We have been seeing a rise in new housing developments both large and small across our diocese. These offer wonderful mission opportunities for the Church. People moving into a new home are looking to make a fresh start so theres a chance to help them make church part of settling into their new community. Some of these newcomers will have been regular churchgoers before but if we dont invite them to join us, then before long they may well give up on church for good after their move.
This short guide helps both local churches and the wider diocese think about what is needed to reach these expanding parts of our local communities. There are two levels of working to consider. First how a local parish church can engage with small developments of up to 20 - 30 houses that appear here and there. Second how deaneries, Areas and the wider diocese can engage with large new estates as they are built.
Mission to Smaller Developments
Here are some practical mission ideas and proven action ideas.
Practical Mission Ideas
- Draw together a group of those with a concern to welcome people to your community.
- Recognise and understand what is happening - Collect basic info on the new development.
- Recognise that this will cause your community to change; Do we resent the growth? Is it just one more thing? Do we think that people who move into the community should integrate into our church as it is or should we adapt what we do? Consider starting a fresh expression of church in or around the new development.
- Root all your plans and activities in prayer: e.g. prayer walks, small groups, prayer meetings.
- Discover your own vision; What is your vision for the church in these new communities?
- Make contact with the new residents, give people information about the church and community; a welcome pack, take a gift - a candle or symbol representing your church.
- Listen to peoples experiences and needs; listen rst and speak second.
- Offer places and spaces for relationships to be created; go to them or invite them to you?
- Help the local Church to prepare to respond to the needs of the new community; who are they and what are their needs?
- Build a culture of invitation in your church to a service, to a social event, to a cup of coffee.
A list of action ideas;
- Prayer Walk
- Conduct a Community Survey
- Blessing of New Homes
- Visit with Gift or Prayer card for new residents Produce Information leaet and or website
- Work with the developers to produce a map of the emerging new roads (use adverts from local businesses, shops, fast food outlets etc could pay for printing).
- Hold a community event; fetes, parties etc.
- Plan some childrens activity
- Advertise an Open Afternoon if your church is near
- Discuss plans and issues with other groups and churches
- Conduct an environmental project
Mission to Larger New Estates
This usually involves longer term planning, involvement of the deanery, Episcopal Area or Diocese as a whole.
Planning about Planning
- Monitoring Developments - plans may take years to result in bricks and mortar. Keep up to date.
- Engaging with the Planners; increasingly the local planning authority. Talk to developers as early and often as possible. Understand and engage with Section 106 provision for community space.
Planning for Mission
- Understanding the Context; who is the development for?
- What is included in the development? Use this to develop mission plans.
- Strategies for Different Contexts; can you plant from your existing congregation?
- Will it need a team to go out and base itself in the new development etc?
- Is the approach to form a bridge back to existing congregations, a fresh expression of church that goes out and stays out in the new development or a blending of the two?
- Plan mission using Schools especially Church Schools is a proven approach.
- Learn from others; the stories of other pioneers, fresh expressions website examples, Church Army insights, research on the web etc.
- Use or help establish community space; meet in a home, use outdoor space, rent a house or shop.
- Work with Ecumenical Partners; people often join a church through relationships so work together with others and concentrate on building friendships with individuals amongst this.
- Who will you appoint to pioneer this activity? A team, a pioneer leader, a paid person etc. Consider that projects are more successful when a leader or post holder lives in the new area.
- Let your strategy evolve. Respond to needs, adjust your plans. Make your MAP exible.
- Build Sustainability; whatever you do should be affordable, repeatable, capable of maturing etc
- What legal structures are needed? Do you need help from the wider deanery, your Archdeacon or Mission Team?
- Assess your effectiveness; dene success and the means of measuring it. Be realistic; if something is not working what do you need to change? How do you sustain success?
Links and Resources
- CTE Portal: A really useful portal from Churches Together in England: tips for local churches, examples, pioneer ministry, resource papers, big picture etc. google search Church in Smaller New Communities proves a booklet of top ten tips for your local church. Here
- Fresh Expressions: New Housing Hub. Here
- FX Quick Look Guides: 3 minute guides with all the essentials for starting and sustaining fresh expressions of church. Here
- Church Army: Google search Church Army Gathering 2015 outreach to new housing areas for a powerpoint presentation with useful models of planting church amongst new housing. Here
- Resourcing Mission Bulletin: Strategy especially for larger developments in greater detail. Here