The primary aim of Growth Action Planning is to help each church in the Diocese to focus on what God longs for it to be like in 5 years time. The church will then decide on its priorities coming year.
The aim of this is to ensure that each church uses its energy and talents wisely. It follows from this that the most important thing in GAP is to discern God’s calling for your church and this means that prayer is central to all that we do in GAP.
Lord Jesus Christ,
The ‘G’ in GAP stands for growth. Growth is about quality of worship, deepening discipleship, growing in prayer and developing our contacts with the wider community. Alongside this, ‘Growth’ in GAP is also about growth in numbers. As a church grows in health it will grow in numbers. GAP asks us to plan for the future of the church in this holistic way but does not allow us to sweep the issue of numerical growth under the carpet. The GAP process should encourage the whole local church to take responsibility in planning and in the implementation of its adopted plans. Discerning the calling of God for your church is the task of the whole people of God together.
There are four stages to the GAP process: Discern, Plan, Act, Review
1. Discern - "If we do not plan for the future, we plan for no future." Robert Schuller
- Listen to God, the church and the local community - the whole church should be involved in this and it needs careful planning from church leaders. Some parishes have found a parish and church audit helpful to look at the church in the context of the wider parish and where you are now.
- Assess your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Opportunities - How are things going? What is going well? What are the sticking points or difficulties? You may want to do this by doing a SWOT analysis or by using the “Seven Marks of a Healthy Church” published in “The Healthy Churches Handbook”, Robert Warren.
- Vision - What do you want your church to be like in 5 years time? The vision should inspire people to pray about the future and to get involved in practical ways.The vision needs to be shaped in prayerful consultation with the people, because to be inspired, they need to really believe in it, and take it to heart.
- Priorities - difficulty comes when you have to balance ambition with practical resources. Do not work on too many strategic initiatives at the same time. GAP is about encouraging churches to do less but do it better.
To make your goal achievable you need to break it down into specific and achievable steps. and appoint an “owner” who takes overall responsibility for coordinating the work. See if the outcome of each step can be measured and set a limit on how long each step should take. Why try and be SMART?
The GAP process is something for the whole church to ‘own’ and it is important for the whole church to know what is happening. It would be helpful for people to have a brief summary of what the GAP plan is for each year. There is strong evidence urging churches to reinforce the message of the Vision and the Plan through all the means of communication that the church has to remind people that it is not a one-off event.
Pray - prayer is at the heart of the GAP process. Encourage people to mention GAP in the intercessions on a Sunday. If you have home study groups ask them to remember your GAP plans in their prayers.
Do - Some new actions will be started, some existing actions will continue, and some may be modified or ended. Owners of the goals and actions may appoint teams of people to work with them and so it is important to plan times to meet for prayer, encouragement and review of progress. It is crucial that the plan is kept alive, and that the actions are progressing as planned.
Give thanks to God - when goals have been achieved or when significant milestones have been reached successfully, celebrate. It is also important to give thanks for the contribution of the people involved.
Stand back from time to time to review how things are going. This should be done by the leaders of the church (the vicar and PCC), and take place at least every two or three months and more frequently for significant actions. This is not only to inform the PCC and team members about progress, but also to provide an opportunity for others to contribute with further suggestions - especially if things are not going as well as expected.
GAP information & documents
|GAP3 - 2012 to 2013|
Resources and parish ideas in action
If you would like any further help with GAP then please contact a member of the Parish Development team who will be more than happy to help!!
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