Growing new congregations

Embracing new expressions of worship is one of many ways you can grow your church

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The traditional Sunday worship forms continue to root, nourish and sustain us. These sit alongside new, differently creative forms of church, sometimes within the same parish - we often refer to this as a mixed ecology of church. Our team role is to enable parishes across the diocese to nurture and grow these new forms of church. 

Our vision is to grow the Diocese of Oxford that establishing new congregations in contextually appropriate ways is a normal part of parish life in every deanery and social context with a good knowledge and skill base to support this.

We are noticing that churches across the diocese are asking:

  • How do we reach those in our community who don’t currently come to church?

  • What is a new congregation?

  • How might starting a new congregation be a next missional step for us as a parish?

In the video below, Bishop Steven answers these questions and more:


Parish Development Advisors

Our Parish Development Advisers (PDAs) are members of our team and would normally be the first contact for parishes who wish to explore ‘growing your church’.

PDAs walk alongside you and your church in discerning and enabling a vision for God’s work in your community. A process of listening, experimenting and learning that leads to growing your church including establishing a new worshiping congregation might begin with you having a conversation with your PDA, and they can provide ongoing support along that journey including visiting your ministry or leadership team, speaking with your PCC or facilitating a discernment process. They and the team can connect you with a peer learning community (sometimes called a Greenhouse) and both specialist and coaching support.

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A Biblical vision for growing your church: enlarge the place of your tent

See, I am doing a new thing!

In Isaiah’s time, the people of God found themselves in a tough place, exiled and struggling. God calls them back to a close relationship with him and inspires them with a powerful picture of growth for the future (Isaiah 54:1–8). “Enlarge the place of your tent,” he encourages them, “and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out”.

Growth starts with what the people are familiar with, a tent; a place for family, welcome, business transactions and hospitality. God points them forward to a time when they will welcome all the world, gentiles included.

They were not required to dismantle what they had and build something different. They were to start from where they were, and enlarge their capacity to enable new people to join them.

“Enlarge the place of your tent” provides us too with a visual image, a vision, an imperative, a reality. If we’re to be obedient to God’s call, we need to recognise that we are all called to join in with what God is doing.

Further information

See our detailed questions and answers for more information to help you get going, and check out page nine of the Winter 23/4 edition of Pathways magazine for further information on enlarging the place of your tent.

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New ways of being church case studies

This case studies page gives some examples of churches which have recently started a new form of church.

Meet the new congregations team

Get to know the New Congregations team and see how they can support you.

Frequently asked questions

The following questions arose from the February 2023 Diocesan Synod workshop about the work of the New Congregations Team.

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