The Parish Planning Tool

discerning God’s call for your church

God has a vision for the future of your church. Every church has its strengths, achievements, opportunities and green shoots of potential. The Parish Planning Tool supports the mission of your church to become more Christ-like, helping you to see where God is already at work and how you can join in.

The Parish Planning Tool will help you uncover the things that really work and carry them forward in new and transformed ways. It’s a process that acknowledges the past, celebrates the present and reveals a vision for the future. The pack, together with accompanying online resources (scroll down this page to access), contains everything you need to navigate God’s call for your church. It is suitable for use by every parish/benefice in the Diocese of Oxford, whatever your local context.


Introducing the Parish Planning Tool

The Parish Planning Tool will help you uncover the things that really work and carry them forward in new and transformed ways. It’s a process that acknowledges the past, celebrates the present and reveals a vision for the future. This short film below looks at the experience of one of the first churches to adopt the Parish Planning Tool.


How to order your pack

A single pack of the Parish Planning Tool is made available to each parish or benefice and each deanery free of charge. You must be the incumbent of a church in the Diocese of Oxford, or an elected member of the PCC, to order a free copy for your parish/benefice. For parishes outside the Diocese of Oxford and our parishes requiring additional packs, the Parish Planning Tool is also available to purchase at our online store.



Our common vision is for a more Christ-like Church: contemplative, compassionate and courageous for the sake of God’s world. A Church more like Jesus and the Lord we serve.

The Parish Planning Tool is designed to support the mission of your church to become more Christ-like. It will help you to see where God is at work and join in, by tapping into the wisdom of people in your church and the local community. The Parish Planning Tool will help you uncover the things that work in your context and carry them forward in new and transformed ways. It’s a process that acknowledges the past, celebrates the present and reveals a vision for the future. It calls everyone involved into living out the promise that the Lord is here, His Spirit is with us so that every church can be a place of hope and confidence in God… and in themselves.

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 too.

We believe that

  • Every church, group or community has something positive at its heart.
  • Churches, groups and communities have more confidence and are better equipped for the journey if they carry with them something from their shared past…
  •  … but the past should have life. It should not be dry bones.
  • Carefully framed questions can shift our thinking and release change.
  • The language we use, and the things we focus on, can free or restrict our thoughts.
  • Everyone experiences things in different ways. Differences need to be heard and valued.


Resources for facilitators


1. About this page

This page contains additional information, training dates and additional downloadable resources for the Parish Planning Tool. If you’ve not done so already, please take time to familiarise yourself with the contents of the Parish Planning Tool pack and approach. Once you’ve done that, come back to this page.

As with any meaningful process, there is a lot of information to take in. We suggest reading sections 1 – 7 in order and click the [+] buttons to expand the information panels you are interested to explore. Anything missing? Click the link at the bottom of the page to let us know. 


…used it for the first time this morning on our vision day with Rhodri. We *loved* it! Found it really positive, inspiring and fruitful.

Emily DavisSt Michael’s Easthampstead

One of the best conferences I think we’ve had in recent years. The Parish Planning Tool looks excellent.

Sue SimpsonLLM and archdeaconry advisor

2. Help and support

The Parish Planning Tool is suitable for use by every parish/benefice in our Diocese. The pack and these online resources contain everything you need to help you navigate God’s call for your church. If you would like to talk the process through with someone, or if this process isn’t something that you feel able to facilitate yourself, please contact your Parish Development Adviser in your archdeaconry for help and support.

3. Credits and copyright

The Parish Planning Tool is based on Appreciative Inquiry theory. It has been developed by the Mission and Communication Departments in the Diocese of Oxford, and thoroughly tested by our parish development advisors. Delegates at the 2019 High Leigh conference also provided invaluable feedback as we were developing the tool. If you would like to develop the tool for use outside the Diocese, please get in touch.

Rhodri Bowen
Parish Development Adviser (Berkshire Archdeaconry)
01865 208296
rhodri.bowen@oxford.anglican.org

Revd Gill Lovell
Parish Development Advisor (Buckingham Archdeaconry)
07391 416089
gill.lovell@oxford.anglican.org

Revd Charles Chadwick
Parish Development Adviser (Archdeaconry of Dorchester)
01865 208246
charles.chadwick@oxford.anglican.org

Revd Peter Groves
Assistant Archdeacon of Oxford
peter.groves@oxford.anglican.org

Copyright

All Parish Planning Tool content (online and printed materials, card and icon system) are copyright Diocese of Oxford. The content must not be used outside the Diocese or adapted in any way without our permission.

Supporting the wider Church

We are keen to support the wider Church and interested to hear from other Dioceses and church organisations who would like to create a version the tool for their own use. If this is you, please get in touch with us at communications@oxford.anglican.org

We were inspired by Appreciating Church (see further reading) and challenged by delegates at High Leigh to simplify and refine our approach.

The project was conceived and led by Andrew Anderson Gear and Steven Buckley. Project team members were Rev Gill Lovell, Rev Charles Chadwick, Rhodri Bowen and Ruth Hamilton-Jones.

Bishop Steven, The Ven. Guy Elsmore, and The Ven. Neil Warwick contributed to the development of this resource, together with attendees at the Common Vision Conference at High Leigh in Spring 2019.

Our thanks to everyone in the Mission Department for their support and patience through several iterations of this project. As ever, 15 North Design and KMS Litho looked after design and print.

Downloadable resources

We will add to the library of downloads and other online resources, so do be sure to check this page regularly.


4. Presentation slides

Facilitators may wish to display question cards on a screen, or support the welcome and introduction session with a few slides. Click the [+] button below to select the resources you would like to download and use. Where possible we have made slides available in PowerPoint and PDF format.

5. Additional cards

It’s a good idea to have Interview, Discover and Dream cards for each pair of people. This section also includes additional Dwelling in the Word cards that are not in the Parish Planning Tool pack. Download a PDF to print out the cards, or display them using a projector.

Slides that you can use to introduce the Parish Planning Tool sessions

It may be helpful to have a printed copy of the process diagram from the instruction leaflet inside the Parish Planning Tool pack.

Coming soon – all of the Dwelling in the Word verses on individual cards to download and print out.

6. Facilitator resources

In this section are resources for facilitators only, such as examples of statements of intent and delivery planning tools. We will update this section regularly, so be sure to check back for new resources and templates you can use.

7. Training workshops

These evening events (each takes place 7:30pm to 9:30pm) introduce the Parish Planning Tool as a process designed to support the mission of your church to become more Christ-like, a place of hope and confidence in God… and in yourselves.

The evening will be led by Andrew Anderson-Gear, Diocesan Director of Mission, and Gill Lovell, Parish Development Advisor.

  • Princes Risborough: Wedneday 22nd April 2020, The Chapter House, St Mary’s Church, Church Lane, Princes Risborough HP27 9AW

In early 2020 there will be evenings across the Berkshire Archdeaconry led by Andrew Anderson-Gear, Diocesan Director of Mission, and Rhodri Bowen, Parish Development Adviser, as follows:

Monday 24 February 2020 – St Nicolas, Earley

Tuesday 3 March 2020 – St Luke’s, Maidenhead

Thursday 19 March 2020 –  Thatcham Park School

These occasions will be an opportunity to learn more about the principles that lie behind the Parish Planning Tool, to discover how you can use it, and to hear some examples of good practice. The evening will equip you to use it in your parish or benefice.

Refreshments will be served from 7.00pm, with the evening beginning at 7.30pm and concluding by 9.30pm.

If you have any queries regarding the event please contact Bev Higgs: bev.higgs@oxford.anglican.org

The evenings will be led by Andrew Anderson-Gear, Diocesan Director of Mission and the Revd Charles Chadwick, Parish Development Advisor.

  • Woodstock: Tuesday 21 January: St Mary Magdalene Church, OX20 1UG
  • Abingdon: Tuesday 4 February: The Barn, Christ Church, OX14 1PL
  • Banbury: Wednesday 11 March: St Hugh’s Church, OX16 1GF
  • Benson: Wednesday 3 June, St Helen’s Church, OX10 6SF


We want the information on this page to be useful and easy to read. If you have a suggestion for improvement, then please let us know.