"The Village Mission Man"

About Barry Osborne


The first 25 years

While in his late teens, Barry joined an interdenominational mission specialising in rural evangelism as a trainee evangelist. Two years later he was invited onto the full-time staff and held various offices over the following years becoming the CEO in 1985.


During his time in this mission he organised and took part in over 200 missions, and set up and led a residential training programme for Theological College graduates entering rural ministry.


In 1982 he played a leading part in setting up the Rural Evangelism Network which he still serves as Executive Secretary


Developing New Skills

Barry was invited to join what is now the Chartered Management Institute and undertook a course of studies in management with the Open University which proved a useful addition to a portfolio of skills.  He became one of the earliest thinkers in what is now commonly referred to as mission shaped churches.


Paradigm Shift in Rural Mission

In 1988 he set up a new kind of Mission Consultancy called "Rural Sunrise" (since re-branded as Rural Mission Solutions). This was an ecumenical mission-enabling organisation that uses a unique process drawing on three important disciplines - theology, sociology and organisational development. The process is based on the premise that each local church has a unique role within God's mission which relates to the gifts of its members and the context of the local community.


One of the earliest opportunities to prove the new approach came with an invitation from the Diocese of Portsmouth to help encourage rural parishes to become more missional.  Barry has been a guest speaker at many conferences.


Research and Writing

Barry was a contributing author to The Second Workbook on Rural Evangelism, and Ten Rural Churches.  He helped to script and produce an Anglican video resource, Hidden Treasures.


Barry has been researching rural mission and evangelism since the late seventies.  He was the first to research Church Growth In Rural Areas, and later Church Planting in Rural Areas.  Reflecting on what had contributed to success or failure during the time he was leading short, intensive rural mission outrecahes led to writing The Key to Effective Rural Evangelism Grove Books invited him to write Rural Evangelism in the 21st Century.


He continues to write for Country Way magazine and writes a regular blog.


Pasoral and Teaching Ministry

In addition to his evangelistic experience Barry has also served four churches in a pastoral and teaching capacity. From 1968 to 1989 he was a member of a ministry team in an Independent Baptist Church in Hastings. From 1990 to 2005 he served as the Minister of a Congregational Church in Herstmonceux, East Sussex and undertook further theological training. From 2005 until 2016 he served Yelvertoft Congregational Church, Northamptonshire.


Wider Denominational Responsibilities

Barry is an ordained minister within the Congregational Federation, but has a passion to work with different denominations.  He is a former President of the Federation and has served on its Council, the Mission and Society Committee, Pastoral Care Board, and was for many years the chairman of the Inter-Church Board responsible for national ecumenical relationships.  He also served as a member of the Executive Committee for the International Congregational Fellowship.


Other Interests

Barry now lives in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, having moved with his wife and ministry colleague in 2005.  After 45 years of partnership in ministry, Doreen died in the spring of 2020.  He has also served as a director of several companies and as the MD for two of these.  He is a co-author of Time for Action, a CTBI publication addressing issues of cause of sexual abuse in a church context, and appropriate pastoral support.  He also co-wrote a report for the House of Bishops of the Church of England, entitled Responding Well.  He teaches on matters of safeguarding for the Salvation Army, among others.

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