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The Potting Shed

Greenhouse with plants in a community gardenGrowing community is one of the key three stands of the Diocese of Guildford’s vision and strategy, but where do we start in engaging with our communities?

A potting shed is a place for sowing seeds, watering, watching them grow, and planting them in the ground. It’s great metaphor for how ‘growing community’ can take shape in a parish, a chaplaincy, a school, or any other mission field.

The Potting Shed is a shared space for learning, where leaders in mission can gather and discuss the practical work of how to grow community. Prayer, discussion, biblical interpretation, and imaginative thinking are all brought into the mix.

The aim is to develop a well-researched theology and strategy for community transformation that internal and external stakeholders can easily implement in their context.

If you are interested is joing the Potting shed because you are a practitioner, or would like to be, please do be in touch.

Below is a list of tools, websites and research that might be useful when looking at Church and Community Transformation in your parish.

Tool Kit

http://www.theology-centre.org/  The Centre for Theology and Community has been awarded £450k to work with https://www.citizensuk.org/ to pilot a Community Organising scheme. Research by CTC has shown that churches working in the community also grow disciples. To find out more read this paper; https://d3hgrlq6yacptf.cloudfront.net/64512e98ef5d6/content/pages/documents/people-of-power-.pdf

Church Urban Fund lookup tool Find out about the demographics of your particular parish

Growing Good Course  A six-session course helping churches explore the connection between social action, discipleship and growth.

Know your church, know your neighbourhood a free facilitated process to help churches think about themselves in relation to the local communities they seek to serve, and make prayerful and informed decisions about their mission in those communities.

The GRA:CE Report  The CUF and Theos. The culmination of three years of extensive qualitative and quantitative research, including over 350 interviews in over 60 parish communities across England and new analysis of existing parish data, this report explores the relationship between social action, church growth, and discipleship in the Church of England

Church of England - Undertaking a Community Audit  Fron the CofE; Undertaking a community audit and consulting with the community.

Wheel of light  From Tearfund.  A self-led online course exploring ways to understand, achieve, and measure whole-life transformation

Talking Jesus  A six-week course that will inspire you to share your faith and will give you practical suggestions to help you to be natural and relevant as you talk about Jesus with the people you meet in your community.

Hymns we love Exploring Hymns That Take Us to the Heart of the Christian Faith.  Hymns We Love is a brand new outreach series, written by Steve and Pippa Cramer from Holy Trinity, Claygate, with the older generation in mind. It uses some of our most well-loved hymns to explore the Christian faith in a gentle but faithful way.

Hear Here One in six people has a hearing loss. A Hear Here Clinic, held in a Church or Community building, offers basic hearing aid maintenance and advice to support hearing aid wearers to get the best from their devices.  As part of the church's mission strategy, this project is an excellent way to welcome people who would not normally step inside your church building. 

Light Beacons | Equipping your church to reach out on 31 October. A useful website for Halloween, how to bring light into the community among the darkness.

Church & Community Transformation

Research shows that churches that have some social enterprise are more likely to have a sustainable income and survive as a place of worship, increase their volunteering, and have improved community cohesion. A by-product is that they grow disciples, a precis of current research can be found here; Social Enterprises have also been shown to be beneficial to church growth, you might like to read the Plunkett Report Social Enterprises and rural places of Worship.

Church and Community as Good News;

Logo of a cross saying St Martin's Camberley, Loving God, Loving Each Other, Loving CommunitySt Martin's, Camberley sits within a mixed area of deprivation. Revd Chris Richardson became Vicar just before Covid 19 but quickly began to see where God was already at work and what the needs of his new parish were, and was determined to join in.  By bringing together the church and community stakeholders and continually praying, they now have many initiatives that serve the people of the parish.  They live by their mission statement of Loving God, Loving each other, and Loving Community, and have seen their church thrive throughout the week and their congregation grow.  Watch this video to hear from Chris;

St Martin's Camberley

A large group of people gathererd around Sophie Wessex, smiling and posing for a photoThe Lighthouse, Woking Erik and Rebecca Jespersen spoke at the Diocesan Church Growth Conference 2023 about their work in setting up the Lighthouse, their story is inspiring.  Read more about the lighthouse and watch videos on how they built it up from a derelict building to what it is today, with the help of many friends, it's all about community, God, and working together.

The Lighthouse

Greenhouse and the Potting Shed, what’s the difference?

Greenhouses, a Church of England methodology for growing new Christian communities, acknowledge that something new is going to happen - something is going to be grown out of nothing. Its focus is on teamwork and following a journey of steps that can be helpful in developing projects of all kinds into something intentionally missional. Read more about Greenhouse on the page all about growing new worshipping communities.

The Potting Shed expands on this idea and uses a similar learning community space to inspire and enable churches to engage with their communities and with community stakeholders. 

This is a work in progress so watch this space. For more information contact Victoria Ashdown.

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