Shaped By God Together

Bishop Martyn and Bishop Guli called us to pray as we go through a process across the diocese which began in September 2020, seeking to be Shaped By God Together.
You can find prayer and liturgy resources on a new web page and watch to the Bishops' original call to pray video message above.
You can download a transcript of this video by clicking here

Update 17 November 2021:

Update 9 October 2021:

Synod votes for a new framework for the diocese

On 9 October Diocesan Synod voted for a new Minster Communities framework for the diocese following more than a year of prayer, conversations and discernment. The two Shaped By God Together papers sent to Synod members ahead of their meeting can be read on our Synod web page here: Diocese of Leicester | Diocesan Synod ( . Synod members voted overwhelmingly in favour (72%) of the framework with an amendment. You can read Bishop Martyn's reassurance that our parishes will remain front and centre by clicking here and you can download a short summary of the amended Minster Communities framework which Synod has voted for by clicking here.

Where are we now? November 2021

This video has been created as an update on the Shaped By God Together Process. Diocesan Synod voted for a new Minster Communities framework for the diocese; what does that mean? And what is next?

Please share this video with your communities to help answer these questions and give a brief update on where we are in the process. 

Download the video here
Download a transcript of the video which can be printed here


Download a leaflet that outlines the details of the Shaped By God Together Process here:
- Black and White download
- Colour download






The Background
We are facing both exciting opportunities and significant constraints upon us as a Church as we continue to seek to be ‘Shaped by God Together.' We have constraints of finance, including the use of our historical assets as well as our current patterns of giving, of ministry, including the developments of pioneers, the retirement and recruitment patterns of clergy and lay ministers, and the development of the whole people of God, and of buildings, including our churches, our halls and facilities. However, our planning for the future cannot be solely dominated by these constraints. God is a God of movement, who calls us to growth and change – and so we need to notice and be open and attentive to the new and exciting things God is doing amongst us and through us - how can we be ‘Shaped by God Together’? We are therefore seeking to gather information about our experiences of everyday faith in order to better discern the way ahead. To do this ‘together’ we need to understand the complex dynamics at play amongst the 19,000 people, 320 churches, 80 fresh expressions of Church and other worshipping communities who make up our diocesan family. We are seeking to be faithful to the past, the present, and to our future, and want everyone’s story to be a part of the process. These stories will help us to discern emerging patterns and will inform our future. We have learnt much recently, about our Everyday Faith and our 3 Key Questions. We have noted values of creativity, generosity and attentiveness that we seek to further develop. We know the way ahead contains a number of difficult questions and hard decisions.
The process so far

October 2021:
The Diocesan framework of Minster Communities was debated at Diocesan Synod on 9 October, following an introduction in the form of Bishop Martyn’s Presidential Address. A Minster Community will be a "group of parishes" who work together to collaborate in mission without losing their individual identity, and who work alongside their church schools, fresh expressions of Church, chaplaincies etc. An amendment was passed that the stipendiary (paid) leadership team of at least four people (including lay and ordained roles) in each of the 20-25 MCs will be led by an Oversight Minister who is ordained. One of the team will be a Growing Faith focussed minister (lay or ordained) to increase inclusion of children and young people within the ministry of our churches and fresh expressions. As well as the Oversight Minister, the leadership teams will comprise at least (but not limited to, depending on resources) three other stipendiary posts.

Because of the importance of the decision Synod was being asked to take, the Synod papers were published on the diocesan website in advance of the meeting, so that all across the Diocese were aware of the proposed framework. Bishop Martyn also released a video highlighting the valued place of parishes in the ongoing life of the diocese.

The Synod debated with generosity and honesty, for several hours with over 35 people speaking prior to the vote on the substantive motion. The framework was overwhelmingly supported (72%) by Synod, with a greater than 2/3 majority in each of the three “houses” of Synod (bishops, clergy and laity) and it is intended it will gradually be brought into place by 2026, depending on discussions between parishes, schools and fresh expressions working together to decide what their local leadership will be. Bishop Martyn said: “Nothing is going to change overnight and everything will be done in discussion with parishes. Every PCC, school governing body and fresh expression will be involved. Each will decide for itself how they engage with this.” This vote means that we now have a clear mandate to work with our parishes to grow links with schools and increase resources for children and young people and recognise their place in our sacramental ministry.

September 2021:
A further meeting of Bishop’s Council, Area Deans, Lay Deanery Chairs and some Diocesan Officers took place on 13 September. Work had been undertaken throughout the summer months to develop a diocesan framework. This work sought to bring together the most positive aspects of the two ministry models, A (Minsters) and B (Mission Areas), while addressing the concerns regarding each. The diocesan framework of Minster Communities was considered in depth at the meeting, in a spirit of gracious honesty and prayerful discernment, the meeting voted strongly in favour of recommending the diocesan framework of Minster Communities to Diocesan Synod.

July 2021:
The Shaped By God Together process took an important step forward following a two-day meeting of Bishop's Council, Area Deans, Lay Deanery Chairs and some Diocesan Officers (6-8 July).

Prior to the meeting, Claire Bampton (SBGT Programme Manager) and a team from the Mission and Ministry department had spent two weeks analysing data sent in by parishes following their Local Conversations which have taken place over the last couple of months. This was one of the biggest consultative exercises ever undertaken by the diocese, with 85,000 words from nearly 400 local conversations about the three proposed models of ministry being read and analysed. You can read some of the Local Conversation feedback which was provided to the meeting (in addition to the 80+ page report which they had in advance) by clicking here. The meeting was clear on the need for change in light of missional imperative, pastoral burden on clergy and laity and financial challenges.

The meeting concluded that there are positive elements in both models A (Minsters) and B (Mission Areas) to take forward, and that the Bishop's Leadership Team will do some work in the next two months with the aim of creating a single model to act as a framework for the diocese that draws from both of these.

This framework will be brought back to an Extended Bishop’s Council in September before going to Diocesan Synod in October for a formal vote. Following that, our worshipping communities will be supported in exploring what the new framework will mean for them in coming years by a series of local conversations about how it can be applied locally to support their own vision and mission.

Bishop Martyn said: “I’m pleased that we’ve been able to take this significant next step on our journey of discernment. I have always been clear that this is a process in which the whole diocese needs to be involved and I am grateful to colleagues for facilitating this listening exercise. We clearly have more work to do to clarify the new framework and then explore with parishes how this can be implemented in their context, acknowledging that it will look different in rural, urban, and suburban areas. But we can be confident that God is reshaping us and God will strengthen us for all that lies ahead.

“We were rightly encouraged by our guests Leicester Cathedral Canon Theologian Cathy Ross and Oxford Brookes University Chaplain Shemil Matthews, to recognise and celebrate our diversity as a “fellowship of the unlike” and to use grace, courage, vulnerability, imagination and resilience as we prayerfully take one step at a time on this journey.”

May and June 2021

During May and early June Bishop Martyn asked every church and worshipping community to hold a prayerful Local Conversation. The conbersations were led by local leaders and will introduced Shaped By God Together and enabled all to explore three possible ministry models together. From that session, we collected feedback on the various options for the way we shape our future ministry. To find out more about the local conversations please click here.

April and May 2021

April and May 2021 During April and May deanery webinars were held for local leaders to learn more about the potential ministry models that have been put forward as part of this process and to be equipped to run local conversations around these models. Transcripts of the live Q&A from these webinars can be downloaded here.  A full document of Q&A from the webinars can be downloaded here.

March 2021

- Further insights from the stories were shared, looking at some of the tensions that have been highlighted during the 'sense making' process.

February 2021

- Synod members were then invited to take part in 14 conversation groups looking at the three areas of focus in the Shaped By God Together process – Ministry, Finance and Buildings. A summary can be found here.

January 2021

- On 18 January 2021 Bishop’s Council met and, amongst other agenda items, received an update on the SBGT process. Bishop Martyn put forward a proposal, which was well supported by Council, that we slow the pace of this process a little, and work towards bringing proposals to Diocesan Synod in the autumn, rather than May. We’ve always known that the SBGT process would require a lot of work and a considerable amount of that has been done already, from the stories shared, insights gathered and the initial work of the workstreams, for which we are very grateful. We need to ensure the wellbeing of all those involved, given the added pressures of this considerable piece of work in the challenging context of ongoing pandemic restrictions. The ideas being developed in the workstreams have surpassed expectations and are already making encouraging progress, and pulling together ideas from what we have learned through story gathering and insights work. We need to ensure that the process is done well and it is becoming clear that we need more time to ensure the decisions we make are the best they can be.

- An invite was sent out to the Shaped By God Together Conversations taking place during February and March.

December 2020

- Insights drawn from the storytelling process were shared:

To read a summary of each insight above click here

November 2020

- Diocesan Synod voted for the SBGT process and priorities.

This video was released explain the timeline for the process along with a downloadable poster that showed the timeline.






- This video was released to explain how diocesan values and priorities underpin the various stages of the Shaped By God Together process

October 2020

- This update was shared in mid October.

September 2020

- Bishop Martyn and Bishop Guli issued a Call to Prayer

- The Gathering Stories, Generating Insight process began

- Bishop Martyn’s gave a reflection on Psalm 62 and address to Diocesan Synod, 22 September 2020

- This slide was shared with Diocesan Synod on 22 September 2020 as part of a presentation updating on the Shaped By God Together process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
November 2021:
As Diocesan Synod voted for a new Minster Communities framework for the diocese we have produced a new set of FAQ's in relation to this framework and the SBGT process from here

During April and May deanery webinars were held for local leaders to learn more about the potential ministry models that have been put forward as part of this process and to be equipped to run local conversation around these models. Transcripts of the live Q&A from these webinars can be downloaded here. A full list of all of the Q&As from the webinars can be downloaded here.

Autumn 2020
Here are some questions and answers which we hope might help explain a bit more for those of you who have queries about Shaped By God Together. If they don't cover everything you want to know, please email us on with your question and we will try to get an answer for you.
This image is a graphic representation of the story gathering and insights process is running at the same time as ongoing work and constraints are developing and unfolding as we look to manage our buildings, finance and ministry. All of it combines as our Shaped By God Together process.
Our priorities
Gathering Stories, Generating Insight
This process included an invitation to everyone  diocesan family to share stories of what they had been learning about everyday prayer, everyday witness and everyday action. Open to people of all backgrounds, all ages, all circumstances, everyone in our faith communities was invited to participate in 'Gathering Stories - Generating Insights' from 3 - 30 September 2020.
We collated these stories and invited people from across our faith communities to use them to generate insights about the future of the church – knowing that, while our core remains the same, the way we express our church life may need to look quite different in the future. Influenced by everyone's stories and experiences, we considered together how we care for our buildings, share financial resources and reshape our models of ministry.
Shaped By God Together Working Groups
 A series of working groups , or workstreams, have been formed. Underpinning the whole process is Wellbeing – the group, chaired by Archdecon Claire, is continuing to work on ways in which we can all be equipped to take responsibility for our own wellbeing and attend to the wellbeing of others. The process of story gathering, sense-making and distilling insights and learning from those stories is being coordinated by the Organisational Learning Group, led by Rob Hay.
There are then four groups grappling with questions and challenges in four big areas. The Finance Group, led by Jonathan Kerry, is looking at the financial challenges faced by churches and the diocese. They are exploring ways to ensure that the way we construct our budget, and our Parish Contribution system, can best enable us to provide the ministry we need across the diocese. The Ministry Group is led by Stuart Burns and is exploring different possibilities for what the ministry of clergy, lay ministers, and the whole people of God, could look like in the years to come. Archdeacon Richard is leading the Church Buildings Group. This group is exploring possibilities around how we can support and encourage parishes in the care of church buildings, particularly in those places facing significant challenges. The Support for Ministry Group, led by Dean David Monteith, is exploring the principles that should guide decision making around the provision of supportive roles centrally and locally. The group is gathering learning from within and beyond the diocese to help in this thinking.
Shaped By God Together Liturgy and Prayer Resources
You can find prayer and liturgy resources on a new web page here
Contact Us
We would love to hear from you if you have any questions or feedback regarding the Shaped By God Together process or the new diocesan framework. Please contact Claire Bampton, Diocesan Programme

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