One vicar said, “I have been here for twenty years, in which time the church has grown hugely and this in a diocese that has shrunk numerically more than almost any other. Yet until our new Diocesan Bishop called on me the other week nobody from the diocese had ever shown the slightest interest in how or why we had grown or whether there might be any lessons or inspiration for others.”
As at the church level, so at the individual level. As leaders we're so used to fire-fighting and problem solving that we forget that a key leadership role is identifying and celebrating success, faithfulness, and fruitfulness. It was great to be in on a meeting this afternoon, talking about some excellent work with younger people in groups of 7-8, and agreeing that it was more important to do that in-depth work well than to grow the numbers but sacrifice the quality.
In the spirit of that first paragraph, I had a look at our diocesan membership stats in Bath and Wells. A worrying fact - of the 38 churches larger than ours in the Diocese, only 1 grew in any meaningful way last year, 3 were stable, and the rest lost members, some quite dramatically (Did I hear you say 'clergy vacancy?' you'd be right). Trying to find a church that's our size that hasn't plateaued or fallen away is quite a challenge. I was hoping to find some churches I could make contact with and say 'tell us how you're doing it'. But it looks like the questions may have to be a bit different!