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A “deep” approach to mission helps churches connect with local communities, report finds

Posted on: June 20, 2018 11:54 AM
St Paul’s Church, Wokingham, in the Diocese of Oxford adopted a “Cake Bombing” initiative as part of its response to the Partnership for Missional Church programme .
Photo Credit: CMS

A Partnership for Missional Church programme developed by the Church Mission Society for local churches, helps to empower lay people, a study has found. The finding came into a report commissioned into the three-year PMC programme which CMS introduced in the UK in 2011. The two key findings in the study are that churches taking part in the PMC programme engaged publicly with their local communities; and that lay people felt empowered to step into positions of leadership within the local church and beyond. The results were found across church traditions and in both urban and rural contexts.

The study was conducted by Liz Clutterbuck and Andy Schofield of the Transformational Index group, who spoke to 82 participating churches from the dioceses of Southwell and Nottingham, Leicester, Oxford and Durham. The research included a survey of church members.

“Seventy-two per cent of respondents said that PMC had made a positive impact on their ability to establish partnerships outside the church, and seven out of 10 said PMC had also made a positive impact on their individual Christian lives, deepening both their personal faith and their corporate spiritual experience,” CMS said in a statement. “The majority of respondents said that their involvement in PMC had led to them being more confident in their Christian witness and evangelism.

“The research showed that churches obtained a clearer sense of vision and purpose, in and for their neighbourhood: 36 per cent of respondents said they were now confident about sharing their vision while 41 per cent reported that their plans for the local community had grown significantly.”

According to CMS, 76 per cent of survey respondents said they had taken on new roles since their church started working with PMC. “Some positions were linked directly to the PMC process and church administration, while others got more involved in the local community, including becoming a school governor or working with a homeless project,” CMS said.

The leader for PMC in the UK, Dr Nigel Rooms, commented: “The future of the church is the laity. The PMC process invests heavily into lay people and so it’s great to see how so many have been empowered and mobilised through it.”

One of the key aims of the KMC process is a “long term cultural change in congregational life” which sees Churches doing mission “with the community rather than “for” the community. “Congregations are encouraged to work with local community partners to dream dreams and turn them into a reality,” CMS said.

“PMC is best understood as a deep change process that is as much cultural as theological,” the report concludes. “It contributes to a broadening and deepening of relationships within churches and communities and brings faith into the public sphere in ways that churches would otherwise have struggled to achieve.

“There is welcome evidence that local church, rather than being a subset for a thin slice of the community, is becoming integral in holding bonds across boundaries.”

  • Click here to find out more about the Partnership for Missional Church programme.