Jesus-centred, Kingdom-seeking

Our vision: 
A rejuvenating community of Jesus-centred, Kingdom-seeking disciples

Our vision in this diocese is to be a Church with Jesus Christ at the heart of everything we do, a Church in which we seek God’s Kingdom, and where all are enabled to experience a life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ in order to become disciples.

We have now crystallised that thinking into a phrase that we hope sums up what we aspire to be: a rejuvenating community [one that rejuvenates itself and seeks to rejuvenate others] of Jesus-centred [learners and followers of Jesus, with our actions shaped by him], Kingdom-seeking [including our devotion to God, our passion for social justice, our care for Creation and fellowship with each other] disciples. [we are committed to our faith, and want to keep on becoming more like Jesus] 

That vision is supplemented by two further priorities:

  • We deliberately prioritise our work with children, young people and young adults, to enable a new generation to grow in faith and find their voice. They are the Church of today. Among the ways in which we will do this is Growing Faith;
  • We value and treasure our older people, and ensure they are being care for holistically, by the provision of Anna Chaplaincy to support them in every parish, benefice and cluster across the diocese.

You can read more about these priorities below:

Our strategy: 
Rejuvenate, Revive, Revitalise and Renew

Why should a diocese have a strategy:

It is a valid question: why should a diocese have a strategy, when the Church of England's dispersed model of leadership gives authority to leaders at different levels of the Church? There is already a strategy that the national Church has put together, which you can read about here. Each of our parishes and deaneries may also have a plan for the way forward. What can 'the diocese' as a whole contribute to that?

The answer is that all of the visions and strategies at various levels inform each other and are informed by each other. A good diocesan strategy takes seriously the planning at parish and deanery level, as well as the national strategy. The diocesan strategy also becomes a framework, onto which parishes and deaneries can attach those things they feel passionate about. In an ideal world, they all influence each other. This diagram aims to illustrate what that might look like:

How vision and strategy created at different levels of the Church of England inform and are informed by each other
How vision and strategy created at different levels of the Church of England inform and are informed by each other

What is the strategy?

As a diocesan community, we are invited to take part in the strategy that we pray will guide us towards the vision described above, as we are led by the Holy Spirit. This strategy aims to tackle some of the challenges we know that we face as a diocese: declining attendances, older congregations, expensive buildings, over-stretched staff, and a gap between the costs of our ministry and our income. 

So our strategic framework aims to place children and young people at the heart of our planning, and also seeks to revive, revitalise and renew our network of parishes, chaplaincies and church schools. That would involve:

  • Rejuvenate: we want to create thriving churches where families can find a place of belonging and purpose. This may involve reducing the age profile of congregations and an emphasis on our work with children and young people. This aspiration is a watermark that runs through the following parts of our strategy:
  • Revive: we want to revive the spiritual leadership in our diocese, so lay and clergy leaders are vibrant disciples, whose faith is deep and attractive to others. This may involve some inspirational ministers coming alongside, coaching and equipping our leaders. It also could involve lay and clergy leaders forming clusters who can eat, laugh, learn, lament, pray and offer support together, to deepen their faith and develop more effective ministry;
  • Revitalise: we want to develop a culture where churches create pathways by which people might become disciples in their local congregations. It may involve encouraging church members to engage with the world, evangelise in words and deeds, establish disciples centred in Jesus, and equip those new disciples for mission. It may also involve specific initiatives, including:
    • Choir Church: using worship to intentionally create new disciples. You can read more about that here;
    • School Chaplains: to care for the mental and spiritual wellbeing of children and young people;
    • investment in areas of potential;
    • investment in areas of disadvantage.
  • Renew: in places where there is little effective gospel presence, we will seek to plant new congregations that are resourced to thrive. So we might plant brand new worshipping communities using investment from the national Church, and pilot new worshipping communities in schools, in partnership with the Church of England’s Flourish initiative, among other things. You can read more about Flourish here.
How our strategy will work: the ‘Revive’ element will be the catalyst for the ‘Revitalise’ and ‘Renew’ elements to work. And the ‘Rejuvenate’ element will be present throughout
How our strategy will work: the ‘Revive’ element will be the catalyst for the ‘Revitalise’ and ‘Renew’ elements to work. And the ‘Rejuvenate’ element will be present throughout

Specific initiatives

Building on the Mission, Ministry and Finance Plan 2022-25, which was originally presented in November 2022, our deaneries and our Bishops Staff Team have identified specific ideas which will be taken forward and may receive funding from the national Church of England. That means these ideas are neither top-down, or bottom-up, but a genuine collaboration between parish, deanery and diocese. And that dialogue will continue, as we fine-tune these ideas over the next few months.

Vanda Leary, our diocese’s strategic projects manager, will use this list of new initiatives to create a bid to be considered by the Church of England’s Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment (SMMI) Board in Autumn 2024. The timetable is as follows:

  • June 2024: Diocesan Synod will be asked to approve the overall vision and strategy;
  • mid-August 2024: Our funding bid would be submitted for external review;
  • mid-September 2024: Our funding bid would be submitted to the SMMI Board for approval;
  • 31 October 2024: We’ll receive a decision about our funding bid.