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Church Development Plans

Each church, parish or chaplaincy is asked to respond to Transforming Church, Transforming Lives by producing a Church Development Plan. This page offers the basic steps to help and directs you to further resources. 

Parishes will be supported in developing a practical and workable church development plan (the template of which you can find below) as a part of Parish Needs Process (PNP). The first three parts normally take about six months, and the last part is roughly 18 months + before reviewing in the next PNP cycle.

Download the Church Development Plan template

A summary of the process is here: 

Flowchart depicting the Parish Needs Process, made up of four stages, being review, choose, plan and act

Step 1: Review 
"Unless The Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain." Psalm 127:1 

Be honest. Prayerfully review your strengths and where things are up to – celebrate the things going well, and recognise the weaknesses and challenges you face. 

There are lots of different tools we can use (some of which are listed in our resources section below) but the Mission Enabler Team will help you to find the best tool for your context

Step 2: Choose

Every church cannot prioritise everything. Listen to God. What do you discern that God’s priorities might be for you and your parish?

Choose a few priorities based on where you think God is calling you to be in a few years time. Don’t be afraid to dream big – after all God is a God of the impossible.

You may find that listening to partners in the parish like the school, community groups and others shape where you want to put your best time and energy.

The Mission Enabler Team will help you listen well to these partners, using local relationships, national data and Diocesan expertise to get the best out of this discernment process. Try to resist having too long a list of priorities. Shorter lists mean more focused actions. 

Step 3: Plan

You have some priorities – but where will you start? This plan will need to be revisited regularly as you tick things off along your journey. Plan a few key things – and be specific. If you want to engage with the school by offering a regular act of collective worship to the school, what are the first 3 things you need to do? Write them on your plan.

The Mission Enabler Team can help you balance the need to be ambitious and faithful with not burning out all your volunteers. We can point you to relevant training, resources and potential partner organisations. We can help you avoid common pitfalls and help you reflect on what success might look like in your plan. The Archdeacon will see all of a Deanery’s plans at a ‘Deanery Action Meeting’ and any resources needed will be allocated at this point. 

Step 4: Act

A plan is pointless if we don’t put it into action. Your plan should have clear actions and deadlines, and as you act your will need to revisit the plan in the light of what happens. As we know, no plan survives first contact with the mission field.

The Mission Enabler Team will keep in touch with you as you enact your plans, and if you need help, you can always ask us. Because each parish in a deanery will be at a similar point, we are expecting that joint action in specific areas (like youth work or community development work) will become normal and a natural part of what it means to be a member of the diocesan family. 

Step 5: Repeat

Of course this is a cycle, so after about 2 years we will repeat all over again. It will look different as the parish will be in a different place, and priorities may change. There may be much to celebrate or plans to develop, but the Mission Enabler Team will be back to help again. 

Health audit tools 

The Parish Need Process will use a variety of tools to help parishes review where they are at, their strengths and weaknesses, and where their priorities could lie. Health audits can be a helpful part of the Review phase in the planning cycle. They will help you focus on the key areas that will make the biggest difference. Usually completed by around 30 leaders and PCC members, they can provide a balanced view of church life that is not swayed by a few stronger voices. 

The Mission Enabler Team can advise on the following tools and which might suit your situation best. 

  • Congregational survey: A simple six-question survey we recommend every parish to use which will give you key information about your age profiles, numbers of new people, whether people are coming to faith in your church etc. Completed by the entire congregation. Usually used in conjunction with another health audit tool 
  • Parish development profile: An in-house tool adapted to the 12 goals which helps you discern both your key priorities and your relative strengths 
  • Natural church development: A globally respected statistical health audit which measures your strengths in eight key health areas for church life and suggests the areas to work on next. It costs around £250 (discounted through PDE). We recommend that you seek advice from someone experienced in using this tool to help you understand the results fully 
  • Healthy church: Based on Robert Warren's Healthy Church Handbook, a discussion-based system to help you discern your relative strengths and weaknesses using seven key church health factors 
  • Angel of the church exercise: A useful and imaginative exercise to help you understand how you currently see your church and your dreams for its future 
  • From Evidence To Action: Also known as FETA, a follow up report to From Anecdote to Evidence with cards for PCC discussion on key growth issues. They are a simple way to start mission planning type discussions in a PCC that is not used to this kind of planning 
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