Earlier this year, Bishop Paul Bayes launched the next steps in how our diocese can get Fit for Mission. As we continue the long obedience in this direction, first articulated as the Growth Agenda by Bishop James, we are looking at ways in which we can build on our vision to ask God for a bigger church to make a bigger difference and give our diocese a sustainable future.
To help clarify our thinking Bishop Paul asked a small group to coordinate a process of prayerful thinking, listening and reflecting on how every deanery and parish can be supported in becoming fit for the mission that God sets before us, achieving the growth we all desire. As various groups across our diocese have thought, prayed, and consulted about being Fit for Mission, four principles emerged. However, our consultation also showed that to deliver the four principles, we need to tackle the key obstacles which have faced the local and national church for a long time. This has led to six solutions emerging, solutions that can help us become Fit for Mission together
This page restates the principles and obstacles while going into more detail on the identified solutions.
It also shows how you can get involved and give your views..
The principles of Fit for Mission
- Introducing more people to Jesus
- Deepening our discipleship
- Developing our Christian leaders of the future
- Working for justice
The obstacles to getting Fit For Mission
- A long-term decline in membership and attendance
- Under-resourcing of the frontline
- Pressure on people, especially leaders and key volunteers
- Unsustainable buildings
- A church that does not reflect the whole community
Earlier this year we tested these thoughts by asking people like you across our diocese for their views. All your feedback has been gathered and listened to through the first phase of Fit for Mission. This was all about hearing your views and ideas for how we can collectively achieve our four principles and tackle the five obstacles. This has been key to informing the next stages – Fit for Mission 2.
It has clearly emerged that the way forward is through the local deanery being given the best resource possible to support how it works in the local area. All the thinking has led to a way forward that sees the local area supported by the wider diocese and national church to be the bigger church we want, making the bigger difference.
In that way together we can be Fit for Mission.
Fit for Mission 2 – the consultation continues
So, Fit for Mission 2 has brought together your reflections and ideas to develop six solutions that will enable mission and ministry to flourish in the Diocese of Liverpool.
In addition to the six solutions some key themes emerged from the first phase of consultation:
- Communication: engage people through stories and lived experience to promote what the church does.
- Behaviours: role model the desired behaviours, show authenticity in leadership and be inclusive.
- Development: training, encouragement and support are valued and wanted.
- Resources: there is a need to plan, pool and prioritise resources and the demands made on people.
These themes will need to support and underpin the six solutions, all of which have local decision making at their heart, enabling and empowering church leaders.
The next stage is again now over to you to share your views on the six solutions, whether you agree with them, what impact you feel they would have and what difference you feel they would make to your area and community. We also want to hear about whether you feel there are other solutions that we should be developing as Fit for Mission 2 progresses:
The proposed Six Solutions
The proposed six solutions cover a range of ways we can grow the church according to the principles we ahve set out whilst overcoming the obstacles we face. the solutions that have been identified through this process are:-
- Developing our discipleship culture
- Larger leadership teams
- One-to-one and peer accountability
- Larger parishes
- Deanery support services
- Fit for purpose buildings
1. Developing our discipleship culture
The specific focus of this solution is to start, lead and grow new worshipping communities and justice initiatives locally. Our experience shows us that with the right training and ongoing support we can successfully plant these to reach a wider cross-section of society. These will include justice focussed groups that combine worship and social action, which particularly appeal to younger disciples.
A programme has been developed, called Cultivate,that enables lay people to explore what it would mean to lead in this way, and be supported well as they take up the challenge.
By implementing Cultivate alongside our other diocesan-wide growth programme (Leading your Church into Growth) we hope to see a step change in discipleship culture.
We’ll be sharing more about the Cultivate programme, to help you understand this solution, in next week’s newsletter.
2. Larger leadership teams
The aim here is to create supportive missional leadership teams of lay and ordained working together more collaboratively and effectively. This will be a really positive shift towards enabling a greater focus on planning and prioritising mission.
These teams will create life-giving supportive environments to reduce the isolation of leaders and the energy drain of replicating or trying to be all things in all places with little resource and ageing populations.
Teams will be resourced with coaching and facilitation to learn how to work in this new way.
3. One-to-one and peer accountability
In so many areas of life being accountable to someone else helps us achieve what we want to do. The aim here is to develop positive accountability structures for all leaders to support individuals well and to maintain and celebrate progress.
4. Larger parishes
Larger teams can only be created by bringing together leaders to work collaboratively over a wider geographical area. They will have the resources, tools, support, training and authority to develop and implement mission plans that reach new generations of disciples.
To create this scale that can focus resources on missional priorities, the vision is to move towards larger parishes – just one or two in a deanery, to replace the smaller parishes we currently have. The larger parish holds together governance, finance and leadership in a single PCC, which then supports many existing and new worshipping communities and justice initiatives (who then don’t need to replicate those administrative aspects of being church).
5. Deanery support services
Working collaboratively across larger geographic areas allows for some services to be undertaken centrally. Things such as HR, some aspects of finance, funeral coordination, statutory buildings checks/services, some purchasing, general admin, comms etc.
Developing deanery support services can mean that these aspects are dealt with more efficiently and so allow the rest of us to focus on engaging with our communities.
6. Fit for purpose buildings
We have known for years that we have a problem with the buildings we own. So we will face the buildings issue head-on with increased assistance to make good local decisions on use, development or closure.
Share your views
Your feedback on the six solutions is vital, because it will help to inform the next stages of how we will mobilise as a diocese to deliver the growth and resilience that they aim to achieve.
This is once again a valuable opportunity for everyone to share their opinions and ideas and help to inform how we take the six solutions forward.
So please do get involved and share your views. You can do this by:
- Emailing email@example.com
- Completing a short survey which will be shared next week to share your views
- Taking part in our online drop in sessions – dates will be announced soon.
We hope as many people as possible will take part and help us to co-create our future as a diocese
Let’s work together to get Fit for Mission