Main Street, Marks, MS
Leaders of rural, Christian ministries in Mississippi generally do not have, even if they receive them, the capacity or the capability to manage large grant awards. The ministries these leaders serve are frequently understaffed and for that reason are limited in the services they can offer and the geographical areas they can assist. Additionally, like numerous business owners or leaders in the private sector, several rural leaders start working in the area of non-profit Christian ministry without receiving any formal training, driven to meet the immediate needs they observe and/or are experiencing and feel they can address, even when they are not fully prepared to do so.
Our main way of providing a solution to the challenge of structure is by equipping rural leaders through our leadership development training workshops. We have training workshops each year in April and September. Ministries that receive funding from REAL are required to attend the trainings; however, the trainings are free and open to the public, even if the attendees would not normally qualify for funding from REAL, e.g. non-profits, etc. that are non-Christian and located in urban areas. Each of the two biannual trainings REAL conducts is a 4-hour workshop. After more than a decade, the curriculum has been redeveloped and is based on areas outlined by REAL leaders and consultants as presenting trials to Christian-ministry leaders in rural communities. Individuals who attend all five trainings of the curriculum will receive a certificate. Presenters with experience and/or expertise in each of the areas of training use a shared learning approach to lead the workshops.