Parish Profiles

I saw a facebook post today from a fellow priest (hello Ruth!) discussing the churches she is looking after during their vacancy. Ruth asked what clergy would like to see in a parish profile.

When looking for a new job recently I had a browse through quite a few. It was interesting reflecting on what my criteria were for investigating further. Fair to say the job I got had a goodly amount of the below.

So for anyone involved in parish profile writing, here’s my advice.

1) Say what your mission is, and where you want a priest to join in with that mission. Don’t say “we are looking for someone to shape our mission” If you don’t know what you’re there for, it’s going to be a struggle for any priest to motivate you.

2) Remove the words “vibrant” and “friendly” from any parish profile. Every church thinks they’re friendly, even the really horrible ones. When it comes to being friendly and vibrant, Show don’t tell. It should be clear from the profile.

3) If you’ve done a SWOT analysis, share it in the profile. A congregation that knows itself is always better than one who doesn’t, however large the “T” section of the SWOT is.

4) A priest in looking at your parish profile is prepared to move house and home, in order to join in a community of people who seek to be faithful to God and to love one another. Try and share that in the profile. If you make your parish profile sound like a professional business document, you’re saying something about how the parish feels about itself. No-one wants to be part of a family whose chief characteristic is good pagination and formatting.

5) If you have lots of pictures of your church and no pictures of your people, you are telling the priest that the building is more important than the congregation.

6) If you make no mention about growth and the future, you are telling the priest that you have no vision for growth or the future.

7) If you DO want to grow, and change, and get new people in and have more children in your church – show that you actually mean that – say what you are prepared to change in order to have that happen. There are plenty of books on church growth and change – make sure before you write your profile someone has read at least one of them!

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About frpip

Priest, Dad, A long way away. You can call me Father Father Father.
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12 Responses to Parish Profiles

  1. revruth says:

    Thank you so much. This will be the focus of our talks over the coming weeks.

  2. Lavender Buckland says:

    You might like to have a look at our website http://www.chalkevalley.org.uk/ [a] because it gives an idea of the community [and websites should be something every parish does WELL!] and [b] because here is our profile/prospectus http://www.chalkevalley.org.uk/join-in/ for our recent very successful search for a Missioner cum Team Vicar ..and it would be very interesting to hear if it is helpful in your own context. [why is it still on the website? because it is about to be adapted/updated to apply to the post of Rector, as ours is retiring very shortly – and this is a reference point for those thinking of who we might be seeking]

  3. Anonymous says:

    Do you mean SWOT analysis? Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats? Is the ‘SWAT’ analysis you’re referring to in your text something different?
    Personally, I don’t agree with the 4th point. This concept of ‘the church as a family’ is completely irrelevant nowadays when after the service people just go back to their homes and lock behind their doors. And what does it mean “to love one another”? Please explain. Damian

    • frpip says:

      oops! I’ve corrected the “Swat”. In terms of the 4th point, I was saying what I would be looking for. If that’s not what the church is wanting, they will probably be looking for someone other than me!

      • Anonymous says:

        To me, words like ‘love’ and ‘family’ in a church context have become nothing more than cliches. So, in your opinion and experience, what are the signs (or characteristics) of a ‘loving’ church or a church that functions as a ‘family’? How do you recognise these churches?

      • Anonymous says:

        Pip, I have another question for you. If priests are so selective about the churches they serve and only choose the ‘loving’ ones, who will look after those churches that are not doing so well? Damian

  4. Anonymous; feedback on our chalke valley website [see link above] tells us that people see a rotating gallery of *people* doing different things, and this confirms the idea of a community which calls itself church – and one where people obviously care about each other [see all the things going on in the Valley, most are involving others and open to anyone]

  5. PS the applicants for our advertised post of Missioner/Team Vicar all said they had spent serious time reading through our website, and on the strength of that as much as of the advertisement, had wanted to apply.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, can’t find the link you are referring to. Damian
    P.S. The ‘Anonymous’ is me (Damian), I forgot to sign my comment.

    • Damian here’s the link [the comment was awaiting moderation] You might like to have a look at our website http://www.chalkevalley.org.uk/ [a] because it gives an idea of the community [and websites should be something every parish does WELL!] and [b] because here is our profile/prospectus http://www.chalkevalley.org.uk/join-in/ for our recent very successful search for a Missioner cum Team Vicar ..and it would be very interesting to hear if it is helpful in your own context. [why is it still on the website? because it is about to be adapted/updated to apply to the post of Rector, as ours is retiring very shortly – and this is a reference point for those thinking of who we might be seeking]

    • can’t leave the link it seems till my comment is moderated! if you can, here it is in a different format… www. and then chalkevalley.org.uk and to see the profile add /join-in

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