Shaping for Mission - Phases 1-3

Strengthening our life of discipleship, vocation and evangelism

Shaping for Mission is the process across Lichfield Diocese to strengthen our life of discipleship, vocation and evangelism while facing a significant reduction in financial income. We are working together as people of hope to make our mission sustainable in helping fulfil our diocesan vision. Shaping for Mission commenced in autumn 2020 when deaneries formed Shaping for Mission teams and began the work of reviewing their deanery, before discerning a vision for the deanery going forwards. 

No time like the present

The first phase of Shaping for took place between Autumn 2020 and Spring 2021, with teams carrying out reviews of their deanery. The aim of this phase was to help us understand where we are now, what we are building on, where our energy and resources go, what is fruitful, and where the gaps are. You can see the template we used for this phase at: reviewing your deanery.

The second phase ran from Easter 2021 through to the autumn, during which deanery teams moved into vision-setting. During this phase the teams worked with the wider deanery to ask questions about who and what God calls us to be and what our priorities for mission are. You can see the template for the vision setting phase here.

The third phase began in the summer 2021 as deanery teams met with their Area Bishop and Archdeacon to share the vision for their deanery and together to consider the next steps in turning that vision into a reality. This third phase is continuing in 2022.  Bishops’ Senior Staff and then, where appropriate, AMPCs (Area Mission and Pastoral Committees) will work with deaneries to translate the vision into action and to align resources accordingly. Alongside this, every deanery was offered a link officer from the diocesan Mission Team to support their next steps in mission.

In 2023/4, a small sub-group of the Bishop's senior staff team brought many of the themes together in to a fresh diocesan strategy that was ratified by Bishop's Council and the Diocesan Synod in spring 2024 and subsequently shared with clergy at the Clergy Conference and PCCs.

You can see an outline of the timeline here.

And associate archdeacon of Stoke, Revd Preb Terry Bloor, gave some ideas and guidance in implementing deanery plans in this video which was first shared with rural deans and deanery lay chairs in February 2022:

What about our central teams?

Alongside the work in deaneries, a parallel process has taken place across the diocese’s central sector teams, with three small Shaping for Mission teams reviewing our Central Administrative Support Teams (CAST), DVE teams and Education. These teams, which include external representatives from across the diocese, have focussed on making sure that our work priorities are aligned with our shared mission to effectively serve schools, parishes, chaplaincies and fresh expressions, and that our central resources are financially sustainable. As part of the work of these teams and of reviewing the work of the central sector, the Diocese has offered a voluntary redundancy scheme. A reduction in officers and administrators in the centre, the same as reduced resources in some parishes, and elsewhere, demands an overhaul of work so rather than trying to do more with less, we are doing different work according to the priorities and mission of each team. 

How is the process going?

The 28 deaneries have had different experiences of Shaping for Mission. For some, it aligned with other review work they were already doing or had recently done. For some deaneries it came at a time when they were struggling with the number of clergy vacancies in the deaneries, financial challenges or other issues which both connected with the heart and purpose of SfM but also made it difficult to commit to the process. Probably for all deaneries, it came at a time when people were tired, anxious and busy working out how to emerge from lockdowns and deal with the ongoing changes, challenges and new missional opportunities of the covid-era.

Reflecting on the first two phases, a lay member of the Cheadle Deanery team, Beth Flashman said: “It has been a privilege to be part of the Cheadle Deanery Shaping for Mission Team. It has been an interesting process that has taken time and a variety of skills from an eclectic range of team members. There were times of frustration, but overall, I feel that we have entered the vision setting stage of the process with a clear idea of where we would like to see the Deanery in the future. We hope to look at Church without walls, at spreading the good news of Christ across the whole kingdom locally, and ministering to our people wherever they are, whenever they need us.”

The diocesan facilitators, working with each deanery likewise had very different experiences. There has been a lot of discussion about deaneries and what sort of units they are. The Revd Philip Swan reflected: “Before we began I had wondered whether the Deanery unit could be revitalised sufficiently to take SfM forwards. I was encouraged therefore to observe within the deaneries mutual learning, growing trust and a renewed commitment to be part of God’s wider mission.” Several other facilitators noted that the process of SfM itself had begun to establish some of the collaboration, information sharing and shared mission across deaneries that the process is seeking to build. 

Details, questions, answers...

More information on Shaping for Mission is available in these FAQs and in this presentation given to Bishop's Council.

Stay informed

Sign up for The Bulletin which continues to include valuable info including news, resources and network-building for everyone with an interest in the diocese and Shaping for Mission. Tick boxes for The Bulletin and 'click here to update your profile/preferences' if prompted. Or email the Comms team. The journey is also being shared in some episodes of The Ministry Shift.

Generous God

You have provided for your people in every generation.
  In our faithlessness you remained steadfast.
  In our obsession with scarcity you provided abundance.
  In our anxiety you offered us freedom from fear.
  In our despair you gave us hope. 

We receive your gifts, believe your promises and trust you for the future.
May we cease trying to fix the church and join with you in loving your world.
May we hear your call to fullness of life and share it with others. 
May we be shaped by the Good News of Jesus, the light of the world
And may we seek your kingdom as People of Hope. Amen.  


Process support

The Shaping for Mission process is being overseen by the Bishop's Staff team and delivered by a team of senior officers from various departments of the diocesan staff.

Page last updated: Monday 29th April 2024 2:59 PM
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