Are you interested in starting up a local Churches Together group (or similar) in your area? If so, we’ve brought together these top tips to help you get started…
1. Talk with local church leaders
Local Churches Together groups always work best when local church leaders are on board. Getting the support of your own local church leader/minister is a good place to start. S/he will also be able to tell you if there is anything already established in your area, like a local ministers’ meeting.
If there is a local ministers’ meeting, try asking if you can attend to discuss the possibility of starting up a broader group. Be ready to say what you think its purpose would be.
If there isn’t anything happening locally, why not start by visiting, phoning, emailing or writing to local church leaders:
- explaining your idea
- asking if they’re aware of any unity groups already active in the area (there may be some which you’re not aware of)
- asking for their thoughts on setting up a local group
- asking whether/how they and their church might want to get involved.
Remember to connect with churches from a wide range of traditions, including Orthodox, Pentecostal, Charismatic, and independent churches if they are present in your area.
If someone mentions that there used to be a local group which is no longer functioning, it might be worth finding someone who was involved to try and find out why it ended.
We’d encourage you to pray about this idea, asking for God’s guidance and for God’s blessing on churches in the local area. When you share the idea with others, you can also encourage them to be praying.
3. Connect with the Intermediate Body in your area
Tap into the great network of County Ecumenical Officers across England. They serve Churches Together and other church unity groups across a particular county (or similar area), and are full of useful knowledge and advice. Find the contact in your area…
4. Start small
If other churches do seem interested in beginning to work together, our advice would be to start small. Perhaps aim at holding a joint service for Pentecost, or some joint action around Thy Kingdom Come, or a service during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Find out more about what unity looks like at the local level here.
You could also start by encouraging all the churches in the area to begin supporting an initiative already being run by churches locally – such as Street Pastors or a food bank or winter night shelter. Find out more about the ways churches are working together in their community in our mission section.
At some stage, it may be time to look at whether representatives from the churches want to begin meeting regularly, perhaps three times a year. For ideas on what structure this may take, see the next point for information on A Flexible Framework for Local Unity in Mission’.
5. Use the Flexible Framework toolkit to decide on the best structure for your group
Once churches do begin working together locally, you may begin to wonder what the best structure would be for your group going forward.
A Flexible Framework for Local Unity in Mission is an easy-to-use framework which helps local churches to collaborate with confidence and flexibility, developing the right agreement for your venture.
Our Flexible Framework toolkit guides you step by step, explaining a variety of different agreements you could use, and helping you decide which will work best for your group.
In Section 6 of this Toolkit, where it speaks about Working and Partnership Agreements, there are many questions which you will find useful to consider.
There is also other help available: On our page Agreements/Constitutions for local groups, you can also find a pro forma Agreement for local Churches Together and similar groups. This uses the same principles as A Flexible Framework, and is worth looking at, as it may help to future-proof your group.
6. Connect with other groups nearby
If you’re aware of any local Churches Together groups in neighbouring villages or towns, why not get in touch, start to build a relationship, and share ideas together. Your County Ecumenical Officer may be able to help you connect with local groups.
Find out more
- For more information on constitutions for local Churches Together groups, see Agreements/Constitutions for local groups
- For more information on which churches can join local Churches Together groups, see ‘Who can join my local Churches Together group?‘
- Find out more about what unity looks like at a local level
- Find out more about the ways churches are working together in their community in our mission section
- See our full local unity section with a range of resources and stories.
Do also get in touch with the County Ecumenical Officer for your area.