Gathering together locally
In a village, town or city suburb, congregations often group together to strengthen their witness to the local community. Such groups are where many congregations express their ecumenical relationships. They should not be just another organisation for those who 'are keen on that sort of thing' but should be where the local congregations meet to share a common life, witness and mission. A key question is: 'What decisions could the churches be making together instead of separately?'
Many such groups are long-standing and many call themselves 'Churches Together groups'. Some are very similar but prefer not to use that name. Some have a Covenant relationship to which local church leaders commit themselves publicly. Some are very active in united prayer and worship and social action, like Street Pastors or Foodbanks, while others might focus on joint worship like the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and/or Lenten study groups. All ecumenical groupings, however formal or informal, whatever they choose to call themselves, are supported by Intermediate Bodies.
There are 2,500 'Churches Together' groups in England, in all sizes of village, town, city and region. Search the web for a local group or contact the County Ecumenical Officer who may be able to help. Some groups have taken up the offer of a micro website with Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
As well as groups calling themselves 'Churches Together', new networks for mission have been forming over recent years, some very similar to Churches Together groups (though they don't often use the name) and some operating alongside Churches Together groups. The Evangelical Alliance works closely with them. Visit We Gather.
All groups, whether formal or informal, need some structure to protect themselves. However light-touch you want to be, don't just assume that structures are not for you. A good structure describes what you do, protects it, and has an eye to future growth.