Growing new congregations

This focus area is about reaching out to people who are untouched by Church because they are physically, or culturally, just too far away. It’s an ambitious plan to grow as many as 750 new congregations in the Diocese. But it’s not about new church buildings. This is a response to rapid social and environmental changes across this Diocese. If we are to succeed, it must be a plan for us all: congregations of every churchmanship; rural, suburban and urban parishes; and churches large and small.

Investing in new congregations

Jesus was present and engaged with his people and as a Christ-like church we are called to be present and engaged in every community: big and small, urban and rural, old and new, right where that community is. But did you know that:

  • In our larger conurbations, less than 1 person in 100 attends a Church of England Sunday service.
  • Areas of our towns and cities are experiencing high levels of poverty and inequality, and have been under-resourced in clergy.
  • A population at least the size of Edinburgh will move into this diocese over the next fifteen years.

These are pastoral challenges, but a great mission opportunity. We want to reach out to those who are untouched by traditional church because they are physically, or culturally, just too far away. If every church in this Diocese began to plan for at least one new congregation or missional project, then we could see as many as 750 new congregations.

Not every initiative requires funding to get going and we want to encourage creativity and experimentation in approaches to growing new congregations across the Diocese. The Parish Planning tool will help you to discern where God is already at work and what might be needed next, and our Development Fund is there to support you in growing new congregations and other Christ-like Church initiatives.

Case study coming soon:
a church graft in Henley

Different ways to grow

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions are new forms of church that emerge within contemporary culture and engage primarily with those who don’t ‘go to church’. This might be a youth congregation based in a school, a Messy Church that grows new disciples, or a church for those suffering addictions. There is no single model, and the possibilities are endless.

Church grafts & church plants

Church plants take members from an existing congregation to a new place. Church grafts are people moving from one church to another, often to assist a church that is struggling, or into a new area of housing. There are lots of examples of this kind of activity already taking place in the diocese. Look out for a new film telling the inspirational story of a church graft in Henley a little later this year

Resourcing hubs

Resourcing hubs are large churches that want to ‘give themselves away.’ They offer resources, ideas and a forum for learning where it is needed, where it is wanted and in a way that’s right for the local context. Our first resourcing hub is Greyfriars Church in Reading. Thanks to additional funding, a curate will put down roots in the deanery and gather a team around them ahead of grafting into a local parish.

In 2020…

The Diocese has been awarded in principle funding of £2m from the national Church to support our vision for new congregations and our own Development Fund is already complementing this focus area.

Overall, we hope to invest c.£4m in growing new congregations over the next five years. By God’s grace that investment will translate into at least 200 new congregations of any shape and size, c. ten new congregations of 100+ size, at least three Resource Hubs of 250+, who are able to grow new congregations, and further strategic intervention in an area of high mission potential.

People / Church

What you can do

Interested to find out more, or need to talk through your plans? Revd Will Donaldson, our Director of new congregations, is keen to hear from everyone with an interest in church grafting/planting and fresh expressions of church. Get in touch with him here.