Leading your Church into Growth in Portsmouth Diocese.

Since 2015 a central plank our diocesan strategy in Portsmouth has been church growth, evangelism and discipleship. We wanted every church community to ask the question ‘How do we welcome new people into our community and enable them to become disciples of Jesus Christ?’ We wanted to challenge and support our church communities to live and proclaim the Gospel, so that those new to faith, and those returning to church, would see an attractive presentation of the Christian faith from the moment they responded to an encounter with church.

This vision was about inspiring both the ordained and lay leadership of each church to have a vision for church growth and discipleship. We wanted to change the culture and language around church growth, so that it became normal to talk about these things at PCC, deanery and diocesan level. And we feel that the journey we have been on in the last four years has made that vision as reality in many of our church communities and deaneries.

LYCIG has been the focus of our implementation of that evangelistic vision. Over 85% of our benefices have now taken part in residential LYCIG conferences, and we held two diocesan LYCIG courses in 2016 and 2017. Each of these conferences was attended by ordained and lay leaders so that mission plans could be put in place that were owned by the parishes as well the clergy. Every parish that attended was given a LYCIG Local pack to enable them to follow up their mission planning on the ground, and diocesan mission support was offered to parishes to help them in this process. Each parish has also been given copies of Start! and Moving On, so that every church has the tools to deliver appropriate Christian nurture to those new to the church community. The diocese has also provided termly LYCIG follow up on a variety of themes to allow parishes to access further mission training.

For many parishes the LYCIG process has been transformational: churches have begun new mission initiatives to build up their presence, proclamation and persuasion; language around Christian nurture has become normative; missional lay leadership has been raised up; a number of LYCIG attendees have since had a call to ordination. As mission planning has taken place across so many of our parishes, there has been a real sense of renewal and building up the Kingdom across the diocese. As one LYCIG attendee put it ‘We now have a sense of hope and direction about the future’.

Every diocese faces similar mission challenges to those that exist in Portsmouth. I would encourage other dioceses to consider taking the plunge in the way that we did: it will breath new life into the work of the church.

Anthony Rustell

Head of Mission, Discipleship and Ministry

Portsmouth Diocese


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