Mission Action Planning is a tried and tested way of setting vision for the parish, exploring our strengths and the challenges that face us, and putting together a realistic plan for the way forward that God is calling us to.
There is no one ‘correct’ way of producing a Mission Action Plan (MAP), but there are a number of important considerations for a MAP to be of use to a parish, rather than just a collection of grand ideas. This page offers basic guidelines on Mission Action Planning.
Today the majority of churches in the Diocese have Mission Action Plans, with a clear expectation that every parish will move in this direction. Mission Action Plans are used by churches to focus on the priorities that they have set for themselves.
What is a Mission Action Plan?
The aim is for this to be an evolving document, expressing your church’s individual context and needs. As a working tool it should also grow and change as your work for the Kingdom in your particular place develops.
Mission Action Plans vary widely from parish to parish depending on whether it is the first or fourth Mission Action Plan for a church, the size of the church, its location and church tradition. One crucial factor in preparing a Mission Action Plan is that it should be an activity which has the widest possible involvement across your congregation.
Where do we start?
- Parish Profile: describe as many aspects of your church as possible such as: styles of worship; a profile of the people who come; church school; church resources; activities within the church.
- History Audit: an exploration of the themes that have shaped the church and community, including points of growth and sticking points.
- Community Audit: compile a profile of your neighbourhood. Include information about local organisations and amenities. Use Census data to profile the population (see Parish Spotlights for more details). Plot the demography of your Parish on a map.
- Envisioning Exercise: brainstorm with as many people as possible to come up with new ideas and ventures. Be bold – don’t worry about practicalities at this stage.
- SWOT Analysis: take the ideas from the envisioning exercise and consider the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for each one. This will help you to think realistically about what might be possible. Remember to include financial and buildings considerations in the process. You can find some guidance in the related resources below.
- Resources: consider what people and skills will be needed to accomplish your objectives. Will local partners need to be involved? Who in the church community might take this forward? What else might be needed?
- Prioritise: divide your ideas into three categories – ‘Quick Wins’: things that can be introduced and make an impact quickly. ‘Medium range’: things that will require preparation. ‘Long range’: things which will need an investment of significant time and resources.
- SMART Checklist: make sure all your objectives are; Specific and Stretching, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Realistic as well as Time bound and Timely.
- Draft: prepare a MAP which sets out your parish priorities and how you intend to achieve them. Be sure this is a collaborative activity so the whole congregation has ‘ownership’ of the plan.
- Launch: celebrate your vision with your community; both churchgoers and those groups and people who have links with your church.
Once prepared and underway, it is vital that the implementation of the Mission Action Plan is monitored both for what goes right and what goes wrong.
Review the Plan regularly. Make sure that subject areas within it are placed on PCC agendas for discussion. Give regular feedback to church members and arrange an occasion when the whole congregation can review the plan once a year and agree any modifications.
AND FINALLY remember that this is not a ‘tablets of stone’ exercise, nor is it a box-ticking exercise. A Mission Action Plan is a practical document, constantly in use and developing organically with the inevitable movements in the life of your Parish.
If you need help at any stage in the process (and particularly at the early stages), please contact:
The Revd Rob Dillingham - Parish Development Officer & Deputy Director for Apostolic Life
Telephone: 01273 425 019
Mobile: 07341 564304