Doing Parish Church Well
Our 475 parish churches provide amazing opportunities for mission and our visited by many people beyond the regular Sunday morning congregation.
- Who are we?-+
Newsletters, Parish Magazines, web sites, blogs, and social media all provide opportunities to publicise worship services, events and can reflect stories of faith of the local congregation.
- www.churchcommstraining.org | Webpage
- www.john-truscott.co.uk/Resources/Communication | Webpage
- www.church123.com | Webpage
Our church buildings provide an obvious physical witness to God’s love if they are well cared for, offer opportunities for prayer and reflection by being open during the day with suitable materials for pilgrims, visitor or newcomer. A well presented up to date external noticeboard can make best use of some prime sites in our parishes.
- Invitation & Welcome-+
The season of invitation initiative including ‘Back to Church Sunday’ provides a means of cultivating an invitational culture in your church and also helps to shape your services with visitors in mind. Making changes for one special service may beg the question why don’t we do that all the time? For local information contact Rich Henderson.
- seasonofinvitation.co.uk | Webpage
A ministry of welcome is communicated by everyone and one way of improving this is to use or adapt the course ‘everybody welcome’. www.chpublishing.co.uk/features/everybody-welcome
This can help to
- make your church more visible,
- make the premises more inviting,
- consider the accessibility of the services,
- beware of different age ranges
- provide tips for welcome and encouraging belonging
- offers training for a welcome team and sidesperson
Read ‘mystery worshipper’ reports to help you see your church through the eyes of a visitor!
- shipoffools.com/mystery | Webpage
- Exploring the Christian Faith-+
Table Talk www.table-talk.org and Puzzling Questions www.puzzlingquestions.org.uk provide easy opportunities to explore faith through life issues in social settings. Introductory courses to the Christian Faith abound including START, Christianity Explored, Pilgrim, Alpha and Essence. A locally produced review and summary of the range of these materials is available.
Our Living Faith in Suffolk series provides a range of short course materials to help those more established in the church to explore faith.
- Occasional Offices-+
In what ways can those attending Baptism, Weddings and Funeral services be encouraged to make their local church a place of belonging at times of life transitions?
For the occasional visitor of special services Soul Food provides quality cards to give away that offer bite sized thoughts sent straight to mobile phones e mail addresses relevant to the service they have attended. Sample materials are available via the Diocesan Office.
- www.soulfood.me | Webpage
A more comprehensive approach as how to offer further opportunities at baptisms weddings and funerals can be found at churchsupporthub.org | Webpage
- Seasonal Festivals & Events-+
How can we make the most of seasonal festivals and special events?
Christmas, Easter and Harvest are times when many consider attending Church Services and there are a range of resources to compliment these important occasions.
- www.canonjjohn.com/store/christmas | Webpage
Periodically in the life of the nation and through sports and other major events the local church can be a resource to mark these important occasions. The Queens 90th Birthday provides such an opportunity.
- Sharing Faith-+
How can we encourage members of our congregations to share their story of faith in their everyday lives?
A number of people can struggle to articulate their faith and we offer a two session practical course ‘Sharing your Faith’ to help people summarise their own story, understand ‘God’s story’ and take practical simple steps to start to share naturally. For those who want to apply this to their work places and wider life in the community there is a range of materials to support everyday witness.
- www.licc.org.uk/about-licc/vision/ | Webpage
- No Vicar?-+
How can we grow when we have not got a Vicar?
Vacancies in parish churches are part of the natural life cycle of the life of the local church. These need not be times to retrench but can provide an opportunity to grow! When the vacancy isannounced, the Church Wardens will automatically be sent a copy of the CPAS handbook 'Growing through a vacancy’, which offers 15 practical steps for a healthy church vacancy. They will also be given the opportunity to order copies of the guide for their PCCs. Many useful resources for use before, during and after the vacancy are also available on the CPAS website.
- Mission for us?-+
How can our particular setting provide opportunities for mission?
One size does not fit all and in Suffolk there is a wide range of contexts and demographic makes ups in which we remain committed to offer opportunities for appropriate mission.
Many are in Rural settings and The Arthur Rank Centre produces many ideas and resources suitable for the countryside
- www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk | Webpage
Similarly some of our housing estates provide particular opportunities to share our faith within a whole life approach to mission
Suffolk is the fifth fastest growing county and new housing developments both large and small are planned in many parishes. Early planning can help to make the most of these new communities.