Strategy for Buildings

Why church buildings matter

People and buildings are our biggest assets in the church, as God invites us to go in the strength we have and be part of His plan to bring His Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven, all redeemed under Christ.

Well-maintained and enhanced church buildings are a strong witness that the Christian faith is very much alive and making a positive difference in our communities- our buildings ‘speak’. They are our place for collective worship, a house of prayer and a resource for mission.

Our church buildings are where our worshipping communities come together; they are a sacred place where we participate in doing God’s work and where we are equipped and strengthened to live this out at home, at work and in our communities. They are also a visible Christian presence on our high streets and in our villages- this cannot be underestimated. Our buildings are a distinctive part of the skyline and character of the area, encapsulating personal and community stories through the generations; they are instantly recognisable, acting as a 24/7 noticeboard of a Christian presence in what could be described as ‘evangelism in stone’.

Research backs up the importance of visiting church buildings as one of the key reasons why people become Christian. In the ComRes research report, ‘Talking Jesus: Perceptions of Jesus, Christians and evangelism (adults)’, the second most important factor out of 18 factors was ‘attending a church service(s) other than a wedding or funeral’ (28%). This shows the importance of buildings for collective learning and worship. ‘Visiting/praying in open churches (i.e. not in a church service)’ scored 4%, which is only slightly less than attending an Christian study course such as Alpha (5%).

In a further research report, ‘Talking Jesus: Perceptions of Jesus, Christians and Evangelism (11-18 year olds)’, young people stated as the joint-4th reason for becoming a Christian as ‘Visiting a Church Building’ (13%). This equates to about one in every seven young person. It tied with ‘Going to a Church wedding, funeral, Christening, Baptism or Confirmation’ and ‘A Youth Group’. This means that for young people, visiting a church building has a greater influence on becoming a Christian than a 'faith activity in school e.g. assembly' (9%), 'church based youth service' (8%), or 'youth camp or summer club' (4%).

Church buildings, therefore, are valuable assets not only to facilitate people growing in their faith, but one important factor in helping people come to faith in the first place.

Church buildings could be seen as:

  • places of encounter, connection and learning; to grow personally and as a Christian community in our understanding of and closeness to God. This, in turn, helps our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, shaping a positive sense of identity, purpose and belonging
  • places of peace, of spiritual nourishment and reflection in the sacred ambience as a house of prayer
  • places of sanctuary, support, healing and positive action; a place to connect and equip people to deal with life’s challenges and help to create a more just world through prayer, support, encouragement, practical help and social action
  • places of respect for all people, facilitating conversations and initiatives and paying tribute to personal, community and national events of significance
  • places of rejoicing in God’s blessings and encourage and inspire each of us through collective worship, fellowship and celebrating major life events
  • places of creativity, artistry and heritage, which enable people to be inspired and uplifted by what are often landmark historic buildings.

Repairing, maintaining and redeveloping church buildings enables churches to grow spiritually and numerically by enabling more and better activities and services to take place. In our Diocese, these include toddler groups, lunch clubs for older people, community cafés, support groups, meeting spaces, activity classes, children’s and young people’s clubs, cultural performances and rehearsals, school visits, community events and a heritage asset contributing to local tourism. This is in addition to the Christian and civic services, most notably Sunday services, life-events (weddings, funerals and baptisms), special services (such as Easter, Harvest, Remembrance and Christmas), and opportunities to explore and grow in the Christian faith.

Aspiration for church buildings

Our church buildings and halls will be a positive witness and asset to the Christian faith for the glory of God. They will be well maintained and with appropriate facilities for all who come through the doors to feel welcome, supported and uplifted in order to be more connected with the saving grace of God.

In our Diocese, more church buildings will realise their potential, open more throughout the week and with a viable plan for long term sustainability; thus helping the church be more engaged and valued by local communities.

Priority areas

This aspiration will be achieved by supporting and encouraging parishes with:

Strategic Planning

  • As part of the urban transformation programme, for deaneries to prayerfully seek and discuss God’s will for buildings that strengthen the positive impact of the church locally to bring God’s kingdom come. Place-based strategies will be developed. The learning from this process may benefit other deaneries seeking to take a more strategic approach to building assets
  • For the Diocese to be up-to-date and participate in national and regional developments and opportunities
  • Better share our knowledge and pool resources in the Diocese in order to better manage church building assets

Fit for purpose

  • Repair and sensitively adapt church buildings in order to be fit for purpose to fulfil God’s calling whilst safeguarding the special, sacred ambience and heritage as a place of worship
  • Care for church buildings through preventative maintenance to reduce the risk of future high cost repairs
  • Diocesan support will be offered in priority areas: developing vision, community engagement, preventative maintenance, financial resilience- cost saving and revenue generation, including fundraising, developing plans for long-term sustainability, volunteer development

Open doors

To be a welcoming open door as a place of worship, celebrating our Christian heritage and culture in order to enable more people to encounter Christ. In particular, to

  • Better understand and connect with the needs and assets of local communities
  • Open and use church buildings more often during the week for activities and for visitors
  • Understand and share the significance of our Christian heritage and culture in engaging ways

Anticipated Outcome

The intended outcome is that more people will value and engage with church buildings as an uplifting space for quiet prayer and reflection, for learning, understanding, connecting and supporting, for inspiration, enjoyment and creative expression and contributing to a positive sense of place for the local area; thus seeking to remove barriers and build bridges to enable more people to encounter Christ.

 

Image reference: St Michael and All Angels, Macclesfield