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St Davids Clergy Conference Church is a Christ-centred community What is church and how do you measure it?

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Presentation on theme: "St Davids Clergy Conference Church is a Christ-centred community What is church and how do you measure it?"— Presentation transcript:

1 St Davids Clergy Conference Church is a Christ-centred community What is church and how do you measure it?

2 The St Davids Growth Strategy Re-structure the diocese and re-imagine the ministry Revitalise the churches and rejuvenate the people

3 The conference emphasis Revitalise the churches and rejuvenate the people (whatever structures & ministries we happen to have)

4 But if you decide to have a Church- Growth Strategy You need to know what church is and how to measure it!! We normally measure the size of our churches by attendance at services But is church an ongoing community or a periodic attendance event? Edhah and Qahal At first, the church was both – All the believers were together and had everything in common Acts 2v44 But soon church came to mean the whole circle of believers, the whole ongoing community eg Acts 9v31 – The church throughout Judea, Galilee & Samaria enjoyed a time of peace" - this is Edhah not Qahal!

5 Church as attendance event v church as community When everyone came every week attendance & membership were similar But now, on average, people come 3 weeks in 5 Many new styles and services are monthly People receiving home or care-home communion belong to the church In the C of E we have started counting the size of the church community plus its joiners & leavers as well as average attendance – these are set to take over from attendance as our size and growth measure The size of the church community is nearly double usual Sunday attendance In the trial dioceses there have been far more joiners than leavers

6 Keeping a register of attending members Measuring church by membership is also good for pastoral care Every church should keep an up to date list of its attending members in order to care for them pastorally Take care to include all the occasionals Devise a method whereby the church community always notices & responds when someone is drifting away A couple of deaneries are trialling this new method of counting ourselves at the moment Do your churches have a full & up to date pastoral list?

7 How do you measure the size of a church? How do you measure the size of a lake? Circumference Depth Power

8 How do you measure the size of a church? Numbers of people – depth of faith & spirituality – ministry vitality All the believers were together….they devoted themselves to …..prayer…..they gave to anyone as had need……and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2v42-47) DEPTH: Community & Prayer VITALITY: Giving to the needy NUMBERS: The Lord added daily to their number Healthy churches grow in all three dimensions at once

9 The Church of Englands threefold priority aim Set out by +Rowan and endorsed by +Justin: To take forward the spiritual and numerical growth of the Church of England including the growth of its capacity to serve the whole community of the country

10 The St Davids priorities Go and make disciples To grow as disciples – spiritual growth deepening our walk with God To make new disciples – numerical growth in the Body of Christ To live as disciples – vitality growth transforming local communities

11 The main focus for this conference Is on numerical growth – the circumference of the Churchs circle Though the book of hopeful stories contains examples of all three dimensions of growth And it is rare to find a numerically growing church that is becoming shallower or less effective in its local community Often it is spiritual and vitality growth that lead to numerical growth

12 Who grows the church? Jesus: I will build my church and the powers of death will not overcome it Paul: I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow God makes churches grow, like he makes flowers grow But he wants us to plant and water the seeds so they can grow

13 What type of churches grow? Healthy churches grow Churches well planted, weeded, fed and watered grow Numbers respond to the quality of what we do and who we are If you want your churches to be bigger focus on making them better God will do the rest

14 We want to grow numerically – so what is the recent trend? Many thanks for 250 church questionnaires returned We are still using attendance measures – perhaps membership measures would show a better trend Overall you told me that average weekly attendance is the same today as it was three years ago

15 We want to grow numerically – so what is the recent trend? The number of adults was down about 1% The number of children was up about 6% Half the churches said adult attendance was down, a fifth said it was the same and a third said it was up Some of the attendance increases were quite large

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21 Pruning for growth? A Beeching Plan to close the tiny branch line churches would not help growth Though there may always be individual churches that have come to the end of their natural lives The trick is to prune for growth, not just to hack away! What resources or opportunities can you release through a closure to help grow the church elsewhere?

22 So, small churches are more likely to grow than big ones – what about other features? Tradition – no significant trend difference between catholic, central and evangelical traditions Location – no significant trend difference between rural and urban settings Age of congregation – churches with some adults aged under 45 are more likely to be growing. This is important because St Davids has far fewer adults aged under 45 than most dioceses

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24 What are the main forces causing your church to shrink? deaths, ageing congregations, illness86 apathy, secularism in parish22 poor or badly sited buildings12 members moving away10 Depopulation, small population, elderly population10 Vacancy, no vicar, lack of pastoral care10 Finances, Parish Share9 Can't attract younger people9 Competing Sunday activities, sports, busy lives8 Attitudes, fear of change4 Few people moving in to the area4

25 Three types of decline force: 1.Death (86) – the main driver of decline in the church on earth – though the faithful dead merely join the church triumphant, which is a rather better branch – no PCC meetings! 2.Society (49) – secularism, younger generations uninterested, competing Sunday attractions, demography 3.The Church (49) – buildings, more people moving away than in, vacancies, finances, attitudes We cant do a lot about 1, but we can adjust to 2 and sort out 3!

26 What are the main forces causing your church to grow? New family services or families ministry11 Good welcome9 Good atmosphere, better relationships9 Congregational attitudes and desire8 Better children's ministry8 Holy Spirit & Prayer8 Personal friendship & invitation6 More local community engagement5

27 What are the main forces causing your church to grow? Good worship5 New clergy4 Alpha and other nurture courses4 People moving into the area4 Schools links3 Attractive social events3 Weddings3 More lay ministry3

28 One type of growth force: The church!! All the factors you mentioned are about the response of the church to a challenging situation

29 Church is a Christ-centred community Most of the positive factors come under the heading of developing the Christ-centred community of the church Improvements to worship, welcome, nurture, atmosphere, attitudes, & attractiveness to families under the influence of prayer & the Holy Spirit When we improve the quality of who we are, our relationship to God and what we do then the numbers tend to go up

30 Is your glass half full or half empty? You mentioned 166 forces of decline but only 64 forces of growth Yet overall numbers remained about the same 40% of the growing churches only mentioned decline forces! So you look like half empty people to me!!! Assuming you got your attendance numbers right, the overall situation is better than you feel it is Reading through the book of stories and photos should make you even more optimistic!

31 What church-growth advantages do smaller churches have? It is easier to join & belong to a small community & harder to leave it unnoticed Loyalty & identification levels are higher in an informal community than an impersonal organisation - corner shop v supermarket Being an informal community can be less draining than running a complicated organisation Smaller losses in vacancies

32 What church-growth advantages do smaller churches have? Absorptive capacity often does not grow fast enough as churches get bigger. It is easier to replace the 2 people pa who leave a small church than the 50 who leave a large one Having to share a vicar encourages lay members to be active rather than let the vicar do it all Your church may be bigger than you think – average attendance of 20 often implies a church community of around 35 or 40

33 What church-growth advantages do smaller churches have? In smaller churches people are more forgiving if the music is not high class, or the building is badly lit These things still matter in small churches – you need a warm building and nice toilets but a warm and welcoming community makes up for most things

34 Five pieces of wisdom for growth 1.Be intentional – dont just wander aimlessly through the churchs year, have a plan!!!

35 Growth and mission planning Does your church have an intentional church development strategy? Growing Shrinking Yes 8 2 No 1 7

36 Does your church have a written Parish Development Strategy? 20 churches said yes Their attendance grew 6% Compared with a drop of 1% in other churches A process for developing a strategy – What is God saying to us about the future?

37 Are you a Magic Roundabout Church Or a Gospel Train Church?

38 Five pieces of wisdom for growth 1.Be intentional – dont just wander aimlessly through the churchs year, have a plan!!! 2.Be prayerful – it is God who grows the church, not us. Like good gardeners, what we do is provide the conditions in which God can cause the plant to grow.

39 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow (St Paul 1 Corinthians ch 3 v6)

40 The Diocesan Strategy Prayer – coming on bookmarks very soon! O God our Father, you lead us on ways both new and unknown: teach your church in our Diocese of St Davids to live the Good News given to us in Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour; make us to be light in your world and equip us to be partners in your mission so that others may find their way to you. Amen

41 And/or write your own church or benefice prayer, eg St Alphege Seasalter God our Father, you grow your church as we proclaim the kingdom of your Son. Increase in number your church at Seasalter as you deepen us as followers and learners of Christ, in the power of your Spirit, to the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

42 Five pieces of wisdom for growth 1.Be intentional – dont just wander aimlessly through the churchs year, have a plan!!! 2.Be prayerful – it is God who grows the church, not us. Like good gardeners, what we do is provide the conditions in which God can cause the plant to grow. 3.Be focussed on quality not quantity. If you want your church to get bigger then try and help it get better, deeper. God will do the rest – your church will grow naturally.

43 Reported recently in The Times Journalist: How important is your target of selling 10 million cars this year? Toyota Spokesman: Rather than going after numbers, we hope to make fine products. The numbers are just the result of our policy.

44 Five pieces of wisdom for growth 1.Be intentional – dont just wander aimlessly through the churchs year, have a plan!!! 2.Be prayerful – it is God who grows the church, not us. Like good gardeners, what we do is provide the conditions in which God can cause the plant to grow. 3.Be focussed on quality not quantity. If you want your church to get bigger then try and help it get better, deeper. God will do the rest – your church will grow naturally. 4.Offer friendship not just friendliness

45 Invitation, welcome and integration are the three keys Only 1 person in 10 who tries out a church succeeds in joining Joining a church is more than attending a service – it is about joining a community Why a friendly church is the worst sort! I dont want a friendly church, I want a church where I can make friends None of them spoke to me

46 Five pieces of wisdom for growth 1.Be intentional – dont just wander aimlessly through the churchs year, have a plan!!! 2.Be prayerful – it is God who grows the church, not us. Like good gardeners, what we do is provide the conditions in which God can cause the plant to grow. 3.Be focussed on quality not quantity. If you want your church to get bigger then try and help it get better, deeper. God will do the rest – your church will grow naturally. 4.Offer friendship not just friendliness. 5.Offer deep spiritual wells to satisfy the thirsty – you are far more than a local club!

47 Deep Wells Help people experience prayer – is the building kept unlocked? Church services are about encountering the living God as well as each other Be prepared to tells your Christian stories – for many people today truth is not about facts but about experience Go deeper yourself, meet in small groups, study the Bible, grow in prayer

48 What do you think? How does your church grow and shrink? How do people join and leave your churchs worshipping community?


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