Church multiplication is one of many ways the Church of England seeks to share in apostolic mission by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and drawing people into the adventure of discipleship.
Recognising that these terms are used in different ways, the New Congregations programme understands church plants to include new churches or new congregations within an existing parish that replicate the parent church.
New Christian communities (which the diocese often refers to as new congregations) come to birth among people who do not currently attend church and vary in style to fit the context. They are sometimes called fresh expressions or missional communities. They include messy church, sports church, cafe church, forest church and more.
Church grafts or revitalisations seek to renew an existing church by grafting leadership, people and resources into them. They may take the form of a church plant or new Christian communit, depending on the context.
In addition, churches should seek to build creative partnerships for mission, especially between well-resourced and poorer parishes to support mission in the latter areas, respecting the contributions and needs of each.
17 of our churches were represented at the Church Planting Forum in March, where we heard from John McGinley, Mike Moynagh and our Resourcing Hubs about their experiences with new Christian communities. There was wonderful wisdom in the room. Have a watch of the forum.
Our Resourcing Hubs
There are seven Resourcing Hubs across the diocese, called to give away their time, resources and expertise to grow new congregations in different ways. Our Resourcing Hubs are:
Greyfriars, Reading - seeking to plant churches into deprived areas of this growing urban centre
NARNiA - North Aylesbury Resourcing Network, made up of four smaller churches in the North Aylesbury Area wanting to plant into new housing, and grow new communities through an Aylesbury Greenhouse
St Andrew's, High Wycombe - nurturing a Greenhouse, identifying planting opportunities and growing new missional communities in and around Wycombe
St Frideswide's, Milton Keynes - using community organising to grow new worshipping communities in nearby housing estates
St Mary's, Cogges - pioneering Greenhouse and mission to reach more rural areas of the diocese
St Mary's, Milton Keynes - drawing on extensive experience to revitalise and plant into a fast-growing town
St Paul's, Slough - bringing their intercultural experience to support the growth of new worshipping communities among UKME
Stories of revitalisations, plants and grafts
Within the last year, Greyfriars, Reading have revitalised a church now known as Reading Gateway, with Rector Nick Hill taking a planting team from Greyfriars. Together as a church community they want to see South Reading experiencing and being transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ. There are two services on a Sunday, and Alpha Courses are underway.
St Mary's Bletchley have revitalised Whaddon Way Church, led by Revd Peter Landry and his planting team. This officially launched in February 2022 with a live-streamed service. Whaddon Way is a long-standing church in the area with a wonderful history of community engagement and social action, and this is an opportunity to renew and re-energise.
Please pray for these two revitalisations as they begin their new adventure, we will continue to share their stories with you.
We also celebrate the revitalisations of St Peter's Quarrendon, part of the NARNiA Resourcing Network, and St Mary's and St George's from St Andrew's, High Wycombe. St Peter's Quarrendon has grown from a very small, elderly congregation to a thriving parish church. Using appreciative enquiry, Pete and Ali Wheeler have deployed their pioneering skills to reach out to those in the community, starting with a breakfast church, then setting up ministries such as a community garden and a fitness class. As a revitalisation themselves, they now have hopes to grow other new congregations in their resourcing role and nurture a Greenhouse in North Aylesbury.
In 2018, after much prayer and lamenting about where God might be leading St Andrew’s Church, Hatters Lane, a small team of people gathered from the church and began a new journey of church planting in the nearby dwindling congregation of St Mary and St George.
With funding from the Diocese of Oxford, Wycombe Deanery, New Wine and Love Wycombe, a Pioneer Minister, the Revd Jonny Dade, was appointed and began leading the church planting team. Fairly quickly a process of casting vision, adapting the church building for modern worship and calling people into specific roles developed.
By January 2019, a team of 35 people had moved to SMG to help grow the congregation and engage with the local communities of the socio-economically diverse areas of Sands and Castlefield, with extremes of wealth and poverty. Since starting the plant the congregation has grown from 25 to 60 regular Sunday attendees. This includes new families who have moved into the area and those who have been on the edge of church and reconnected by finding a home in the SMG church community.
Inspired by these stories? Please get in touch to find out more.