Bath Deanery Church Planting Strategy
We believe that the Deanery should be actively encouraging the planting of new churches/congregations and the revitalising of existing struggling congregations/churches as an effective evangelistic tool to reach the city and surrounding villages with the Gospel.
We acknowledge that church and congregation planting can feel very threatening and has the potential to become divisive. We believe that open and honest conversations between parishes over a long period of time are the way to move forward in this area without any animosity or feeling that parishes are in competition with each other. Planting can only take place in a context where we affirm one another’s ministries.
We believe the existing concentration of parishes and church buildings in the Deanery should not be seen as a hindrance to planting as research shows that new and smaller congregations are often very effective in reaching the community, and each congregation has its own emphasis appealing to different groups of people.
We recognise there are a number of different models for planting including:
- Churches planting within their own benefice.
- Small groups “called in” from one church to join a struggling church and bring new life – in-plants/reboots
- Direct support for smaller churches from larger churches invited and offered, including sharing resources.
- Planting new congregations into existing buildings alongside existing congregations.
- Planting across parish boundaries (usually into non-church buildings) with the agreement of the “receiving” incumbent.
- Establishing plants with “Bishop’s Mission Orders”.
However, plants need to be appropriate to the context.
- We believe there should be Deanery-wide discussions about where planting could be effective and what methods might be appropriate so that we can be pro-active rather than re-active as a Deanery. There are important questions about WHO, WHERE, WHEN and WHY for each new plant.
- We acknowledge that church and congregation planting can be very costly for all involved, and we want to offer the maximum support to all involved.
- We need to take account of other non-Anglican churches in Bath in developing our strategy and considering specific planting opportunities.
- We recognise that not every plant will come to fruition, but we believe it is right to take risks in this area and support one another, even in “failure”.
- We acknowledge that suitable buildings are not readily available in the Bath area, and we will want to consider working in partnership with other denominations and schools.
- Current levels of Parish Share can be a significant hindrance to the growth of new congregations in their first few years. We encourage the Diocese to consider some form of “relief” system for new congregations in the initial years, and a structure of Parish Share that does not tax numerical growth.
- The deployment of clergy inevitably has an impact on any strategy for planting, and we would encourage the Diocese to consider the implications of how we distribute clergy on any church/congregation planting strategy.
- Plants are great opportunities for developing lay leadership, but current constraints on licensing lay leaders (especially the nature and duration of training) can become barriers to moving forward at opportune times. We encourage the Diocese to explore greater flexibility in the licensing of lay leaders. We encourage greater information sharing of available lay posts and encouragement of vocations in the context of church planting.
- Following discussions, the deanery should set a target number of plants over a period of time. Such action does not constrain the process but encourages and gives permission.
- The Deanery should consider the appointment of a “mission enabler” to push this process forward.
Church Planting Strategy Task Group:
- Ian Lewis – St. Bart’s
- Paul Kenchington – Holy Trinity, Combe Down
- Sally Buddle – Holy Trinity, Combe Down
- Matthew Frankum – St. Luke’s
- Tim Buckley – Widcombe
- Planting for the Gospel – Graham Beynon
- Church Planting is for Wimps – Mike McKinley
- Church Planter Manual (Redeemer Church Planting Centre) – Tim Keller & J. Allen Thompson
- Planting Missional Churches – Ed Stetzer
- Bishop of London Lecture on Church Growth (Oct 2015)