… is the title of a recent report on rural church in the Diocese of Leicester. The result of a six-month consultation, with people from across a Diocese that is perhaps not so often thought of as rural. One of the key insights in this transforming thought process has been for the Diocese as a whole:
Leicester Diocese will shift in self-understanding from an urban diocese with a rural edge to a rural diocese with urban heartlands, working in partnership, and led by all God’s people.
The paper, which is available online in full or in summary, offers a series of WAGOLLS (what a good one looks like) that encapsulate the aspirations of rural churches in the Diocese and, indeed, of a diocese that has lots of rural churches. Recommendations are flagged as being for rural churches or relating to diocesan processes accordingly.
Here’s a summary of some of the highlights:
WAGOLL for rural contexts:
For churches: real engagement between church and community; sharing of good practice;
For the Diocese: strategy for approaches to engaging with new housing developments; rural proof the work of the Diocesan Social Responsibility Panel
WAGOLL for Schools, children and young people
For churches: “review worship practices and physical spaces to reflect the participatory
and engaging ways worship is conducted in Church schools”; consider options for churches and schools to share space; there’s also an interesting discussion on small, rural schools joining a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT).
WAGOLL for mission, evangelism and growth:
For churches: focus on growing depth of discipleship; focus on growing multiple, lay-led worshipping communities;
For the Diocese: developing rural-friendly resources to encourage evangelism.
WAGOLL for discipleship and vocation:
For churches: more stories about what discipleship and vocation mean in rural contexts;
For the Diocese: create a pilot for rural vocational development; rural-proof work on implementation of Setting God’s People Free.
WAGOLL for leadership and ministry:
For churches: shift towards collaborative approaches as “default mode of leadership”;
For the Diocese: explore different models, including minster model, Framland Deanery project.
WAGOLL for governance and buildings:
For churches: re-imagine the role of churchwarden and other officers; explore combining PCCs; promote collaboration with other denominations;
For the Diocese: in the light of the Taylor Review, form a Diocesan Buildings Team to visit churches and advise.
WAGOLLS for finance and giving:
For churches:develop understanding of how generous giving emerges from discipleship;
For the Diocese: promote ways for churches to be supported in managing finance mores effectively; explore pilots for third party service for churches in e.g. book keeping.