The Leightonstones Mission Area
What is Proposed?
The 14 parishes of West and South Leightonstone are invited to keep doing what they are good at, while working together on things they aren’t able to do alone.
For example, our PCCs are great at engaging with communities and maintaining our buildings – they should keep doing that. But they all struggle with promoting and supporting faith in younger generations – we need to work together on that.
We have agreed to appoint a Children and Families Minister to join the ministry team, and they will start working with our two Benefices on Christian faith for younger families.
We have also set up a joint Working Group staffed from participating parishes. That Group will review options, pilot ideas, and propose alternative ways of working for our PCCs to decide on over the coming three years.
Why do this and what is the Problem?
In the above video, Revd Philip outlines the story so far, and the reasons we are doing the work, but in summary:
All the churches in West and South Leightonstone share the same strengths and problems.
Most are good at raising funds, managing the building, collaborating with their community, and gently witnessing to the Christian faith through their good conduct.
They all struggle to connect with, retain and support younger generations in Christian faith.
The problem is that passing on and growing new generations in faith is a fundamental role of churches.
We’ve been unable to solve this problem for so long that some churches are close to closing, or two resignations away from crisis. Even stable parishes are seeing little to no impact on younger generations.
Yet the legal duties of a PCC are broader than simply the tasks our energy and skills are able to do. It says in the Parochial Church Councils Measure (1956) that “the functions of parochial church councils shall include co-operation with the minister in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic… ” etc.
The “whole mission” is to our whole community, and we aren’t achieving much with anyone below the age of 50. So even if we are confident we can carry on as we are, we still have statutory duties that we don’t appear able to fulfil.
These gaps and challenges are only going to get worse and harder to resolve. Every decade 10% more of the population ticks “no religion” in the national census. Every new generation becomes more and more “de-churched”. What we have is good, but it is not effective for younger generations and that puts our loved local churches at risk.
What will the Working Group work on?
The priorities for the working group will be:
|Problem to be considered||Solutions we might find|
|How do we connect with families and children, and help them become part of our life as churches?||a. employ a children and families minister
b. grow a team who will work with them
c. promote and develop new ways of connecting with younger generations that engage effectively with them
d. try out new ways of doing church that help younger generations join the Christian faith
|What is a better way for licenced and lay ministers to work with our parishes?||Develop a new way of being a “ministry team”.|
|How do we make governance more useful in supporting the mission of our churches?||Explore and decide on new or alternative governance models.
a. stay as you are. If it’s working don’t fix it.
b. merge parishes. We might find it easier for one PCC to run three churches.
c. Keep the duties we have that we can fulfil, but create a Joint Council to do what we can’t.
|How do we make sure local church buildings and local church communities thrive and have a future?||Some PCCs need to be freer of burdensome duties to focus on what they are good at.
Some churches are in a tired state and could be refreshed and re-modelled for their communities.
|How do we relieve our church communities of burdensome administration?||Examine what are our local churches really good at and encourage them to do that.
Work out which duties might be centralised, so they don’t trouble local PCCs.
Want to know more?
Please do get in contact with Revd Philip; or, if you are part of one of our churches, ask them who the representative is and they can let you know more.
And if you want to get involved, just ask, and we will see what we can do together.