If you subscribe to the E-Bulletin you’ll have seen that we’ve been reminding parishes to visit the Church of England’s Online Parish Returns System to provide information about their parish. But why?
To many, it can seem like a bit of a burden, that might not appear to reap any benefits to those who take the time and effort to submit their information. But the reality is that providing the information can really help the Diocese of Chester and the National Church to make informed decisions based on real data.
Martin Smith, the Christian Giving and Pastoral Reorganisation Adviser in the Diocese of Chester, encourages parishes to provide their information for the year 2021 by visiting the Online Parish Returns System before the 20 March 2022 deadline.
Martin says: "The more parishes that take the time to partake in the Annual Statistics for Mission, the better the overall assessment will be. Whether your parish is thriving or in need of some help, the information supplied will help us to deliver support to parishes across the diocese."
What are the benefits to parishes and the diocese?
Without facts, we can only make decisions based on assumptions.
As each local church discerns its own plans for mission and ministry, understanding the local context is essential. In recent years, the Church of England’s Research and Statistics Unit has been working to turn the data it receives into accessible information, which parishes can use. For example, parishes can now download their own Parish Dashboard which provides information about attendance, the worshipping community, baptisms, marriages and funerals, etc. thus informing the direction and decisions they take.
For Church House, having an accurate understanding of where parishes are up to helps us set key priorities and develop strategies for growth. It also helps inform our programme of events and initiatives and helps us provide training that is useful and relevant.
The same can be said of the National Church having access to accurate statistics.
Download the Statistics for Mission - Why Bother? document for more information on how and why statistics matter.
Individually Guided Retreat
Now that you've submitted your Annual Statistics for Mission, why not consider a retreat at Foxhill?
Have you ever thought how wonderful – and how challenging - it might be to step out of the busyness of everyday life, turn off your phone, leave your jobs behind, and offer your full attention to God who loves you? This retreat is a breathing-space. A time to rest. A time to listen to God. Book now.