Nurturing worshipping communities of every type, tradition, shape and size
We long to see more people from every part of our diverse diocese come to know Jesus, through fresh expressions of church, revitalisations, grafts and new church plants, language fellowships, the faithful work that currently exists and new opportunities within our parishes.
As churches regather after the challenges of past stages of the pandemic, we are already witnessing an energy to try new things, to think afresh about our mission and outreach work.
Our vision is that every parish will actively consider and engage in growing new congregations in the Diocese of Oxford, to promote a truly mixed ecclesial ecology and to nurture diverse worshipping communities.
Lay teams are joining Deanery Greenhouses to find peer support and go on a journey that turns their outreach initiative into an intentional worshipping community. Church plants and revitalisations are being identified, many led by our Resourcing Hubs. And fresh expressions and new congregations, several of which are supported by the Development Fund, are starting all across the diocese.
To be inspired, read some of our stories below, watch our film about growing new congregations, and find out the latest news and updates. You can always get in touch with one of our team if you have questions.
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More about growing new congregations
Watch Growing new congregations, a celebration of the inspiring stories of how we can grow by doing church a little differently.
You can also read more stories below. Click [+] to expand each heading.
Gathering energy for a mixed ecclesial ecology: Church Planting Forum and a new Greenhouse
To see a flourshing, growing church in the Diocese of Oxford, congregations of all types, shapes and sizes are needed in every location and context. From bigger church plants on the one hand, to smaller, lay-led new worshipping communities on the other - representing every part of our Diocese.
Our aim of growing New Congregations through the Greenhouse programme made further progress with the launch of the Aylesbury Town Greenhouse last June.
in March 2022, 17 larger churches gathered online for our first Church Planting Forum, to share wisdom, experience and inspiration. Featuring keynote speaker, Canon John McGinley, and with insights from our Resourcing Hubs and Dr Mike Moynagh, topics discussed included different church planting models, sustainability of church plants, and the broader theological context to planting. And only a few days earlier, another Greenhouse launched in Wycombe Deanery. This brought together 7 small teams with creative and varied mission initiatives, in the hopes that these will be the start of new congregations. Initiatives such as a sewing and mending group, young people's ministry, a new cafe and 20s and 30s ministry were among the projects represented.
These moments reflect a vision for a truly mixed ecclesial ecology, propelled by the energy of ordaind and lay people up and down the Diocese. You can watch the recording of the Church Planting Forum, read more about the Wycombe Deanery Greenhouse, or get in touch if you have any questions.
Greenhouses offering 'recovery space' for local teams
In Mark 6: 30-32, Jesus invites us to 'come away with me', a message that is vital as we emerge from the challenges of the last few years. The disciples withdraw so that they can be renewed, restored, refreshed and sent out again. They come as they are, and they bring what they have.
Greenhouses are very much an invitation to come away, rest, and recover and also provide crucial space to regather and reconnect. Six Greenhouses are now up and running across the Diocese, offering a recovery space for teams - many of whom are feeling weary or discouraged after the challenges of the last few years. In March and June 2022, Wycombe and Aylesbury Town Greenhouses launched. Previously, in January, our Youth Greenhouse gathered three teams, and in Bicester and Islip, twenty-eight people gathered. In Greenhouse they can receive rest, refreshment and inspiration and direction. Resources are provided. They leave with perhaps ‘one small thing’, a next step.
Olly Shaw, Youth Pioneer and convenor of the Youth Greenhouse, described the experience of their recent gathering as a time of 'spiritual productivity'. More Greenhouses are emerging over the course of this year and teams are invited to come, just as you are, to recover and be renewed as you reflect on where God may take your idea, initiative or energy. Read more about Greenhouse here.
Sharing Jesus with people in our communities
Sharing Jesus with people outside church can feel daunting, and it can be hard to know where to start. There are some wonderful outreach initiatives happening all across our diocese, but how do we have those conversations about God, and what would it look like to introduce a faith element into our midweek groups and outreach activities?
FX Godsend provides a step-by-step journey for us to follow, taking our idea or our activity to a place where it becomes an intentional new worshipping community. Following a cycle of listening, loving, building community, sharing Jesus and starting church, it helps us approach each stage with resources and support. But even so, knowing how to take a community to a place of sharing Jesus can feel a big step.
The Sharing Jesus resource offers some ideas and guidance as to how you might take this step that can be helpful in every tradition and context. From how to start to discovering the Bible together, and all the way through to deepening and enriching people’s experience of faith and the Bible, the resource suggests activities and conversations to try with the community you seek to love and bring to know Jesus.
To hear how this might work in practice, the Revd Will Donaldson has shared his experiences of growing a new worshipping community out of a midweek activity in a short video. We pray for each one of you on this journey, and encourage you to share your experiences with us and you seek to share Jesus with others.