Learning communities (Greenhouses)

New Congregations - You guide to greenhouses cover.Everything you need to know about Learning communities (Greenhouses) in the Diocese of Oxford

Your guide to Greenhouses outlines everything you need to know about Greenhouses

What they are, how they are formed, what happens in a Greenhouse, and how they can support every type of mission initiative, midweek activity, or missional community to become a new congregation - answers to all your questions are here.

If you have more questions, you can speak to our New Congregations Programme Leader, the Revd Sarah Flashman, for more information.

Download the booklet


Stories of Learning communities (Greenhouses)

Aylesbury Town

Our aim of growing New Congregations through the Greenhouse programme has made further progress with the launch of the Aylesbury Town Green house in June 2022.

Phil White, Vicar of St Mary’s Broughton and Resource Hub Leader for the NARNiA team, writes:

“It was great to finally meet for our first Aylesbury Town Greenhouse in June this year at St Peter’s church. There were five churches represented and we had about nine mission projects across the churches.

“We started with introductions, looked at the three questions - 'what’s it really like now?', 'where do we want to get to?', and ‘How are we going to get there - what’s the next step?'.

"We also had brunch together which was a perfect opportunity to chat to people with similar ideas and from other churches. There was a lot of energy in the room and people really enjoyed the morning. We fitted the whole thing into three hours, which I think felt manageable to people and they were all keen to meet again in the autumn. We have decided to have our second gathering in October in order to gain momentum rather than wait six months.

“I heard one person say, “I wish Jane could have been here - she would have really got what we’re doing in our cafe and would have been encouraged.” People found the three sections really helpful - all based around the questions. Next time we plan to introduce the Godsend material.

“In the intervening months we are focussing on keeping the momentum going - we are working on the best method, using the best apps. We’re looking forward to meeting again in October and we think there will be a couple of other churches joining us as well.” 


OnTwo women and a man laugh as they chat together 26 March 2022, seven teams from four churches gathered at the new Trinity Centre in Hazlemere to launch the Wycombe Greenhouse. An exciting variety of initiatives were amongst the teams, each one seeking to intentionally move their initiative towards a new worshipping community. The projects included:

  • A newly opened café
  • One reaching men outside the church
  • A literacy project
  • A young families Mission Community
  • One reaching 20s and 30s
  • A Mental Health café – Renew Space
  • A sewing and mending community group

The teams will reflect, pray and act on next steps over the coming months, before they meet again in the Autumn. If you would like to join the Greenhouse please contact Sarah Flashman, our New Congregations Enabler, to find out more.

North Milton Keynes

A group stand looking down at large hoops on the floorOn Saturday 5 March 2022, we celebrated the launch of a Greenhouse in Milton Keynes.

Convened by lay pioneer Katharine Crowsley, curate Revd Ayo Audu and with the support of the New Congregations Enabler, eight teams gathered to prayerfully reflect on how they can turn their mission initiatives into intentional worshipping communities.

The Revd Sarah Flashman, New Congregations Enabler, commented:

"The mission initiatives were varied and exiting. Everyone seemed to engage really well and all posted plans by the end of the launch. By the time we left, Katharine had set up a group WhatsApp. The next gathering will be on Saturday 1 October!"

A wonderful lunch was provided by volunteers from other churches, which was a real blessing to the day, and there was time for worship in amongst the conversations and planning.

If anyone would like to find out more about joining this Greenhouse or another one, please contact our New Congregations Enabler.

Bicester Deanery Greenhouse

On 29 January the Bicester Deanery Greenhouse was launched, attended by some 28 members. Ian Biscoe, the Bicester Greenhouse convenor gave the following brief summary:

Some attendees were focused and organised into teams while most were there exploring the way ahead and thinking about the opening questions;

  • Which group of people are you wanting to love and serve?
  • What have you started to do already?
  • What will you do next? 

Teams were invited to think about where they felt they were on the Loving First Cycle, using circles on the floor, and then prayerfully reflect on a next step for them as a team. The next gathering will take place in early summer 2022. 

Youth Greenhouse

A woman smiles at the camera. A Lego creation is on the table in front of herThe Youth Greenhouse launched in October 2021 and has sinced gathered its teams to think about next steps. Hospitality is a really important part of what this Greenhouse offers to teams, as well as time and space to reflect on where they are now and where they would like to be. 

Below are some reactions from some of the teams who came to the first launch:

“Greenhouse was really encouraging! The activities and time out to reflect gave me even more enthusiasm to move ahead with where God is taking this project, and meeting the community helped solidify the importance of these groups throughout God’s family.”

"I found it really helpful and uplifting! You both organised and led it really well and I was really impressed. So thanks again! I have put the next one in my diary."

"I was really impressed with our first in-person Greenhouse meeting. Olly and Emma had a warm welcome with refreshments, followed by an interactive game to gage what we wanted to get out of the meeting. All the concerns and curiosities were either met by their talk, by general chat or by many opportunities for questions and answers. I came away feeling engaged, empowered and with a clear mind of what the project was about and what their aims were for the future. The curry was pretty good too!"

"It was really great to spend time together as like mind people looking to serve the young people in our communities. Next time we will explore together how we got on with our aims and see what God has been teaching us as we have stepped out in faith."

If you want to explore reaching out to unchurched young people in your parish, then get in touch with Ian and he will be happy to chat and possibly link you in to the Greenhouse.

Witney Greenhouse

St Mary’s Cogges have made great progress in forming and launching the Witney Greenhouse in September 2021 with 12 teams committed – this means twelve groups looking to grow new worshipping communities through the Loving First Cycle across the range of church traditions and social contexts (including rural parishes). Simon Kirby, St Marys Cogges Project Leader, writes:

"In September the Witney Greenhouse had their first gathering. It took place on a Saturday morning in Standlake Village Hall and there were 30 people representing 12 projects. The projects were at various stages of development, with some still in the planning stage, some having just started and some in full flow."

"The morning was hugely encouraging - ideas were shared, plans were made and goals were set for the next stages in the projects. The teams will meet again in January to share stories of how things have developed and to continue to encourage to be creative and outward looking."

If you are in the Witney Deanery and want to find out more, then get in touch with Simon and he will be happy to chat and possibly link you in to the Greenhouse.


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Page last updated: Wednesday 29th November 2023 1:00 PM

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