Frequently Asked Questions


What is People & Places?

People and Places (P&P) is a new framework for church leadership, mission and ministry. The traditional Anglican ministry model is that every parish has a church led by an ordained paid (stipendiary) minister. However, this model is no longer sustainable, fair, or a good fit for our diverse city region.

People & Places reimagines church leadership and ministry resources according to population, not historical parish boundaries. The framework aims to share financial resources with fairness across our diocese to build a capable church on a platform for sustainable growth.

Who does People & Places impact?

People & Places will touch every worshipping community within our diocese in one way or another. One of the key aims of the programme is to increase collaboration between churches and parishes, to work together, sharing resources and ideas. Our oversight ministers will have a view at the local level, they will collaborate with the other oversight ministers in the deanery in conjunction with the full-time area dean.

People & Places will touch all aspects of mission and ministry such as discipleship, facilities, governance & finance, pastoral care, public worship and prayer, mission and evangelism, ministry of the word and sacramental ministry. People & Places aims to increase mission and ministry and grow the church. This programme is not about managing decline.

Will my church have a vicar?

Yes, but it may look different from the past. The aim of People & Places is that every church will have at least one local minister, but that local minister may not be ordained, paid or full time, though in many places having one minister who is all three will still be the norm.

What is an Oversight Minister?

The Ordinal speaks of the importance of ‘seeing’ in Christian ministry. Priests are to ‘watch for the signs of God’s new creation’. As well as being messengers and stewards of the Lord, they are also called to be ‘sentinels’ – those whose role it is to stand and keep watch. The development of oversight ministry in Church of England Birmingham is part of a new pattern of relating to equip us further for mission in the 21st century. 

Oversight ministers will be those who set the tone and encourage an ethos where love and mission flourish. This will mean taking care of those around them, prayerfully guiding them, encouraging, equipping and teaching them.

Oversight ministers will lead a ‘community of communities’, comprising a cluster of local churches, Fresh Expressions, church plants, schools' work and context ministry initiatives. Parish support services are available to assist with Bookkeeping, Buildings and HR, helping to lighten the load of these vital everyday tasks.

The Oversight Minister will build a sense of unity, yet ensure that the ‘communities’ are always outward-focused, expressing God’s love and concern for all people, and indeed for creation.
The task of Oversight ministry will be to lead and co-ordinate the activities that serve the parishes,


• to develop a shared vision for mission and ministry together

• to build trust and mutual accountability within the oversight area

• to recognise the distinctiveness of particular areas of mission and ministry

• to identify the scope for collaborative working 

• to enable and sustain the ministries of the whole people of God. 

The growth and the benefit of oversight ministry will be seen as these emphases shape the whole pattern of leadership in Church of England Birmingham, not simply the role of those designated as Oversight Ministers within our structures.

What is a Context Minister, and how do I get access to context ministry?

A key part of the People & Places programme and our wider CofE Birmingham strategy is the discernment, energising and deployment of all God’s people, lay and ordained. Context ministry is a crucial strand, complementary to ordained and local ministries, particularly focused in serving a local context and need.

Together with all God’s people in CofE Birmingham, Context Ministry is part of our aspiration to see ‘more and more confident Christians’, the church as a transforming presence in every community.

Context ministers might include those gifted and called to work in: schools work, administrative or operational support, inter faith mission, specific people group mission such as Anna Chaplaincy or similar networks, parish nurses, evangelists, youth and young adults, disability inclusion, healthcare outreach, social cohesion workers etc.

The first step to deploying context ministry is for parishes and oversight areas to engage fully in the TCAP (Transforming Church Action Planning) process. As the new deaneries come together, every church is encouraged to renew/initiative their TCAP as a current expression of their priorities, focus and needs in the next few years. TCAP is a flexible and enabling process to express where God is leading your parish.

The deanery, supported by their Dean and Lay Chair, will then bring these plans together to discern what a deanery plan looks like. It will be in the interplay of these plans that there should be the right material to discern what context ministry is needed across the deanery, and the deanery will come to an agreed priority list for context ministry. 

Once the plan is agreed and approved and recruitment begins, we expect a full and transparent recruitment process following the best HR practice. HR and the Archdeacons can advise on processes of advertisement, discernment days, interview etc. These should be appropriate to the role and task and seek to be inclusive of people of all backgrounds and situations.

How will the oversight areas be defined?

The two key factors in deciding what the oversight areas are within a deanery are as follows:

• A target architecture that takes into account population (christian & non-christian), deprivation, geographical spread and financial sustainability to help inform local discussions about the appropriate places to be clustered together under common oversight

• Local knowledge from archdeacons, area deans, clergy and lay within the new deaneries

Each deanery will have a project team that will help facilitate local discussions on how best to structure the deanery in order to protect existing collaboration and encourage new growth.

What will it mean to be in an oversight area?

Relating to the Oversight Minister who 

• Makes sure the other ministers (lay and ordained, paid and volunteer, full time and part time) are well supported

• Leads and co-ordinates all the activities serving the parishes

• Helps to draw together the mission plans from different churches and groups

Relating to other Christians from your own and other churches

• Growing more confident together in our faith

• Serving in teams to offer particular ministry - on a Sunday, around the church

• Training together to develop our gifts

Relating to our parish communities in mission

• Serving at the Food Bank, in Care homes, in local schools

• Sharing our faith through different activities and events

What support will be provided to leaders across the Diocese?

Full-time Area Deans: The full-time area deans will have the time to devote to Ministerial Development & the well-being of our leaders. Area Deans will be more available to the parishes they serve, to help all of us become the church that we believe God is calling us to be in this day and for this culture.

Skills Development and Coaching: Each role (Area Dean, oversight minister, local minister, context minister) will need a set of key skills to function effectively. Through coaching, we will enable each leader to understand the skills needed for the role, reflect on their current skill set, and identify steps needed so that they can build all the skills needed for their role. 

We will also train leaders to be coaches, so that they can cascade coaching through the leadership structure.

Leadership Pathways: Leadership is about knowledge as well as skills. Therefore, we are radically rethinking how we support both lay and ordained leaders, so they are equipped to lead in their context. This will be offered on a stream basis with a range of modular leadership tools that will be flexible to support different learning styles.

Mentoring: Our Shaping the Future mentoring programme is already showing the positive effect mentoring can have in the diocese whilst also exposing the need for more. We are developing this further to offer each leader a mentor so that they have someone ‘who has been there before’ to help them navigate their transition to leading within the oversight model.

What support will be provided to our parishes during this change?

Transforming Church Action Planning (TCAP):  The TCAP Team will help you identify your current location and where you want to be. They will facilitate, support and pray with and for you, as you create your own route, shaped by your values and the real-time context of your community. And they will journey with you, as you implement and continually evaluate your route.

HR: People & Places offers a HR service to answer employment-related queries using our expertise of the parish context. In addition, we will help PCCs with recruitment advertising, application forms, interview guidelines, recruitment processing, contracts of employment, policies, procedures, handbooks and letters relating to employment matters.

Buildings: Parish Buildings Services will help with organising Church property reactive repairs and maintenance on behalf of PCCs, which will involve managing a wide range of suppliers and building contractors. We will also assist with implementing various programmes of planned, cyclical and legislative maintenance for churches based upon their five-yearly inspection report.

Bookkeeping: The Parish Bookkeeping service will provide core data entry and bookkeeping assistance to the parish finance administrator.

Stewardship Support: Help is available to support your stewardship campaigns.

Will churches close under People & Places?

Closure is a very local, sensitive and complex process. It is, in fact, not in the Bishop’s power, or a local parishes’ power, to close. A process must be undertaken which eventually goes to a national decision.

Our aim would always be for such conversations to be locally rooted and, as far as possible, consensual and creative, seeking to see what new shapes God’s kingdom may be taking in any particular place.

What are the timescales for People & Places?

The People & Places framework is the new norm and will become the future template for mission and ministry across the diocese. The People & Places Programme that will initially implement the changes throughout our region will run for approximately 5-7 years.

There is a commitment to funding deanery resources such as the full-time Area Dean and their support officer for five years from appointment. This should give the deanery ample time to implement and embed the framework and to start to bear fruit.

Who do I contact for further information?

Bev Heritage - People & Places Programme Support Officer

Tel: 0121 426 0400
Click here to email

Alternatively you can find individual contact details on our 'team page' by clicking here.

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