Our diocese is committed to being a Bigger Church making a Bigger Difference.
On our Making It Easier training day
on Saturday 27th February, our Church Growth team will help you explore how you can make this happen through welcome and hospitality. We spoke to Diocesan Missioner Janice Hill who tells us more.
Q. What is your workshop theme, and why did you choose it?
A. I am doing a double act with Linda Jones, Director of Mission, on the theme of Welcome. When we completed the last round of the Growth Planning Framework, most churches identified welcome as one of their top five action points or areas for development. So we worked with the Communications team at St James’ House to develop some welcome resources and in consultation with some parishes we are trialling these materials. We’ll look at these and other resources in the workshop.
What can PCC members expect from your workshop?
We’ll explore what we mean by welcome. Our aim is for people to understand welcome as a verb, an ongoing process, not a one-off event. It’s about creating a culture of welcoming in all we do. We’ll reflect on our current practice, look afresh for new opportunities, and signpost to helpful resources.
What can our PCCs do to create more welcoming communities?
Remember that welcome is everyone’s job! The church wardens or welcomers may take the lead role, but that doesn’t absolve the rest of us from our responsibility. A good example is when a welcomer greets newcomers and introduces them to someone who may direct them where to sit, then for those sitting nearby to say hello too. So within moments of arriving, they have met at least five new people!
What’s are simplest, and most radical steps a PCC can take?
The simplest step, and also the most radical, is to look at welcome from an outsider’s point of view. If we are not careful, we can become blind to our own practice, and only see what we think is there. When was the last time we stood outside our own church and took a good look? Is it clear what the building is, when it’s open, what’s happening and who for? Is the church environment well cared for? We need to think about the kind of experience we want to create, how inviting our church looks, and what we mean by belonging.
Why is it important that churches take welcome seriously?
We only get one chance to make a good first impression – If we make a good first impression, it helps people feel more comfortable, and they’re more likely to be ready for that ‘Jesus moment’ when it comes. Too many people have received negative images of church - if we reinforce them, they won’t differentiate between our church and another, they may just not come back at all.
What are the greatest challenges our churches are facing in terms of mission and growth?
The greatest challenge is busyness . We need time to focus on important things and look at stopping other things that no longer serve us well. There’s a time, a season for everything – churches need to make time to review what they’re doing and discern what’s most important.
What’s your background, and how did you become Diocesan Missioner?
I was the Team Vicar of North Meols, then I applied to become Diocesan Missioner in April 2015. It’s a new role, with three strands:
Supporting Local Missional Leaders – I’m happy to speak to Deanery Chapters and Synods to explain the value of these new roles to support both existing and emerging ministry in our parishes;
Supporting the Pioneers Network – along with Duncan Petty I encourage Pioneers, both those currently engaged in Pioneer Ministry and those who God might be calling to this ministry;
Church growth including Statistics for Mission and the Growth Planning Framework.
How can the Church Growth Team help?
We want to help you in ways that you need to be helped. If you complete and return your Growth Planning Framework action plan, we can review it to see what you need from us.
Click here for more details of the Making It Easier Day on 27th February.
To contact our Church Growth Team at St James' House, email firstname.lastname@example.org