — distinguishing us from other ministries. Accompanying our values are examples and illustrations of how each might be lived out in a small-town context.
RHMA values . . .
Bible-based ministry. The Bible is the source from which our ministry should be derived (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Therefore, we will continually make sure the ministry methods we employ are consistent with Biblical principles.
Persistent prayer. Ongoing prayer is our most fundamental demonstration of dependence upon God (Psalm 127:1; Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-5).
Therefore, our ministries and activities will be characterized by a reliance on individual and corporate prayer in their conception, planning, and execution.
Healthy relationships. Healthy relationships among ministry leaders is a key to healthy churches (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Therefore, we will diligently strive to foster a healthy relational atmosphere in which mutual respect, love, and care for each other is expressed.
Interdependent relationships. Interdependence recognizes our personal inadequacies and our need to work together to fulfill the Great Commission (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Acts 20:27-28; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29; 12:1-31).
Therefore, we will be intentional about such things as team leadership, developing partnerships, and networking with others.
Influential local churches. The local church is the God-ordained means for lasting spiritual influence in a community (Matthew 16:18).
Therefore, the heart of our ministry is establishing and nurturing high-impact, effective local churches. Correspondingly, we see the best purpose for ministries of a more temporary or short-term nature (such as revival services, Vacation Bible Schools, and camps) as being to help establish influential, lasting, local churches.
Small places. Every community should have a vibrant, Bible-teaching, gospel-preaching church (Zechariah 4:10a; Acts 1:8; Luke 15:4-7).
Therefore, we will endeavor to plant a healthy church in rural and small-town communities where there is none.
Therefore, we will endeavor to strengthen churches that already exist in rural communities and small towns.
Small-town potential. Even the most isolated contexts are not limiting to God (Matthew 9:35-36; Colossians 1:1-14).
Therefore, we will strive to not allow ourselves to think that places with limited resources — people, finances, buildings — limit what God can do.
Quality ministry. God deserves the best we have to offer (Colossians 3:23).
Therefore, our ministry labors will reflect our belief that smaller places should receive our best efforts — certainly no less than larger places. Wherever we serve, we will seek to maintain a high standard of excellence to the glory of God.
"Let this be written for a future generation..." Psalm 102:18
Planting and Strengthening Churches in Small-Town America
Our vision tells what we do. Vision naturally springs from values. What follows is our two-part core vision that all who are a part of RHMA are together endeavoring to fulfill.
Because of our values, our vision is as follows:
RHMA plants small-town churches . . .
. . . through responding to the church planting initiatives of others. We respond, as able and as we deem wise, to those who initiate a contact to us asking for help with their new church.
. . . through RHMA's initiatives. Recognizing there are places that are void of vibrant, gospel-preaching, Bible-teaching churches, and further recognizing that no one from some of these communities is likely to initiate a church plant there, RHMA will — just as foreign missions do — identify towns in need of a church plant and seek to establish churches there.
RHMA strengthens small-town churches . . .
. . . through missionary pastors who are sent to churches in need of outside assistance. The goal of these pastors is to lead their churches to self-sustaining status.
. . . through an extensive conference and seminar ministry. All of these equipping ministries are tailored to those who are serving in town and country settings.
. . . through teaching students who will soon be serving in town and country areas. Many of these students are attending schools that are partnering with RHMA to provide academically-accredited town and country ministry training.
. . . through our media and website resources. Many of our resources focus on the town and country context.
. . . through being available to counsel and consult with pastors and church leaders who seek our assistance. As time allows and if we sense we can be of help, we are available on an informal basis to assist pastors and churches in need.
- Ron Klassen, Executive Director
- Gary Roseboom, Associate Director
- Doug Habegger, Director of Partnership Ministries
- Carey Gossen, Director of Mission Ministries
- Larry Bishop, Minister at Large
- Lynnette Goebel, Director of Operations
- Judy Roseboom, Bookkeeper
- Karen Clarke, Conference Coordinator
- Phyllis Bishop, Administrative Assistant
- Nettie Gossen, Receptionist / Financial Secretary
- Mike Boyle, Staff Consultant
- Mike & Linda Brubaker — Colchester, Connecticut » Christian Life Chapel
- Ted & Abbie Burnfield — Stanzel, Iowa » Bethel Baptist Church
- Kurt & Denna Busenitz — Cody, Nebraska » Sandhills Church of Hope
- Carl & Cindy Caskey — Loch Sheldrake, New York » Calvary Baptist Church
- Jonathan & Sarah Chadbourn — Paw Paw, Illinois » Paw Paw Bible Church
- Gaylord & Dorothy Finch — interim ministry
- Charlie & Donna Fulk — Webster, Illinois » Webster Community Church
- Walter & Leta Glasscock — Columbus, Texas » Columbus Bible Church
- Frank & Beth Huffman — Wenden, Arizona » Wenden Bible Church
- Matthew & Sarah Majewski — Lansing, Iowa » Center Baptist Church
- Cory & Patti Maunu — Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota
- Chuck & Connie Myers — Newcastle, Nebraska » Gospel Chapel
- Brody & Elizabeth Olson — Northern Arizona
- Kevin & Denise Owsley — Astoria, Illinois » Grace Bible Church
- Tim & Sonya Pearson — Alma, Kansas » New Life Bible Church
- Steve & Esther Poirot — Lincoln, Illinois » Lincoln Bible Church
- Jeff & Nickie Robinson — Lyman, Nebraska » Kiowa Community Church
- Brian & Jessica Russell — Montpelier, Idaho » Grace Bible Church
- Marc & Heidi Syler — awaiting assignment
- Jeff & Brenda Thames — Preston, Idaho » Grace Fellowship Church
- Jarod & Cassandra Walston — Redington, Nebraska » Redington Community Church
- Luke & Shannon Wolford — Hayes Center, Nebraska » Bethel Baptist Church
- Nick Zuercher — Polk, Nebraska » Evangelical Free Church
- Dick & Mary Buchanan — Kittanning, Pennsylvania
- Dave & Nancy Foote — Benton, Tennessee
- Harold Longenecker — Des Plaines, Illinois
- Lois Nantz — Lubbock, Texas
- Lester & Norma Ray — Wenden, Arizona
- Al & Lois Seadore — Callaway, Nebraska
- Don & Carolyn Steffen — Three Oaks, Michigan
- Jane Taylor — Newmanstown, Pennsylvania
- Jean Thornell — Bellaire, Michigan
Board of Directors
- Ritch Boerckel
- Cliff Johnson
- John Nafziger
- Mark Schellenberg
- Eric Smalley
- Phil Somers
- Mark Swisher
- Larry Van Gundy
- Troy Willey
- Phil Zobrist
Board of Reference
- Rev. Ray Badgero
- Dr. Mark Bailey
- Dr. Kent Hughes
- Rev. Chip Ingram
- Rev. Les Lofquist
- Dr. Joe Stowell
- Rev. Phil Tuttle
- Dr. Warren Wiersbe