In the Diocese of Oxford, Parish Development Advisers (or PDAs) are there to support and enable the mission and ministry of people, parishes, benefices and deaneries through discernment, training, consultancy and encouragement. PDAs help parishes and deaneries in all sorts of ways, which can include resolving conflict and preparing a parish profile during a vacancy. In the Episcopal Area of Oxford this is part of the role of the Archdeacon of Oxford. PDAs work closely with the Area Bishop and Archdeacon and are also part of the diocesan wide Department of Mission.
How the advisers can help your parish
How do we find a vision for our church?
The PDA often works with PCCs, leadership and other groups in the Church exploring vision, strategic direction and goal creation. Articulation of vision is important, but rolling out vision is often a more difficult task. PDAs offer support and advise during this process. Many churches find that taking groups away for a day or weekend helps the process and the PDA can be available to facilitate this.
Over recent years, PDAs have used Robert Warren’s Healthy Church material to help churches develop their vision.
What do we do when our vicar leaves?
The PDA usually works with the parish to help them think about their future direction and therefore the particular gifts and skills they will be looking for in their new minister. We offer guidance on the preparation of the parish/benefice profile and the person specification. Depending on the Archdeaconry, working with the Area Dean, we will run through the vacancy process – what happens when etc.
How can our ministry team work together more effectively
PDAs are invited to work with various teams in a parish/benefice to increase their effectiveness. PDAs have worked with clergy, ministry and leadership teams, and in some cases, working with particular focus groups where a team has been formed in the short term and for a discrete purpose e.g. mission, church plant etc. Issues such as communication, power and authority, delegation, team dynamics, understanding collaboration and how to release gifts/ministries within others can be covered.
Gifts and Skills
How can we encourage more shared ministry in our parish?
As parishes and deaneries explore ways of working together more collaboratively, PDAs can be invited to help groups to recognise and evaluate the gifts and skills that they already possess. This can be an affirming and encouraging exercise whether it is about spiritual or practical gifts. It can be a vital part of teambuilding or of creating a taskforce for a particular project.
How can our Council work together better?
Church Councils are important leadership groups within the Church. Often their members receive little or no induction into the role and sometimes, in hard-pressed parishes, there is insufficient energy to look beyond the practical aspects of church leadership.
PDAs can work alongside Church Councils to clarify the purpose of the role, to advise on issues such as chairmanship, agendas, conduct and content of meetings, and to encourage the development of good practice. They may lead – or help Church Councils to design – Parish or Benefice Away Days.
Fresh Expressions of Church
What is a “fresh expression” and how might we start one?
All over the UK people are asking how they can re-connect with the majority of people who have no contact with church. For many, the response is to look at different forms of worship, often not on a Sunday. In other places, new initiatives in places such as sports clubs, the work-place or in after schools clubs seek to “build church” in new ways.
If you want to talk to someone about ideas you have, or want to know more about what others are trying, please get in touch.
In Oxford Diocese, we also supporting a number of “Cutting Edge Ministries” – pioneer forms of church .
Some other websites worth visiting are:
How can our church grow in faith?
We believe that the Christian faith is a lifelong journey with God and that there is always something to learn. Often that journey will be with others, probably those in our church and sometimes it will be on our own as we wrestle with life’s questions and challenges.
A growing, developing faith is vital for any church’s health. PDA’s are here to help your church consider the ways in which this can be enabled and supported. For example:
- What kind of nurture programme might be best for us?
- What resources are available for small groups?
- How might a parish Quiet Day help us to listen to God better? (and who might lead it?)
- What is a retreat and where might I go one?
Particular challenges face our rural churches, most of which are in multi-parish benefices. PDAs can facilitate discussions about the role of the incumbent, shared ministry and leadership; use of buildings; governance and point towards resources aimed at enabling rural churches to think creatively about their mission and their future.