Why are we here and why do we do what we do? Those are two questions that the Revd Emily Davis believes are important for any church to ask as it considers how it can be more Christ-like. In this short video, Emily describes how a brand-new resource has helped her parish, Easthampstead in Berkshire, to do just that. That resource is the Parish Planning Tool.

What is it?

The Parish Planning Tool is a new approach that enables church groups to figure out what is working well and move forward in new and transformed ways.
The Parish Planning Tool uses an approach known as Appreciative Inquiry. It’s a method that has been tried and tested in voluntary organisations here and abroad and, more recently, in churches.

A small selection of cards from the Parish Planning Toolkit

Emily’s verdict

“We got in touch with our Parish Development Advisor (PDA) and said to them that we’d like to start thinking about mission,” says Emily. The PDA joined a dozen PCC members for the first phases of the process. They went on two away days to consider how the tool might help them move forward as a Church. “We began with Dwelling in the Word to set the tone and frame the day and the people who came said that it helped them to focus on why they were there,” says Emily.

She said that the tool helped them as a church community to remind themselves what it means to be a Christ-like Church. “It’s easy to forget that in the midst of thinking about faculties and lighting and the day-to-day running of a parish.”

“It’s a really great resource and we have found it really beneficial here”

The process allowed the parish to identify that it was pleased with its diversity of worship and community outreach with the homeless shelter.

Emily felt the opportunity to talk in pairs before feeding back to the bigger group, was helpful as it allowed everyone to be heard.

Where can I get one?

The Parish Planning Tool is a pack of cards with facilitator guidelines, including a quick-start process for first-timers and optional cards and facilitator notes for more advanced work. One PPT is available for free to every parish, benefice and deanery in the Diocese of Oxford. Additional sets cost £10 each. Want to find out more? Join one of the Parish Planning Tool training sessions taking place across the Diocese. Contact your Parish Development Advisor to find out more.