As a Home Mission Visitor and a Mission Consultant for more
than 20 years I offer the following suggestions about Home Mission support.
Although they referring primarily to churches receiving a grant to help them
have a minister they can also apply to other mission situations.
1) There should be a
time limit on grants. If after a set number of years a church has not reached the
point where it is supporting its minister, then the conclusion should be that
that church should only seek a part time minister. Grant support could however
still be available under suggestion 2.
2) In most
situations, grant support for a minister should imply that the minister spend
some of his or her time and energy supporting Association life and mission
beyond the church that has called them. If stipend plus pension contributions
plus manse is valued at around £30,000 p.a. then a church receiving a Home
Mission Grant of £3,000 should release its minister to serve the wider Association
for 10% of his time, £6,000 implying 20% and so on. There are so many ways in
which those ministers could serve other churches within the Association, not
least through suggestions 3-6 below.
Consultancies can be very helpful to churches. Grant supported churches should expect
to have a Mission Consultancy every three years, and be expected to make good
progress with their action plans in between. Grant funding should be available
to help a church make the changes a Mission Consultancy reveals would be
4) A prior
incarnation of the current Mission Consultancy process was Action In Mission.
This was in some ways a more in-depth examination not only of a church’s
mission but of all aspects of its life, its patterns of worship and activities.
Some churches would surely benefit from such an extended “Mission Consultancy PLUS”
and it would be good if such a process could be formulated and then offered to
any church which requests it.
5) In addition to
Mission Consultancies, Grant supported churches (and any other churches who
wish) should have an Association recognised “Mission Partner” or “Mission
Mentor” who will meet with the church leadership or church meeting say every
three months to encourage and support the church with ideas, training and an objective
“outsider’s view” of their life and mission.
6) Every church
should be supported both with advice and finance in improving their
communications: effective signage, a functioning web presence, appropriate
strategies for publicity, etc.
7) The present Home Mission grants
system does little to encourage relationships between churches. If another
church wishes to bless a grant aided church with financial support, this simply
leads to a reduction in next year’s grant. There should be a mechanism whereby
one church can take another church “under its wing” in some respects, without
disadvantaging that church. Suppose Church A offers a gift of £5000 to
grant-aided Church B. Why not let half of that gift go to Home Mission, and the
other half stay with Church B for their use with no penalty on the grant they
receive. This would surely encourage churches with resources available to build
meaningful links with other churches.