Fit for Mission is not a project for the few or an idea of the moment. It sits in our diocese's faithful, prayerful call to do God's work.
This page gives you some of the background to Fit For Mission and where it fits into our vision of asking God for a bigger church to make a bigger difference with more people knowing Jesus and more justice in the world.
Fit for Mission is part of our Long Obedience
We have all been trying very hard to grow over the past decades. Indeed 22% of our churches have seen sustained attendance growth which is fantastic. However, 70% have been in sustained decline. We need to face that reality and take action, addressing the issues that hold back mission and growth.
Fit for Mission builds on what has gone before, it:-
- Incorporates best practice from churches that are seeing growth around our diocese
- Continues to revitalise existing churches through Leading your Church into Growth (LyCiG), which is proving successful for many churches
- Enables Resource Churches, where they exist in a deanery, to lead on larger planting by sending teams out to plant and revitalise. Our five Resource Churches are mainly still in the growing phase but we are seeing good growth, which is encouraging.
- Brings learning from the Joshua Centre and Wigan, where we have seen growth through smaller, largely lay-led worshipping communities. Since 2015 these have planted around 60 new worshipping communities.
Here in Liverpool we are fond of the phrase, ‘a long obedience in the same direction’. In his book of the same title Eugene Peterson rightly underlines the need for a consistent, disciplined journey of faith, resisting the quick fix and looking instead to the long view.
Over several decades, and certainly in the episcopate of my predecessors David Sheppard and James Jones, the long obedience has been sustained, and the strategic direction of the Diocese of Liverpool has been consistent. Now the time has come for a further step along that same road. Bishop Paul Bayes, 8th Bishop of Liverpool.
Where is Fit for Mission up to?
Over the last two years, Fit for Mission has involved hundreds of people across our diocese in working groups, consultations, and discernment.
We have been formally offered significant funding to take Fit for Mission forward over the next 6 years. The funding will mean that each deanery will get the support they need, with capacity and specific resources for a two-year change period.
Between September 2021 and April 2022 the deaneries of St Helens and West Derby engaged with Fit for Mission to understand what it is and what it would mean to join the change programme. This culminated with each PCC voting on whether they wanted to be in the first (pilot) cohort. Twenty three churches across St Helens and West Derby made a commitment to the process, and by June 2022 will have begun their two-year Fit for Mission journey of change. Keep an eye out on here, in the Bulletin, and on Diocese social media to follow their progress.
What do I need to do?
There will be the opportunity for parishes in every deanery in the diocese to join Fit for Mission over the next four years, in two more cohorts. As each deanery begins to actively engage with their decision on whether to go ahead and commit, they will be supported by the Fit for Mission programme team in engaging deeply and prayerfully with all in their church communities.
At the moment there is nothing that you need to do as the next cohort won’t start until 2023. However, many people are asking what they can do now in preparation for Fit for Mission in their deanery. While the programme team doesn’t have lots of capacity to work with deaneries before the engage stage, there are steps deaneries could take now that would help to prepare. The document below called "Getting Fit for Mission ready" has some simple suggestions from experience working with the two pilot deaneries. The single most effective thing that we can all be doing at this stage to prepare for Fit for Mission is to pray – remembering that the faithful God is with us always until the end of the age.
What can I share with my church?
You may like to direct people to these web pages to explore what Fit for Mission is, and how the St Helen's and West Derby deaneries are engaging as the first cohort. Below are a few resources that are available to help you communicate in churches.
Two-page summary - this is a short introduction to Fit for Mission
Getting Fit for Mission ready - this is some ideas and suggestions for deaneries and churches who a looking for ways to prepare for Fit for Mission
Scoping document - this is a 57 page working document that describes the journey of a deanery towards being Fit for Mission
Frequently asked questions - this is a collection questions asked by church members in the two deaneries that have engaged with Fit for Mission
How can I find out more?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about Fit for Mission