Engaging the young and outreach
In 2015, three of the challenges parishes felt most acutely were: engaging with younger generations, engaging with those outside church, and financial resourcing. The parish development and evangelism team supported parishes tackling these areas in the following ways.
Early in 2015 we ran roadshows around the diocese to present the new From Evidence to Action (FETA) materials, which are designed to help PCCs address key issues common to growing churches. Many have since been using the FETA tools, along with others we can provide, to help develop their mission action plans. The number of parishes asking for assistance in vision development has now outstripped our capacity. A key aim for 2016 is to develop a team of volunteer consultants and mission accompaniers to grow our capability.
The launch of the Parish Giving Scheme was a key part of our support for stewardship. This new direct debit-based scheme not only automatically claims Gift Aid each month, but also gives donors the ability to index-link their gifts, reducing the problem of static giving. One third of our parishes signed up to the scheme in 2015 and two-thirds of donors chose the index-linked option.
We revamped the Mission and Parish Development Fund, which provides around £80,000 in direct grants to parishes, into a new-style Growth Fund. It is now easier for parishes to apply for small grants to help with one-off missional projects.
A key piece of research work was undertaken in partnership with the Church Army Research Unit looking at all the Fresh Expressions of Church in the diocese. These are proving to be highly effective at engaging unchurched groups and already count for 16% of our attendance. The report had led to the formation of two task groups which are feeding into the diocesan strategy discussions.
Parish Development and Evangelism