We all want our churches to grow but we are facing
declining numbers in congregations across the country.
Many feel that the the Church's days are numbered,
that nothing can be done. But that just isn't true.
In spite of a recent report showing the numbers of priests
in the UK going down and their ages are going up,
our clergy in Peterborough Diocese are getting younger
and we are getting more of them, to halt the downward spiral.
It is all part of the vision for the diocese.
Bishop Donald believes that one of the things
that affect church growth is clergy numbers.
You can watch/listen to him speak
of this in his Roadshows here on our Youtube channel.
Listen Here growth
A Growth Action Plan (GAP) is another method
for helping the church to grow in numbers,
in discipleship, in evangelism, in community engagement
and the parish team to grow in confidence.
It is about creating a plan that is custom made
for each individual church.
Something that may work for an urban parish
might not work at all for
something more rural.
As Profession David Voas said:
"There is no single recipe for growth;
there are no simple solutions to decline.
The road to growth depends on the context, and what works in one place
may not work in another.
What seems crucial is that congregations are constantly engaged in reflection;
churches cannot soar on autopilot.
Growth is a product of good leadership (lay and ordained) working
with a willing set of churchgoers in a favourable environment."
Anecdote to Evidence
a report from the Church Growth Research programme
is what Revd Canon Miles Baker, the Diocese Director for Mission,
uses as the foundation for the activities and group work used
to develop a plan to help each church grow.
"A great Growth Action Plan usually comes from a good vision day."
The vision day asks three questions:
1. Where are we?
2. Where is God calling us to be?
3. How will we get there?
Then with a creative and engaging process, the PCC members
and leadership group will work out what is needed in order to be
where God is calling the church to be.
This leads to to the creation of a written Growth Action Plan.
This includes a One Year Plan with measurable goals to achieve
a Five Year Vision statement.
There is even a plan for a review date to look at the progress.
"Having a plan will give a clear sense
of missional direction, which is a
powerful tool for church growth."
The churches which are growing are the
churches which are intentionally wanting to grow.
Research shows that of those who report
a clear sense of mission and purpose have
grown 64% in numbers and discipleship.
For those that stated that they didn't have
a sense of clear mission and purpose,
26% had grown and 52% had declined."
(Figures from Anecdote to Evidence).
Bishop Donald said: "We believe in church growth.
All our senior staff saw growth in their earlier parish ministries,
and it is our expectation for every healthy church.
Rather than a detailed diocesan strategy, we are working in terms
of a vision for each parish or benefice to develop and own a Growth Action Plan".