Gospel-Shaped Ministry to Small Places

Small Town Summit: New England

Over the past couple decades, Tim Keller and others have developed a biblically-faithful and amazingly fruitful theological vision for urban ministry. We believe it’s an opportune time to explore what a theological vision for rural/small-town ministry will look like.

Small Town Summits, in partnership with The Gospel Coalition New England, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Small Town Jesus, invites small-town/rural pastors, ministry leaders, and laypeople from around New England to join us for a one-day Summit. We’ll consider together what it looks like for our small-place ministries to be distinctively gospel-shaped. We’re eager for seminary students to attend this Summit in order to catch a vision for the excitement, challenges, and importance of rural ministry.

This New England Summit is distinct from the Summits we’ve already hosted in New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as the future Summits we’re planning in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. We typically gather in local regions within New England. For this New England Summit, we’re inviting folks from across the entire New England region. At our local Summits, we hear talks and breakout sessions from local pastors and leaders. For this New England Summit, we’ll hear from Rick Lints (Vice President for Academic Affairs, Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), Brad Roth (a pastor in rural Kansas and author of the award-winning God’s Country), and Donnie Griggs (a pastor in small-town North Carolina and author of the popular book Small Town Jesus). We’ll also enjoy practically-oriented breakout sessions led by small-town/rural pastors and laypeople from around New England.


Date: Monday, March 18th, 2019

Cost: $25

Time: 8.30am – 4pm

Location: Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, 130 Essex St, South Hamilton, MA 01982



  • 8.30 – 9am - Arrival and registration
  • 9 – 10am - Welcome, singing, framing the current situation and introducing the vision and contribution of this conference (Stephen Witmer)
  • 10 – 10.30am - Session 1: ‘What theological vision is, and why it matters for small-place ministry’ (Richard Lints)
  • 10.30 – 11am - Coffee break
  • 11am – 12pm - Session 2: ‘How the doctrine of God sends us to the small places’ (Brad Roth, rural pastor and author of CT award-winning God’s Country)
  • 12 – 1pm - Lunch
  • 1 – 2pm - Session 3: Breakout sessions
  • 2.15 – 3.15pm - Session 4: ‘What gospel-shaped small-town ministry looks like in practice’ (Donnie Griggs, small-town pastor and author of Small Town Jesus)
  • 3.30 – 4pm - Closing panel discussion with plenary speakers

Plenary Speakers


Donnie Griggs

Donnie Griggs is lead pastor of One Harbor Church, a multi-location congregation in the small town of Morehead City, North Carolina. One of Donnie’s passions is to see churches in small towns and rural areas equipped and empowered to radically engage culture and make disciples. Donnie is the author of Small Town Jesus, and he also serves on the leadership team of the Advance Movement of churches.

Richard Lints

Richard Lints is the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Theology and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is an author, ordained pastor, church planter,  and now leads the faculty at the leading evangelical seminary in New England. He is married to Ann and father to Kate, Sarah and Lucas.

Brad Roth

Brad Roth serves as pastor at West Zion Mennonite Church in Moundridge, Kansas. He grew up baling hay, tending sheep, and shearing Christmas trees on a farm in Illinois. He is a graduate of Augustana College , Harvard Divinity School, and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. Brad has a heart for serving God and God’s people in rural communities. He’s passionate about sharing faith in word and deed and living out God’s love in the community. He and his wife, Lici, enjoy bicycling, tending a garden, keeping chickens, and playing with their two sons. He is the author of God's Country and writes about encountering God in the everyday at DoxologyProject.com.