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Parish planning: Visioning days and Mission Action Plan days


The Ven. Bronwyn Pagram and The Rev’d Shane Hubner share their highlights, insights and learnings from recent visioning and Mission Action Plan days

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The Ven. Bronwyn Pagram – Priest-in-Charge, The Parish of Goodna

When I walked into the church for our Mission Action Plan (MAP) planning day, I laughed out loud. Small tables were scattered around the room, topped with flipchart paper, coloured markers and sticky notes. A large centrepiece had been placed on our board table…fluffy animals encircled with bright picture cards. Data and maps were posted on the walls. The space had been carefully planned to show us how far we had come to date, and to help us to clarify the next steps. Ministry Development Officer The Rev’d Tim Booth had listened carefully and prepared the space so we could maximise our time together.

Our gathering of about four hours included prayer, story-telling, hard data analysis, and laying out our MAP for the year. It was very valuable taking time out of the regular Parish Council meeting times to focus exclusively on this important topic. Strategy is not normal day-to-day work, and we needed that focused time to make decisions on how and when we would pull the pieces of the MAP together.

Our meeting’s goal was to structure a plan for 2023 that would get us from the many strands of discernment work that have been underway to a cohesive documented three-year plan that we can iteratively consult with the parish and wider Diocese about. This is necessary because we have the next 30-50 years in mind. Our goal is to launch the plan late in 2023. In the meantime we have a number of smaller initiatives underway to explore options and build capacity in the parish.

By the end of the meeting, Council organised into small groups around particular pieces of work. We identified check-in dates and whom we can approach for inputs or approvals. It is a big job, but we have a quiet confidence in God’s leading. It is encouraging to know that there are others in the wider Diocese who readily provide insight and support.

Christ Church, St Lucia parishioners

Christ Church, St Lucia parishioners discussing goals during a visioning day session on 11 February 2023

The Rev’d Shane Hubner – Priest-in-Charge, The Parish of St Lucia

Being the new Priest-in-Charge of Christ Church, St Lucia I wanted to get a sense of where the parish was situated. The parish had a long interregnum and so I was keen to have a planning session with key leaders to establish some goals for 2023.

I set up a morning visioning session with Tim and the Parish Council members. What became a session highlight for me was the sense of a common vision that emerged quickly. No doubt some of this can be attributed to the amount of pre-planning and information given out before the session; however, there was also a strong sense of the Spirit in the room.

One key insight that we took away from our time together is that less is more. We were able to take our eight goals and agree on a set of three:

  1. build our major strength (i.e. music)
  2. understand more fully the context in which we exist (i.e. establish an institute of learning)
  3. invest in young people (i.e. grow our families and youth ministry).

These goals don’t take a rocket scientist to identify, but having time to focus on them was incredibly valuable and gave the Parish Council a sense of hope.

We took these goals to the parish’s annual meeting and subsequently set up small groups for each goal. These groups report to Parish Council and the reports are a priority item for our meetings. The next step is establishing mini goals for each area.

We have realised that good communication is key to the success of anything we do, and so we have also begun work as a church on establishing good communications channels.

Editor’s note: Because the mission that God is calling every parish to is unique to its specific context, each benefits from its own prayerful and reflective co-designed discernment process. If you would like to find out more about holding a Visioning Day in your parish, please contact Ministry Development Officer The Rev’d Tim Booth via email or on 0460 030 575.

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