A more Christ-like Church

The Development Fund

how and why you should apply

Picture of the Development Fund Forms

We are called to put into deep water and let down the nets: to tell the Christian story with love and hope and confidence. Not every new initiative to put out into deep water needs funding to get going, but some do. Parishes, benefices and deaneries can now bid for grants from the Development Fund to enable missional creativity and support local Christ-like Church projects.

This page contains everything you need to know about the fund, including the eligibility criteria and application forms. As with any grant application process, there is a lot of information at first glance. We suggest reading sections 1 – 4 in order and click the [+] buttons to expand the information panels you are interested to explore. 

1. About the Development Fund

The amount of money available to parishes, benefices and deaneries in the Diocese of Oxford is c. £1m each year over the next three years. Grant applications to the Development Fund must support local projects that are missionally creative, reflect where God is at work in the community and encourage wider learning across the Diocese.

The Development Fund is open to all, but it is likely to be most helpful to parishes that have limited financial resources to invest in missional activity. The fund aims to be particularly helpful to those parishes which, after paying their Parish Share and other essential running costs, have very little financial resources to invest in missional activity. We know that even modest grants can make a significant difference in such parishes.

2. Are there limitations on what we can apply for ?

Two types of grant are available to support missional activity by any parish, benefice, deanery or chaplaincy in the Diocese of Oxford. Find out more:

Short term, one-off grants are available to parishes and benefices to support an event or to kick start a new initiative. Grant applications will range from small modest sums up to £2,500. Deaneries may apply for a Mission Development Grant to distribute themselves to local parishes.

Grants are available for larger initiatives and long-term programmes that require substantial sums. An organisation may only make one Tier 2 application per year and, if successful, may not reapply to the fund for at least 2 years after the last (successful) submission deadline date.

Grant applications in this tier will range from £2,500 to many thousands, though Development Fund grants will not normally exceed £80k in a single grant, or £200k over a maximum 5 years.

Further information about applying for a Tier 2 Grant can be found in Guidelines for Applicants, available to download from section 4 of this page.

Any parish, benefice, deanery or chaplaincy in the Diocese of Oxford may apply. Applications linked to schools should be made through the relevant parish (or deanery). In most cases we expect applications to be signed by the parish incumbent (or for a deanery, the Area Dean or Lay Chair) and any grants paid to a PCC (or Deanery) account.

There are three submission deadlines per year for Tier 1 and Tier 2 Grant applications. The deadline dates for applications are midnight on:

30 September 2019
31 January 2020
31 May 2020
30 September 2020
31 January 2021
31 May 2021
30 September 2021
31 January 2022


The Development Fund is open to supporting a wide range of missional activity. This includes (but is not restricted to) supporting initiatives which align with our seven areas of focus. Please note that applications for grants to support Fresh Expressions of church and New Congregations, and work to develop School Chaplaincy or Parish-School relationships should be made through the Development Fund as this avoids the need for separate funding mechanisms.

Limitations and restrictions

There are some things which the Development Fund is not intended to support, such as routine repairs to buildings, payment of regular running costs (utility bills, insurance, parish share etc.) and activity which is already deemed to be funded by current financial arrangements. Since grant requests may exceed the available funds, the Diocese may look less favourably on applications for work where other grant sources are available.

3. Priorities for the Development Fund

The aim of the Development Fund is to encourage church communities in five areas. Click the [+] buttons below for a detailed description of each:

We are called to be a more Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s world: contemplative, compassionate and courageous. The list below touches on each of these three marks of a Christ-like Church. You’ll find further information in the guidance document Signs of a more Christ-like Church, available to download in section 4 of this page.

Other resources are available too: Four study guides written by Bishop Steven explore what this means for us, our families and the wider Church; and the new Parish Planning Tool will help your church recognise where God is already at work in your community, and how you can best join in.


According to the gospels, Jesus often withdrew to spend time apart with God (Mark 1.35; Luke 5.16). Jesus calls the twelve disciples to be with him before they are sent out (Mark 3.14). In the great image of the vine, Jesus calls his disciples to abide in him so that God’s life may bear fruit in our lives.

To be a contemplative Church means:

  • To be deeply rooted in Christ as a branch in the vine, through prayer and worship, word and sacrament
  • To be sustained in joy and hope in the midst of a suffering world
  • To seek the continual grace and renewal of the Holy Spirit in our lives
  • To value deep wisdom and offer meaning
  • To take our theology seriously as dialogue with God as well as talk about God
  • To live in healthy rhythms of prayer and rest and work and be fully human
  • To be good news in an over active and busy world
  • To offer the gift of silence, still places and moments of encounter with the living God
  • To listen deeply to ourselves, to the world in which we live and to one another
  • To discern God’s call to us as individuals and communities
  • To wrestle with God
  • To surrender our doing in order to make space for stillness and dwelling, that God might be free to do and act within us.

“Contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.” Rowan Williams


The compassion of Jesus is evident from beginning to end in the gospels. Jesus is deeply moved in his encounters with the sick and bereaved. His compassion shapes his priorities from beginning to end (Mark 1.41, John 11.33-35).

The Church is called to demonstrate this same compassion: to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for the sick and visit those in prison (Matthew 25.37). Churches are called to be communities of kindness, gentleness and love.

To be a compassionate Church means:

  • To listen to the communities around us and to the wider world
  • To identify especially with the lost, the least and the last
  • To live out our faith as Christian disciples in acts of kindness and generosity
  • To act together to serve the poor, feed the hungry and welcome the stranger
  • To mourn for the suffering in the world and take that suffering seriously
  • To be tender and gentle with one another, bearing one another’s burdens
  • To find together a radical new Christian inclusion in the church
  • To provide places of hospitality and welcome for all in our church buildings
  • To offer to all, in love, the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ
  • To nurture children in school communities marked by compassion
  • To steward and care for the earth
  • To take action for peace and for justice.

“Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life . . . the Church’s very credibility is shown in the way she shows mercy and compassionate love . . . Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope.” Pope Francis


Jesus walks towards difficulty and suffering and takes the way of the cross. He sets his face towards Jerusalem out of love for the world (Luke 9.51; John 11.14-15).

Jesus calls his disciples to follow in this way of the cross (Mark 8.34, Matthew 16.24). The Church is a community of missionary disciples, gathered and sent to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5.13-16). We are called to make a difference through courageous lives of love.

To be a courageous Church means:

  • To deepen our vision of what it means to be human, of a just and peaceful world: to dare to practise hope
  • To seek to live our lives to the glory of God
  • To make a difference in our local communities through seeking justice and working for peace
  • To seek reconciliation in the Church and in the world
  • To be bold and consistent in our evangelism and witness to our Christian faith
  • To bear the cost of our discipleship through the whole course of our lives
  • To imagine and bring to birth new Christian communities in many different places
  • To work in creative partnership with other Churches, faith communities and organisations
  • To teach the Christian faith clearly and with confidence to children, young people and adults
  • To invest the resources we have been given boldly for the sake of the kingdom of God not hoard them in fear
  • To reshape our buildings continually for the sake of God’s mission in the present and future
  • To seek to reverse the decline of the Church in this generation.

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.” C.S. Lewis

To encourage discernment: noticing where God is at work; distinguishing between good ideas and God ideas.

We want to encourage our ability to discern God at work in the world around us and in our own lives, and to respond by joining in with what God is already doing. Ways of thinking about discernment include:

  • What makes this a ‘God idea’ rather than a ‘good idea’?
  • In what way are you doing something different because you are listening to God?

The new Parish Planning Tool, created by the Diocese of Oxford is a great way to discern where God is at work in your community.

We want to encourage parishes, deaneries, schools and other Christian communities across the Diocese to be ‘missionally creative’ – finding imaginative solutions to missional challenges.

This does not require completely new ideas every time: being missionally creative might be about the way a congregation adapts an existing idea to their own parish or community. We take our definition of mission from the Anglican Communion’s ‘Five marks of Mission’:

  1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  2. To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  3. To respond to human need by loving service
  4. To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the Earth.

Missional creativity should shift our sense of what’s important: that may mean re-prioritising tasks and laying down some of what we already do.

To learn together, helped through a diversity of experimentation.

We want to encourage learning across the Diocese. Groups will learn as they discern and then carry out missionally creative work.

We want to encourage groups to:

  • reflect on what they have learned (this helps us recognise what we have learned and what we could do differently in the future) and
  • share what they have learned with other groups facing similar challenges elsewhere in the Diocese.

In sharing our learning and hearing what others have learned, we can better discern our next steps.


We also want to encourage diverse experimentation. Addressing missional challenges inevitably involves experimentation with new ideas: some will work, others will not. By supporting a variety of experimental ideas we will achieve a broad range of learning.

To support initiatives that are sustainable and would not happen without the fund’s support.

We want to encourage sustainable initiatives, underpinned by:

  • Planning which seeks a balance between:
    • realistic levels of input (people, resources, time and money), and reasonable expectations of hoped-for outcomes;
    • short-term ‘quick wins’ and longer-term sustainability and viability
  • Flexible approaches which allow for adaptation along the way in the event of unexpected opportunities and challenges
  • Reasonable expectations of an ongoing legacy of benefits after the Development Fund grant(s) end.

Many parishes commit much of their income to Parish Share with little remaining for missional activity, so the Development Fund aims to encourage such parishes to undertake imaginative work that would not otherwise have taken place.

4. Guidance notes and application forms

Everything you need to make a grant application is available in the documentation and forms in the table below (click the [+] button to expand each panel). 

Application forms are available  in Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF formats. While we encourage as many applicants as possible to complete and submit the form electronically, if you wish to complete your application in hard copy contact the Development Fund manager, Janet Rogers, for a pack of paper forms. She can be reached at: Church House Oxford, Langford Locks, Kidlington, Oxford, OX5 1GF or by email at commonvision@oxford.anglican.org.

It is essential that you read this document before completing your grant application form

Download Guidelines for Applicants (PDF)

The document Guidelines for Applicants provides detailed guidelines to accompany each application form.

An additional guidance document, Signs of a Christ-like Church will help you describe how any project supported by a successful grant application will help you to become a more Christ-like church for the sake of God’s world.

Download Signs of a Christ-like Church (PDF)

Tier 1 grant application form – parishes and benefices

Download a Tier 1 Grant application form: Microsoft Word format | PDF version

Tier 1 grants are available to parishes and benefices. They are are for short term, one-off grants to kick start a new initiative. Tier 1 grant applications will range from small modest sums up to £2,500.

Deaneries may apply for a Mission Development Grant to distribute themselves to local parishes. A separate form is available for Mission Development Grants. 

Tier 2 Grants are available for larger initiatives and long-term programmes that require substantial sums. Grant applications in this tier will range from £2,500 to many thousands, though Development Fund grants will not normally exceed £80k in a single grant, or £200k over a maximum 5 years.

Download a Tier 2 Grant application form: Microsoft Word format | PDF version

Mission Development Grants – deaneries

Deaneries may apply for a Mission Development Grant to distribute themselves to local parishes.

Download the Mission Development Grant application form: Microsoft Word | PDF version

For longer projects, we ask for monitoring feedback every six months, using the template set out in the End of Project Report. If you are required to send feedback every six months we will automatically send a reminder email to you when the report is due.

We ask all grant recipients to submit an End of Project Report. This helps you to reflect on the work you have done, recognise what you have learned and how you have become a more Christ-like church. It will also help us understand the impact of our Development Funding across the Diocese.

Download the End of Project Report: MS Word format | PDF version

The Development Fund offers grant funding to support a wide range of parish and deanery-level projects. This privacy notice explains how personal data is handled during the grant administration process.

Download the Privacy Notice for Diocese of Oxford Development Fund applications (PDF)

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.