Our diocese’s second strategic priority is Aligning Resources for Mission. We’re working to put things in place that will enable missional activity to be prioritised in every parish, every deanery, every archdeaconry and across our diocesan support services.
Four interconnected work streams are being progressed to achieve this.
1. Diocesan Support Services aligned to enable the flourishing of our parishes
Our aim is to ensure our Diocesan Support Services – the teams of people who support parishes and schools – are fully aligned to the flourishing of mission-focused churches in all the different contexts across the diocese. This involves:
- Ministry for Mission reviewing its priorities and deploying more time and resource to parish support.
- Central Services reviewing processes to ensure support for flourishing of churches.
- A new process enabling parishes to review their mission and ministry and to discern their future shape
- Liaison with groups who have particular insights into mission and ministry in particular contexts. For example, as we are a largely rural diocese, we seek to engage closely with the Flourishing Rural Church Group. This group has begun to work on how we might align our resources to enable our rural churches to flourish in mission.
2. Current resourcing priorities
Our commitment is to enabling the flourishing of ministry across all contexts in the diocese, but we are aware that some areas of ministry will need some particular investment of resources over the medium-term. Two areas have already been identified by Diocesan Synod as current priorities for resourcing:
- Areas of deprivation: Diocesan Synod has designated this as a particular focus for investment in response to the gospel call to pay particular attention to the poor (Galatians 2:10)
- Growing new Christian communities: We are committed to investing in working with communities where church currently has little impact.
3. Deployment strategy and plan for people and buildings
As a diocese we want to become more intentional in our strategic planning for the deployment of clergy and laity across the diocese. We need to develop a plan based on clear strategic principles that will ensure the flourishing of mission-focused ministry across the diocese.
As the Flourishing Rural Churches Group and others have noted, buildings is a key issue to address. The care of our ancient buildings often falls on just a few people and becomes a distraction from the call to live and tell the story of Jesus. We need to re-imagine the use of some of our buildings and review how we might cope if parishes felt they might need to consider closure over the next few years. This work stream involves:
- Establishing some clear mission-focused deployment (and pastoral reorganisation) principles based on a real understanding of the current and future needs of different contexts across the diocese (e.g. rural, town, suburban, city, Magnificat). Again this will need to engage the insights of key groups, such as the Flourishing Rural Church Group, the Magnificat Parish Group and the Larger Churches Group.
- Establishing clear processes for planning and decision making about deployment and pastoral reorganisation at Diocesan, Archdeaconry, Deanery and Parish/Benefice level.
- Enabling churches to develop their buildings for mission, and plan for changes that may need to take place in the way we use our buildings across the diocese.
- Ensuring we are attracting, raising up and retaining gifted mission-focused leaders for all our different contexts
4. Review of our Common Fund model
We seek a Common Fund model which supports and enables local mission.
As a diocese, we have a common fund model which currently brings in 99% of the resources needed for our agreed budget. However, over the last few years, we have been aware of some strains. There has been a widening of the gap between those parishes who are ‘supporting’ and those who are ‘supported’. A temporary arrangement was put in place two years ago (Benefice Ministry Allowance) which ends in 2020.
The Common Fund Committee is working on a review of our Common Fund model which involves:
- Ensuring clear biblical foundations for our Common Fund
- Assessing the range of models used across the Church of England
- Reviewing how we measure membership and relative ability to pay
- Reviewing how we respond to parishes unable to meet their Parish Share
This work is to be done in the context of a wider budget review by the Finance Committee.