We have an agenda to grow. To grow our churches numerically and spiritually. To Grow in Christ. Our initial Growth Agenda led us to be able to state we are a growing diocese. Our latest version - Growing in Christ - sets out a three year plan for growth that builds on the growth agenda's momentum.
Growing in Christ
Growing in Christ aims to take forward the growth agenda over the next three years. It consolidates the work already started and incorporates some of the more recent developments around local leadership and vocations. It retains that sense of focus, that urgency that we must have to maintain if not increase momentum. Indeed, if we try to stand still it will simply result in us losing ground and, in effect, go backwards.
Growing in Christ talks frankly about the challenges ahead. It s out an urgent threefold challenge of ageing money, broken buildings and retiring clergy.
As Bishop Richard said “We have ageing congregations. The average age of our congregations is 61, significantly higher than the population’s average age of 48. This leads to ageing money. Our churches rely heavily on giving that is concentrated within this older generation.
“Our clergy are retiring. 40% will retire in the next 10 years. It takes about 8 years from the first expression of interest about ordination to licensing a priest into his or her first incumbency to replace those who are retiring. So we must act now.
“Our buildings are breaking, and are breaking us. They were not built for 21st century purposes. They drain time, money and energy and distract us from mission and ministry.”
This is the challenge which we face and the challenge that the actions of the document seek to address through ideas to:-
continue to maintain a high level of parish share payment in order to support mission and ministry in every parish
develop models of leadership and encourage vocations so every worshipping community is well led
ask, and seek solutions, to challenging questions of the health and sustainability of our parishes and suitability of our buildings
make good appointments, resource strong mission ideas and make it easier to run parishes.
It is a challenge that includes and involves us all. One of the strongest aspects of our previous plans is the level of understanding, support and commitment given by all parishes. This has led us to being a growing diocese and a diocese in good heart able to face the future challenges head on.