Our Continuing Vision
Our vision statement has informed the strategic direction of the Diocese for a decade:
“The Diocese of Sheffield is called to grow a sustainable network of Christ–like, lively and diverse Christian communities in every place which are effective in making disciples and in seeking to transform our society and God’s world.”
We long to see sustainable Christian communities in every place. We long to see the Body of Christ grow in depth and in numbers. We long to see every disciple, and the whole Church, better serving our local communities and wider society.
As with many dioceses, our capacity to realise this vision and to minister effectively to our communities requires a creative approach to a number of challenges. How we address these is fundamental to our strategy and we will be looking to our new Chief Executive to work across the diocese to enable us to deliver our mission. Our key challenges are:
- Attendance (2016 data): the Diocese of Sheffield sits in the bottom quartile of Church of England dioceses for per capita attendance and for attendance decline in the past decade. In 1989, over 20,000 adults worshipped routinely in our churches on Sundays; thirty years later, the number is just over 12,000.
- Budgets: in 2009 parish share revenues amounted to £4.8m; in 2018, they had fallen to £4.3m. Together with falling fees income, falling revenues from rents and investments and reduced grant income, this represents a serious financial challenge.
Church structures: many of our buildings are not located where we would site them if we were building now nor are they configured as flexibly as we would design them if we were building now. In addition, many will require significant investment to keep the fabric sound.
Demographics (2016 data): on average 1.3% of the population of the Diocese routinely worships in a Church of England church on Sundays, this figure is not uniform for every age-group. It is 3.1% of those aged 66-75 and by contrast, it is just 0.9% of those aged 25-45 and 0.2% of those aged 18-24.
Renewed, Released, Rejuvenated!
To meet this escalating challenge, the senior staff consulted widely with deaneries and other bodies through 2017-18, and in October 2018 launched the new strategy to realise a flourishing and generous Diocese of Sheffield by 2025: renewed, released and rejuvenated!
We seek to be a Diocese renewed in the grace and power of God, by a constant reliance on the Holy Spirit. To this end, we have created a prayer community whose members commit to praying daily for the renewal of the Diocese. The community has 340 members so far: we are seeking to recruit 2025. We have composed a Diocesan Vision Prayer to be said daily and we are heartened by the number of people and congregations making regular use of it.
We seek to be a Diocese released from the constraints which hold us back from mission, and released, as the whole people of God for the whole mission of God. To this end, we have begun a radical assessment of our church buildings to determine which are assets in mission (or have the potential to be). We have been taking part in a learning community for Setting God’s People Free and have a number of initiatives underway to enable all the baptised to realise their calling to be Lights for Christ in the world.
We seek to be a Diocese rejuvenated — partly through a dedicated and sustained programme of outreach to families, children and young people (the Centenary Project and related SDF Children, Young People and Families Project) and partly through the creation of 75 new congregations, including 25 in our church schools. We are encouraged by the number of parishes whose 2019 Mission Action Planning returns include a commitment to establishing a new congregation within the next three years. This process will undoubtedly be greatly helped by our successful SDF bid to establish Resourcing Churches in Rotherham, Goole and Wath — we expect to have 12 such churches across the full geographical and theological breadth of the Diocese by 2025.