Serving Christ - overview
Introduction

One of the clear messages that we’ve heard from laity throughout Warwickshire and Coventry is that they would value more training, across a wide range of discipleship and practical areas.  This has come through learning from our 20s-30s scheme in deprived areas, and also the extensive Rural Consultations in 2015.  The need has been recognised and endorsed by Diocesan Synod and the Bishop’s Council.

Discipleship has also been the subject of a national Church of England report entitled Setting God’s People Free.

The Diocese has therefore recognised the strategic significance of lay training, and has been working on how best to address this need.  It has resulted in the successful submission of a bid to the Church Commissioners for Strategic Development Funding.

The programme is called Serving Christ, and the full bid proposal can be downloaded by clicking here.

What will the programme involve?

The programme will have four main parts:

  • Six new Learning Mentors will specialise in different areas of lay training.  This will include personal and spiritual development as well as the nuts and bolts of practical ministry.  These Learning Mentors will be mentoring individuals in one-to-one support, setting up learning communities, running courses and finding or creating high-quality training resources.  
  • A digital learning platform to enable anyone in the diocese to find courses and resources which will help them in their discipleship.  This on-line tool will recommend the most relevant courses, resources and information tailored to an individual's, group's or church's needs and preferences.  It will also enable people throughout the diocese to network, help and support one another.
  • Encouraging the growth of 'Resource Churches' throughout Warwickshire and Coventry.  Initially the Learning Mentors will work with churches with a good capacity for growth (gained from the NCD surveys).  We will also be interested in assisting churches in the 70-100 size to grow beyond this size.  However, as part of our desire to support all parishes in the diocese, we aim to establish a number of 'Resource Churches' of differing traditions and expertise.  These will work with the Learning Mentors to provide resources and practical assistance for the benefit of all churches in the diocese.
  • Supporting 'Ebbsfleet parishes' in other dioceses.  This invitation from the Bishop of Ebbsfleet follows a successful Ebbsfleet Lay Congress in 2016 where delegates responded favourably to a presentation on the 8EQs.
What are the anticipated outcomes?

As a result of the Serving Christ programme, by 2022 we anticipate having:

  • A minimum of 120 churches and 5,000 disciples becoming more equipped, empowered and confident in serving Christ in a growing church context and in their wider communities.
  • Growth of 1,500 additional people, including 200 in the 20s-30s age range.
  • 50 Ebbsfleet parishes engaging with the Natural Church Development (NCD) principles.
  • Increased sustainability by a 10% increase in financial resource to churches by an increased number of disciples who invest in their local church’s vision and strategy for growth.  
  • A minimum of five Resource Church Hubs in both rural and urban areas extending and cascading the work in accessible locations to churches and disciples.    
  • Replicable approaches, models and resources for discipleship development, across a wide range of traditions and contexts, shared with the wider Church of England.
  • Replicable models of integrating strategy across the three main diocesan delivery vehicles of churches, cathedral and schools – an approach of potential interest to the wider Church.
How will the programme be funded?

Over a period of five years, the total cost of the programme is estimated to be £2.4 million.

We have been awarded a grant of £1.8 million from the Church Commissioners, and the remaining £0.6 million will be funded from other diocesan funds.  None of this funding will be raised through the parish share, and it will have no impact on parish share calculations.

The programme would be evaluated after four years, and decisions about continuation after 2022 will be made on the basis of evidence of growth and the strategic needs of the diocese at that point.

Prayer points, questions and suggestions

Please pray for the successful implementation of the Serving Christ programme.

If you know of anyone who might be very good at any of the roles, please let them know about them.  We would be very happy to discuss informally what they involve with potential applicants.  Please contact

The successful grant application was the result of a team of people working together.  However, we would welcome further questions and suggestions on how we can help and support laity across the diocese.  Please send any questions or suggestions to the Serving Christ Project Manager, Graeme Pringle, on 07507 196495 or Graeme.Pringle@CovCofE.org.