Fit for Mission: an introduction -
The goal of Fit for Mission is to enable all parishes, church plants, fresh expressions, schools and chaplaincies to fulfil God’s mission and to make new disciples where they are. We are at the start of a six-year programme which will be led by your local leaders – lay and ordained. There will be continual communication and programme updates, through your church, as well as available on the Diocese of Liverpool website. For more information please contact your minister or area dean.
Why do we need Fit for Mission? We are asking God for a bigger church to make a bigger difference, so more people know Jesus and there is more justice in the world.
Fit for Mission focuses on 4 mission priorities which are foundational to this vision:
i. Introducing people to Jesus
ii. Deepening discipleship
iii. Developing Christian leaders
iv. Working for justice
The Fit for Mission programme will provide focus and support to work together to face the significant issues that hold back mission and growth. We aim to address: Declining church attendance - The last 30 years have seen a 55% decline in attendance. We need to face that reality and act. A lack of diversity
With few children and young people in our churches we struggle to be attractive to those who are the future.
Our congregations are mostly worshippers of narrow ages, cultures, and colours. An increasing admin burden
More and more is expected of fewer and fewer people.
We can’t ask everyone to work harder or better; our way forward has to be working together so more energy is available for mission. Unsuitable and unsustainable buildings
Despite the decline in attendance the number of buildings has only declined by 6% in the last 30 years.
Caring for buildings (that were built for another age) is a strain on finances and on time-poor volunteers, who don’t have specialist building management skills.
“Fit for Mission is about courageously addressing the issues that prevent us in mission, and truly releasing people to their God given calling for the sake of the gospel and of Christ’s Church.” Bishop Beverley January 2022
What will Fit for Mission do?
Create a growing and sustainable church Fit for Mission will support each deanery in the Diocese of Liverpool to create their own future. There are six elements to this, and for each of them the programme will make available help and specialist resource.
1. A focus on developing our discipleship culture through training and support, including delivering ‘Cultivate’, a successful Local Missional Leadership programme. Resulting in hundreds of newly planted worship communities and justice initiatives.
2. Creating core support-services in deaneries to support and resource your mission
3. Creating missional leadership teams of lay and ordained people over larger areas with responsibility for specific mission and worship communities.
4. Developing agreed mutual support and accountability structures for all leaders
5. Work towards each deanery having one or two Larger Parishes.
Fewer parishes, but more worshipping communities and more justice initiatives. Less bureaucracy, more mission. With a local strategic approach, more diversity of worship will be possible.
6. Making sure buildings are fit for purpose, with buildings expertise available to assist in making good decisions on use, investment, or closure. How will we get there? Together Fit for Mission is a programme of change from the inside out. Decisions and actions will be led by existing lay and clergy leaders within each deanery.
Over a two-year period, each deanery will be able to draw on extra resources and skills to help create the specific growth culture and supporting structures the deanery needs.
This is likely to include:
• A Change Facilitator to help the deanery plan and progress all the areas of change.
• A Team Coach to help the new teams develop their new ways of working. • ‘Cultivate’; a carefully constructed and tested step-change programme to envision lay leaders, helping them to uncover their call to mission. It goes on to support those called to plant and revitalise worshipping communities and justice initiatives.
• Help to set up core-services for the Larger Parish including finance, admin, safeguarding and HR. • Buildings expertise to implement a buildings plan, as well as support to make funding applications for buildings investment. Fit for Mission will engage the whole diocese between now and 2027, with a two-year intensive change period for each deanery.
Fit for Mission 2
Merging multiple smaller parishes into one larger parish, which will then have more than one licensed place of worship, will always be an exercise in trust. Trust that the new PCC will honour agreements made by the previous PCCs and trust that the new leadership will work for
the benefit of everyone. Note: LSP = Larger Single Parish or Larger Parish
Why FFM2? Why now?
1. Why is this the right journey to be on?
There is a long-standing and deep-rooted decline of the Church of England in general and the Diocese of Liverpool in particular. On just about every measure the Church of England was in decline throughout the 20th century and certainly in the 21st century. It is getting to a critical point in our diocese – if we cannot reverse this deep-rooted trend we will not be able to look forward with confidence; indeed, we are likely to find ourselves in a relentless and debilitating round of cuts to clergy numbers and other core spending. We would be presiding over a move to a much smaller church for the foreseeable future (and ‘foreseeable future’ is taken to mean generations rather than a few years).
Fit for Mission takes and builds on the good and the best of what we have seen in the diocese and also addresses the significant obstacles to growth that we have all identified. Some of this is about doing things differently so people can be released from the burden of the institution into being the people of God doing the work of God. Some of it is about
tackling some of the hard questions and challenges that we have tended to shy away from. All of it is about the body of Christ working together for the common good.
2. What is the theology behind FFM2?
It is rich and deep-rooted in a biblical understanding of the primacy of making disciples of all nations (Matt 28) and that this requires the people of God to step more fully into the harvest field (Luke 10), through to a deep understanding of the mutuality of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12) and the generosity of the people of God (2 Cor 8). There has also been a
strong sense that like the people of Israel we have not been this way before (Josh 3). And much else besides.
3. How does FFM2 aim to reverse decline?
In a number of inter-connected ways. This includes:
Creating a clear focus on the 4 agreed priorities of introducing people to Jesus, deepening discipleship, developing Christian leaders and working for justice.
Investing significantly in training and support around planting new worshipping communities and justice initiatives.
Investing significantly in making things easier at the parish level through more administrative, buildings management and other resources.
Simplifying governance and administration to release more people with more time for outward facing activities.
Creating a more mutually accountable structure so that everyone is able both to offer and require high levels of support.
Developing more teams of people who are passionate about growing the church and reaching new people with the good news of Jesus in word and action.
About Strategic Transformation Funding
4. What is the money that the Church Commissioners would be giving for? The money from this fund is to help dioceses make a step change in the way they operate particularly focussing on growth and young people. The money is to get us to a new place where patterns of mission and ministry are sustainable and we can plan for a more confident future.
5. Why don’t the Church Commissioners just give funding to existing parishes to support their ministry?
They do already. Liverpool has benefitted for many years, to the tune of £1.6m per year from the Lowest Income Communities fund. This amounts to funding for 20% of our stipend budget year on year.
6. How much money would be given and is it enough?
£7.3m. This kind of programme has not been done before. We have prepared a very detailed case and programme plan. There are likely to be some unforeseen elements that we will have to work out as we proceed, but we are confident that this can be done. And we plan to maintain a close relationship with the national church so we are able to
generate further investment where that is available and appropriate. Cohort 1 will be two pilot deaneries – they will help to shape the way forward and lessons will no doubt be
learned for Cohorts 2 and 3 (six deaneries each).
St Cuthberts voted to be in Cohort 1 but we await the result from the rest of the deanery and then Deanery synod to decide the next step
7. What if funding isn’t given?
Having got through stage 1 and having had follow-up meetings with the Church Commissioners, we are confident that we will get through stage 2. If however that isn’t the case then we would be likely to continue with FFM2 but on a much longer timescale. The challenges we face are not going away and the work we have done to look at the best way forward will remain. We are not simply chasing national church money; we are asking for support for what we need to do anyway. But without national church support our ability to implement change would, however, be significantly reduced.
Being part of FFM2
8. Does a parish have to be part of FFM2?
No. Each parish is free to make its own decision. However, if a parish isn’t part of FFM2 then it won’t be able to access any of the resources which will be available through FFM2.
9. How will a decision be made as to whether a deanery goes ahead?
If roughly 80% of the parishes in a deanery agree to be part of FFM2 then that will mean that those parishes will become FFM2 parishes. Any parish within a deanery taking part in FFM2, who decides not to be included, will continue as they are now.
10. What are the positives about being part of FFM2?
FFM2 will kick-start the planting and revitalisation of local worshipping
communities/congregations, through envisioning, training and supporting clergy and lay leaders. As a diocese we still have a significant capacity of great people, clergy and lay. While we have that capacity FFM2 will provide the opportunity to engage in an even more focussed way with our communities so that more of the 99% who do not currently engage in following Jesus in a worshipping community
may come to know Jesus’ love and Him as Lord. The LSP can make decisions on priorities and use of resources to address those
priorities e.g. if the local leaders agreed that much more of their capacity should be directed towards young people, they could make that happen.
Some admin can be dealt with more efficiently across a larger geography e.g. funerals to ensure that funeral directors receive as quick a ‘yes’ answer as possible. As a larger unit it is easier to use the latest software for managing finance and communication and adhering properly to GDPR. Financial management will be clearer and more transparent, enabling sensible and good decisions to be made to
give greater opportunity for the gospel. Statutory compliance and the burden of regulation is generally a problem within our buildings (fire, electrical testing, boiler maintenance etc). This can be managed
more consistently as a whole. There are savings to be made if some items are purchased centrally, such as insurance and energy. Wigan saved £55,000 per year on insurance by combining everything into one policy, and that will increase as work is done to refine insured
values. We need to face the buildings issue head on. This can only be done by considering the needs and opportunities within a larger area.
Having fewer people involved in governance (PCCs) we can have more people involved in engaging with our communities.
11. What can a parish that isn’t part of FFM2 expect?
To carry on as they are now. There won’t be any additional resource available to them; all the additional FFM2 resource will be targeted on FFM2 parishes. But current levels of diocesan support will be available, as will the support of the bishops and archdeacons. And Parish Share will still need to be negotiated with the deanery. That said, most parishes in our diocese are in decline and the more isolated the parish the more reliant it is on its own resources to survive. We think there are better ways than that and are encouraging all parishes to think seriously about the positive benefits of being part of FFM2.
12. What will it be like after the Church Commissioners change support ends?
FFM2 support is mostly to facilitate change (coaching investments, systems development and such like). Other aspects are intended to start something that can then be sustained locally (e.g. leadership nurturing and training, administrative support). Creating sustainability is a crucial outcome of the project. Once changes have been made and practices embedded then the support will no longer be required. One outcome is for increased income and this will ensure sustainability of ongoing costs. The diocesan budget may also need to reflect and absorb some of what is required on a sustained basis.
13. Will the result of FFM2 be to lose more of the old certainties – doctrine, our vicar,
Yes and no. Some of these ‘old certainties’ have already gone in many parts of the diocese; very few parishes are self-sustaining on the one church, one vicar, one parish model. Most have either moved to shared leadership and/or significant cross subsidy to sustain ministry costs that they could not bear on their own. Equally, we know that
worshipping communities function best when there is clear and consistent leadership, good pastoral support and good buildings to meet in. So where there are good buildings,housing and viable congregations they would no doubt remain; where there are potentially
good buildings, housing and currently or potentially viable congregations and worshipping communities we hope they would be invested in; where there are unviable buildings and/or unviable congregations and worshipping communities there can’t be any blank cheque that says they can be sustained for ever. In terms of doctrine there is an absolute commitment within Fit for Mission to maintain, and indeed enhance, the breath and integrity of the Church of England. So no tradition
within the Church of England should fear for its future under Fit for Mission – as long as it can show itself to be viable.
14. What will it feel like for the person in the pew?
It will be mixed, and no doubt for some it will be uncomfortable. But we hope that for many it will feel really exciting as people start to explore new vocations, new possibilities and new people start to join. We hope there’s a greater sense of energy with people able to get stuck into what God is calling them to. But every parish will continue to offer the full
range of worship services of the Church of England and many people will be able to attend church in the way that they always have done with the friends they continue to have.
15. What will happen to pastoral care in our parish?
If it’s really good then FFM2 will ensure that it remains that way; if its not we expect it will improve. One of the key commitments of FFM2 is to try to make sure that there is no pastoral deficit. Congregations and worshipping communities will have identified leaders; there will be people who have a particular brief to ensure that pastoral provision across the parish is as good as it possibly can be. We are also going to develop the role of deacon in the diocese, looking to identify the people God may be calling into this role so they can be selected, trained and ordained as distinctive Deacons offering pastoral care. This will
increase pastoral capacity. And the final point – which is obvious but no less important for being obvious – is that pastoral care is all our responsibility as we offer it in formal and informal ways. So what will happen to pastoral care largely depends on our collective
commitment to offering the best pastoral care we possibly can.
16. Does FFM2 mean that congregations will be joined together?
Only if that is a good solution that local leaders agree with. FFM2 is not primarily about joining congregations together to have bigger services that are therefore easier to run. That would reduce diversity and would be unlikely to encourage new people to join. The vision is to have many more worshipping communities that are places of belonging,
communities of faith. Many of these will be around 30-50 people with a lay leader. If a building was to close after the local review, it would not necessarily mean that a congregation or worshipping community would stop meeting or have to join with another congregation or worshipping community in another place. It could well find other places to
meet and look towards the future with good consistent lay leadership. Such a group would not have the burdens of parish administration, and could focus more on community engagement and mission.
17. Will one church be a lead church?
Possibly. It depends on the nature of the parish and the definition of church. Some LSPs may opt for what is sometimes called a minster model where one or two worshipping communities consciously seek to resource and develop others. But this will not be feasible everywhere either because such worshipping communities don’t exist or it is not
appropriate. Whatever the situation a ‘lead’ church or worshipping community can never be a controlling or a dominant one. That is not how FFM2 works. FFM2 is about the whole of the body of Christ working together.
18. Is FFM2 Diocese or Deanery led? How much flexibility is there at local level to
Absolutely locally led. There are certain parameters – for example it has to be about the 4 priorities of introducing people to Jesus, deepening discipleship, developing Christian leaders and working for justice, and there has to be a commitment to working in larger parishes. But how all this is done, what choices are made and what this means on the
ground is absolutely a local decision.
19. How can we keep the variety of different churchmanship in the deanery/diocese?
Can you guarantee under Fit for Mission that our tradition and integrity will be preserved? This is a simple question which has both a simple and a complex answer. The simple answer is that there is an absolute commitment within Fit for Mission to maintain, and indeed enhance, the breadth and integrity of the Church of England. So no tradition within
the Church of England should fear for its future under Fit for Mission.
The more complex answer is that in reality this commitment will depend on two things: people and money. To take them in turn.
Most churches in the Church of England have been in steady – and in some cases increasingly rapid decline – over many years. And most churches are significantly reliant on older people as the younger generations are largely absent. These are not criticisms; they are merely factual observations. The reversal of this decline and reaching out to new generations are key motivations behind Fit for Mission. But Fit for Mission of itself cannot guarantee this. It will be dependent on people.
So if a church does not bring in new people then it will gradually die out. That is clear and unambiguous. The aim under Fit for Mission is for all churches in all traditions to flourish. But saying it or writing it down does not achieve that. So part of the answer lies in how
each congregation or worshipping community of whatever tradition seeks to grow.
The majority of churches in the Diocese of Liverpool do not cover their direct ministry costs. In other words they are reliant on financial support from other parishes and the national church to pay for the costs of ‘our vicar’. The tradition in the Diocese of Liverpool is that this support, through Lowest Income Communities Funding from the national
church and Parish Share within the diocese, is generously given and generously received. But there are limits as to how much can be made available and for how long. Again, this comment is not specific to churches of particular traditions; it is a statement of fact across
So the Fit for Mission challenge is for all congregations, all worshipping communities to become healthier and more viable. If they continue to do so then their future is increasingly secure. If they do not then there cannot be a permanent guarantee that they will be provided with stipendiary clergy leadership – with their ‘own vicar’. This has
effectively nothing to do with Fit for Mission nor is it tradition specific. The Fit for Mission commitment is to seek to ensure that every tradition in the diocese flourishes. But it will be up to people on the ground to work prayerfully, diligently and under God to realise this vision.
And finally, no Resolution can ultimately override this fundamental question around health and viability. But equally nor does staying outside the Fit for Mission structures give any greater security. The strengths and vulnerabilities outlined above remain within or beyond the larger parish. Indeed, there is a strong argument that staying outside the mutual
support of the Fit for Mission structures creates a greater vulnerability for any current parish, including those seeking to preserve a particular tradition. There won’t be any access to the support services or wider resources provided under Fit for Mission. It would really be down to the individual church, its own devices and its own resources. That could
be a tough, vulnerable and exposed place to be.
20. How will poorer parishes be treated? Will they have resources taken away or more given to them?
The Diocese of Liverpool has a long-standing commitment to what Bishop David Sheppard termed a ‘bias to the poor’. This is a matter of principle and necessity. We are committed to ensuring that we embody the biblical mandate towards the last, lost and least. It is also
a matter of necessity – our demographics simply and rightly push us that way. No parish in the Diocese of Liverpool is penalised for being in a low income area. We have a whole system of mutual support and cross subsidy and that must remain. And the purpose of FFM2 is to offer more resources to enable the local church to grow, including in low income areas. That said, if ministry in low income parishes isn’t proving to be fruitful then that will need to be re-thought (as it will in any other parish or context). So there is no penalty for being in a low income area; equally there is no unconditional guarantee that whatever happens a particular church can just carry on. Our bias to the poor can be seen in our action - our Parish Share, and hence clergy deployment calculations, are weighted towards lower income areas. This is supported by an intentional use of Low Income Community funding (£1.6m per year from the national church), which varies in financial impact from 36% stipendiary support in the lowest income deanery to less than 1% support in the highest income deanery. There is also a related internal transfer of resources from parishes in higher income areas to lower income areas (a further 31% of parish support into the lowest income deanery).There will, no doubt, be a need to modify aspects and assumptions of FFM2 to reflect different demographics. For example, the varying supply and availability of leaders and people with particular skills can often reflect the socio-economic make-up of the area, positively and negatively. We will work these out together as we progress.
21. What is the broad timeline for FFM2?
It is initially a 6 year programme starting in April 2022 (subject to funding). The initial investment in change and additional resources is around 2 years for each deanery. There will be 2 pilot deaneries in 2022, 6 starting in late 2023 and the remainder starting in late
22. How do LYCiG, Cultivate, Directions and Joshua Centre fit together?
They all do slightly different things but do fit nicely together. LYCiG (Leading Your Church into Growth) helps existing worshipping communities grow by developing a real focus on outreach, welcome and nurture. Directions helps all people discover who and what God is
calling them to be and understanding God’s full call on their lives outside the walls of the church and inside. Cultivate is about helping people who may be called to plant new congregations and worshipping communities identify their gift and put it into practice. And Joshua Centre offers support to churches looking to plant something new. So depending
where people are in the faith journey and how they want to go about reaching new people each of the above offers something complementary but slightly different.
23. What about evangelism in FFM2?
How we introduce people to Jesus is a major feature of FFM2. We won’t be able to plant new worshipping communities and justice initiatives without an absolute commitment to witness and evangelism; it is a thread through everything. There will be portfolio holders in each larger parish with a responsibility for nurturing and encouraging evangelism across
the parish; Directions will also be a key resource. But it is all part of the culture change anticipated in FFM2.
24. Why is Cultivate the thing to invest in particularly?
Because it works, and it works particularly in our context. It will no doubt continue to change and evolve as we learn more but it is and will remain absolutely aligned with what we are trying to do. It is not an off-the-shelf product that we are trying to adapt for our purposes but rather it is something we have created to enable God’s people in this diocese
plant and sustain new worshipping communities and justice initiatives.
25. How will lay leadership be made easy and accessible as we try to launch new worshipping communities?
Leadership isn’t generally that easy and we wouldn’t want to imply that it is. But each lay leader will be identified, trained and supported as they step into their leadership context. Cultivate delivers this coaching and dedicated on-going support for local missional leaders.
We will do everything we can to ensure that all leaders are resourced and supported. It is also why we are so determined that leadership is understood as something done in teams rather than as individuals. This has to be about the body of Christ resourcing and supporting each other in prayer, encouragement, challenge and service.
26. Is there anything to support nurture and faith development with those not ready for Cultivate?
Yes, definitely. The diocesan Rule of Life (pray, read, learn, tell, serve, give) will provide all worshipping communities with a framework to enable everyone to deepen and more fully express their Christian faith. And we need to remember that this has been the core work of the church for generations. We are not trying to imply that this hasn’t been
happening; it absolutely has. The challenge is how we amplify the best practice that has been in the diocese for years. We envisage a specific portfolio / team who will promote nurture within the larger parish.
27. How will shared funeral ministry, and other occasional offices, still encourage local connection with families?
That sense of personal and local connection will remain key. The challenge we have is that we now lose funerals and weddings at source. The ‘system’ isn’t geared to non-church people having funerals or weddings in and through church. It no longer occurs to most
people in our communities that we are an option. So we have to do two things: (i) make it as easy as possible for people to find and engage with us through a better and more available administration and bookings service; (ii) continue to provide the very best service we can so that people recognise that the church is the very best place for these
profound life events to take place. As Christians we know how and where we want to be married and have our funeral; most people don’t, or certainly don’t think of church as a first option. We have to work hard and differently to change that.
28. We don’t see community in the four priorities identified by the diocese – why not? What does ‘Justice’ mean in FFM2?
There are certain things that we take as givens in our understanding of church and our priorities. So, for example, prayer is not mentioned as one of our four priorities; but we know and assume that everyone knows that FFM2 absolutely has to be rooted in prayer.
Similarly, the whole of the Christian life is about community – the community of the church and the communities in which we find ourselves. So we take community as a given. We understand justice in the Micah context of acting justly, loving mercy and walking
humbly with God. So our service, our commitment to justice is not manipulative or conditional; it is who we are as Christians and how we see the kingdom of God.
29. What would happen if we were part of a new Parish where people, particularly clergy, hold different views on some aspects of theology e.g. sexuality? Would policy be forced on churches and clergy?
There is a clear commitment within Fit for Mission to maintain, and indeed enhance, the breath and integrity of the Church of England. There will continue to be a range of positions and interpretations of scripture and how it applies to our current context and different theological and ecclesiological points of view. The larger parish will not be monochrome where everyone has to do, say and think exactly the same thing. It will be rich and diverse with people able to hold different views with generosity and integrity.
30. Is making a larger parish legal?
Yes. There is no legal limit to how big or small a parish can or should be.
31. Has this worked elsewhere?
There are individual instances where it has worked, but it hasn’t been tried on the scale the FFM2 envisages. We are breaking new ground in this respect.
32. Could we make small changes instead e.g. join together with a smaller number of parishes
The learning in the Church of England is that forming ‘multi-parish benefices’ just multiplies the problems and exhausts everyone, especially priests who generally end up running around all the parishes trying to keep all the services going. We want to release people from having to do bits of everything so they are free to focus on what they are
good at. The smaller parish doesn’t have enough resource to have the support and administration that it needs; we get bogged down in endless repetitive meetings about the same thing in each neighbouring parish. The aim is to have a larger parish to enable us to simplify decision-making, create better support services and free people up from cranking the many handles of the institution of the Church of England and instead focus on taking the good news of Jesus to a lost and broken world.
33. Couldn’t we get benefits from centralising admin and services without becoming one parish?
It’s highly unlikely. There would need to be complicated employment and cross-charging arrangements. There would be no guarantee of continuity of service or provision. Policies and procedures would need to be negotiated and agreed multiple times. And we would observe that such collaboration simply hasn’t happened in the diocese – largely, we
believe, because it is too hard and complicated to make it work if we all stay separate.
34. What impact will larger leadership teams have on churches and people?
We hope it will be liberating; that is certainly the plan. We don’t want to create teams to hold people back or to spend time in endless meetings. Rather we want to free the people of God to work together in service and mission. Some of the teams will be structured and fairly permanent; others will be informal and shorter term. But we don’t want anyone to
feel that they are having to carry things on their own.
35. What training will be offered for teams?
It will be varied according to the need. Some of it will be cultural – how to lead in such a way as to release the whole people of God. Some of it will be technical – how to work the new book-keeping system. Some of it will be personal – how do I understand my gifts and contribution in the context of the wider team. Some of the training will be one to one;
some will be in groups; some will be coaching, some will be more instructive. But there will be lots of it.
36. How will the way clergy and lay people work together change?
We hope that FFM2 enables all people more fully to live out God’s call on their lives. We hope for clergy that they are freed up from the massive expectations currently that they are everything to everyone and that they can get back closer to the Ordinal and understand their vocational call more fully in that context amid the current challenges. We hope that lay people are able more fully to express their gifts and step into spaces
previously unoccupied or were seen as one of the million tasks that clergy were expected to do. We know that the PCC will be a mix of lay and ordained; we know that the portfolio holders will be a mix of lay and ordained; we know that the Rector will be ordained. We will need to work carefully so that all people can understand who they are in God, where
accountability and authority lies within the new structures and how we are all humble before God and each other in our service and mutual support.
37. What help will the poorest churches get to grow?
Quite simply the people of God catching and living out a vision for growth. Growth in the kingdom of God is not about wealth or about particular skills; it is about bold, brave, humble and generous service by and for God’s people.
38. Will there be a strategy for turning round declining churches through significant investment, like St Barnabas Penny Lane? Could areas of deprivation be prioritised in this?
There is already a plan for a resource-type church in the north of Liverpool. We will continue to work both with deaneries and the national church to see how and where else we can invest over time.
39. Who will decide who is on the PCC, the Navigation team, the Portfolio teams etc?
The PCC will be elected by the Annual Meeting, as it is in the current parish set-up (it’s just that it is likely to be a larger APM in a FFM2 parish). The navigation and other teams will be set up under the auspices of the PCC and in close collaboration with the Rector.
During the transition process the members of the Navigation team and Portfolio teams will be transparently discerned/proposed by local leadership and approved by deanery synod.
See also the sections of the Scoping document that relate to the PCC (including terms of reference), the Shadow PCC and the Navigation and Portfolio teams.
40. What happens if we don’t have anyone with the skills to lead a particular portfolio team? Or people for the team?
The parish leadership would need to see if they could identify and train someone to step into this portfolio over time. Otherwise it would be a question of deciding how significant the work is and whether someone should be brought in from outside the parish to hold the responsibility. Ultimately, however, it will be a matter for the parish to resource the work
that needs doing.
41. Can we continue to discern what God is saying to us as a church and start new
initiatives or close things down?
Absolutely. This will be essential. But it will need to be done in a transparent, agreed and accountable way.
42. Alongside the single PCC, will there be other forms of governance?
There will be a regular Parochial Church Meeting in addition to the usual Annual Meeting. Any member of the parish electoral roll will be entitled to attend, speak and vote at these parish meetings: deanery synod members, assistant wardens and licensed ministers will
be expected to attend. There will not be other formal governance structures such as
43. Which church officers will be required by the new Parish?
Same officers as in a current parish (wardens, treasurer, secretary etc). The larger parish remains a Church of England parish with the same legal requirements. In each worshipping community ‘assistants‘ to help these officers will continue as now to complete the weekly vestry sheets, banking, finance and Gift Aid recording information etc.
44. How much autonomy will worshipping communities have? What decisions will they still make?
Plenty. There will be an expectation that each worshipping community works clearly to support the four priorities, but how that is done will be a matter of choice around ecclesiology, local context etc. It absolutely won’t be a case of one size being expected to fit all. We really do want choice and variety across the parish.
45. What will the membership of the new PCC be and will we have representation?
The PCC will consist of Rector, 2 Churchwardens, 6 lay members elected on a three-year rolling term at the Annual Meeting, 2 clergy members elected by the clergy licensed in the parish and up to two other clergy or lay members co-opted by the PCC. So there will be representation, but not of every single worshipping community. That is why the new
regular parish meeting will be so important.
46. Would an outreach project (eg TANGO) be brought within the new PCC? Yes, everything done in the parish comes under the PCC.
47. What happens if I want to be part of FFM2 as a clergy person, but my parish doesn’t? FFM2 is about the parish not about any individual. So if the parish chooses not to engage then the clergy person will also sit outside FFM2.
48. Do our clergy have to officiate at all services within all buildings?
No they don’t. Clergy only need to officiate at sacramental services (Holy Communion and Baptism), all other services can be led by authorised lay ministers (e.g. Readers). Under current Church of England Canon, only one service of Holy Communion needs to be held in one church within the benefice on each Sunday and principal Feast Days.
49. Should clergy be worried about job security?
We think that FFM2 creates more security rather than less, albeit people working in a different and more collegial context, because we think it’s the best chance we have to grow. Basically we have the clergy we can pay for via Parish Share. FFM2 doesn’t change that.
50. I felt called to be incumbent of a normal-sized parish. Why can’t I continue with the same role?
It is possible to continue while the parish is sustainable and the PCC decision is to stay outside a larger new parish. However we see that there is more security in the larger parish (which will actually become the ‘normal-sized parish’), but while a current parish can pay its Parish Share and meet its other bills then it would be free to carry on as is. It
just won’t get any access to the FFM2 resources.
51. How will training posts change because of FFM2?
We will need to train clergy in and for this new context. Training posts will need to reflect that, with curates being deployed to the larger parish teams so that they are formed in that context.
52. How will clergy be deployed? Will our congregation have a vicar?
All congregations have a vicar now; that won’t change. The sense of the question, we assume, is whether the vicar (in FFM2 language called Associate Rector) is present week by week in the same congregation or worshipping community. That will depend. For some congregations, where the Associate Rector is the main hands-on leader, the answer will be yes; in others where the Associate Rector has oversight of that particular congregation someone else will be specified as the week-by-week leader. But each congregation will have dedicated leadership. Many will be lay, some will ordained – but all under the authority of the PCC and Rector, channelled through the various Associate Rectors.
53. How will clergy roles change? How will tasks and responsibilities be allocated?
Currently stipendiary clergy are usually in one small parish or in a small team of parishes with some shared work but usually not any shared responsibility across parishes. In the LSP there will be one Rector and a larger number of associate clergy who will fully work together as a team to ensure all aspects of ministry and mission in all areas of the parish
are well served. An individual clergyperson will still have some pastoral oversight of specific worshipping communities but will not have responsibility for every legal and ministerial task to be organised. They are likely to have a specific portfolio ministry responsibility in the whole
new parish e.g. overseeing the children’s ministry. This will not mean that they individually will do all of the children’s ministry in every church meeting place in the LSP, but they will be accountable for forming a team/teams, developing vision, supporting training,
development and evaluation of children’s ministry in existing and new worshipping communities and contexts. Clergy will have significant pastoral, relational ministry and will be released from duplicated administrative and legal requirements so that they can focus on growing
specific areas of ministry in a larger area with teams of other ordained and lay people that best uses their gifts and skills in a focussed way. Self-supporting ministers will become part of the whole LSP but will have new agreements about the focus of their particular ministry which will also involve being part of a team but may also have some specific
responsibilities in one or more specific worshipping communities. All of these ordained roles will be accountable to each other and to the Rector who will hold together the oversight of all of the ministry in the team to ensure that all areas of mission and ministry are well led and supported.
54. How will new clergy be appointed and how will theological stance be guaranteed for a church in the future?
The core features will remain the same – section 11 and 12 meetings, role description, process overseen by the archdeacon on behalf of the bishop, involvement of the patron, mixed appointment panel. As reflected regularly through these questions the theological breadth and richness of the Church of England is not up for negotiation; it is to be upheld. The only caveat to that is that this also requires each congregation or worshipping community to be viable. There is no permanent guarantee for any tradition or theological stance if that congregation simply fades away into complete unviability.
55. If our parish doesn’t join a LSP, would we get a new vicar when our current vicar leaves?
As now, that will be a matter for the deanery to determine. And that will depend on an assessment of the level of Parish Share that can be collected and the number of posts that can pay for. So there are no guarantees inside the LSP; there are no guarantees outside
56. Who will preach at our church and who will plan the teaching programme? How do we know that our theological tradition will be upheld in our church?
That will primarily be a matter for the individual congregation or worshipping community and its leadership. The idea of the larger parish is to encourage diversity and flourishing ofevery tradition. There will be oversight of every congregation or worshipping community,
57. Are we giving away control to a leader (Rector) over whose appointment we had had no direct input?
Control is the wrong word; nobody controls within the Church of England. The Rector will have a degree of authority but the whole culture will be about servant leadership, diversity and flourishing. The role of the Parish Meeting is also key – that will set clear tone and direction and will be a forum for ensuring that voices are heard. The Church of England is
not a dictatorship and neither can nor will be under FFM2.
58. What happened to the patronage of our church? Would our current patrons have a voice to safeguard our theology?
The new parish will have patrons who are likely to reflect the patronage interests of existing parishes: ultimately the Church Commissioners will decide on the patronage of the new parish. We will work with existing patrons to come up with fair and workable patronage arrangements for large parishes.
Deanery and Area Dean
59. What will happen to Deanery Synod, DMPC and the Area Dean if the whole of the deanery, or part of it becomes a larger parish?
This is one of the areas that we will need to work on as FFM2 shapes up. We know that we need Deanery structures as part of the governance of the Church of England. If some parishes within a deanery stay outside the larger parish then the deanery will continue to function more closely to how it does now, although we will need to work out how the larger parish is most appropriately represented. If all the parishes join then it may be that some of the functions of deanery and parish can be held together – say the Parish Meeting can also act as the Deanery Synod. But these are things we will need to work out on the ground.
60. How can you know that this will be the best ‘fit’ solution for our deanery?
We can’t, or at least not until we try it. But the main point is that we need to find out what will work best for the mission of God in the Diocese of Liverpool. If within that some structures need to change or flex – say we need to amend deanery boundaries – then we need to explore that openly and generously. But we want to start with the mission of God
and work back to structures, rather than start rigidly with what we have and try to fit the mission of God into those structures.
61. How will FFM2 connect with our deanery mission plan / our parish plans?
We hope it will amplify them and give them greater drive and energy, especially given the extra resources available under FFM2.
62. What will be the role of the Archdeacon?
The archdeacons will continue to be available to all ministers and church officers in their role of offering pastoral support, and advice on faculties, finances, rules and discipline etc. The archdeacon’s role in oversight of mission and ministry in the diocese will be mainly expressed in their relationship with the new rector and leadership team and the new PCC.
63. Can the new PCC simply choose to close one of its buildings?
No. The closure of any place of worship is a consultative process between the church members, their PCC, the Deanery and authorised representatives of the Diocesan Bishop.
64. Can you guarantee my church building will not close?
No, but nobody can guarantee that now. Staying outside of FFM2 does not mean that your church building is protected either.
65. What happens to a congregation if a building closes?
The larger parish would need to do everything it reasonably could to support the members of the congregation to find where best they can worship. That would be vital and serious pastoral work.
66. What rationale will be used for deciding which/if church buildings will close?
This will need to be worked through carefully by the larger parish. There’s no simple tickbox formula for this. It will be a carefully constructed process which is likely to involve some key factors such as location of the building; current condition of the building; current use(s) of the building; current health of the congregation(s) meeting in the building;
potential enhanced uses of the building; whether there are other assets that could be used to create resource to invest in the building; proximity of other suitable/more suitable buildings, and – increasingly in the coming years – carbon net zero assessments and impacts. A local ‘Right Buildings’ team will work with a professional buildings strategy
facilitator to do the work to make a proposal for the buildings needed in the new larger
67. How can we be confident of future proofing our buildings?
s mentioned above there are no guarantees. But having well-maintained, heavily used and financially viable buildings is generally the most effective way. Clearly the commitment to carbon net zero by 2030 will also become a more significant factor.
68. Will rural churches lose their buildings and therefore the heart of the
Not necessarily, no. We can’t afford to keep any building going at any price, but equally we know how significant church buildings are in some communities, including rural ones. So there will need to be open and mature conversations about how a parish gets the right
balance between being a church for everyone and at the same time growing our way into a new and more sustainable future. Partnership uses may also be a possibility for rural churches.
69. Who will manage buildings day to day going forwards, managing bookings etc?
The aim is to create simplified processes and additional resources to enable buildings to be more efficiently managed and better maintained. There are specific posts within the FFM2 budget to get this process started. Most of the day to day management will remain with
those who use the buildings. However statutory compliance / maintenance and some purchasing of services is likely to be done more effectively across all the larger parish
70. How will growth be encouraged in old and new congregations?
In a variety of ways including LYCiG (Leading Your Church into Growth), Cultivate, training in evangelism and nurture, regular peaching and teaching on the importance of growth, investment in new posts and areas of activity which are designed to reach new people and
the missing generations. There is a strong expectation that the 4 priorities of introducing people to Jesus, deepening discipleship, developing Christian leaders and working for justice applies to all congregations, old and new.
71. How should existing parishes plan for the coming months knowing that FFM2
may be coming along? Should we stop any plans for major expenditure?
Not necessarily. But we hope that parishes will quickly get into the habit of having conversations about their plans and how these might connect with or impact on each other. Clergy chapters and deanery synods are places of connection and conversation where these things can be talked about. We also hope that a parish will have conversations with their archdeacon and area dean before embarking on anything major.
72. If funeral admin is centralised would a Church member be able to have the funeral taken by their own minister?
Yes, absolutely. The only issue is whether the minister is available, but that is no different to now.
73. How will parishes be kept informed who don’t have a vicar?
During the FFM2 consultation/early transition, current PCCs where the incumbent post is in vacancy will be kept informed by the Area Dean and Lay Chair and by being invited to deanery meetings.
After the LSP is formed, every church will have its own leadership which will connect into the wider leadership of the parish. Every church will have a role and voice in the parish meeting. Plus there will be plenty of people to ask. But there is a wider cultural question for each of us. Getting communication right is really difficult. There is generally so much going on and not everything is relevant or interesting to everyone. Indeed, nobody can know absolutely everything going on. But people in any organisation – including churches – often complain about ‘communications’, that ‘nobody told me’. The FFM2 challenge will be to switch the culture from nobody told me to being clear about where we can each go to get information. We will all need to take a bit more
responsibility for trying to find out and then sharing stories and information rather than waiting to be told.
74. How will the change be well communicated?
This will be vital. The FFM2 story will best be told locally by local people. It is not something that ‘the diocese’ can do on its own. So there will be investment in communications capacity to support the local leadership to make sure the FFM2 story on the ground is well and honestly told.
75. How can we promote FFM2 to the whole of our deanery?
Through regular and on-going communication in print, on line and most importantly in person. We will need to keep telling the stories over and over and over again. FFM2 teams will be able to help with this.
76. I am an employee of one of the original parishes; what happens to me?
As the Charity Trustees of the new parish, the new PCC will automatically become your new employer.
77. Will my job stay the same? Who will I be answerable to? Where will I be required to work?
It absolutely depends on what your role is now. There will need to be careful negotiation with each employee who transfers to the new structure. These details will be at the heart of that conversation.
78. If our church raises money for a new employee how will we be sure that they will
be deployed at our church?
The job description will determine where and how the employee works. And the basis on which the money is raised determines how it can be spent.
79. What is the key learning from Transforming Wigan?
The Transforming Wigan project has provided significant amounts of learning and evidence that has supported the FFM2 proposal, including: clergy and other leaders work better in teams; wherever possible leadership needs to be local rather than imported; structures
with lots of layers don’t work – they need to be simplified; people need to be able to identify with their own place of worship/worshipping community and be confident that their giving also goes there; clergy can’t do everything but feel the burden that they should; difficult financial problems are not solved simply by changing structures – they are
difficult for a reason and so require tough and honest conversations and decisions; buildings are a blessing and a huge challenge that must be addressed head on and early on; culture change and moving into sustainable growth is really hard and needs to be resourced; the worshipping communities that work well together have found the transition easier; there are plenty of lay people ready to be excited by the possibilities God has for them; there are many, many, many opportunities to connect with people who aren’t connected with church; people are still hungry for the good news of Jesus