Mission-Shaped Parish  

Review of (and recommendation for) ‘Mission-shaped parish: traditional church in a changing context.’
By Paul Bayes & Tim Sledge.
Published by Church House publishing, 2006.

The Bishop of London (the Rt Revd Richard Chartres) says in the foreword to this collection of essays – ‘this contribution to the mission-shaped series is full of confidence about the missionary potential of traditional parish church ministry’ (p. vii). And so it is! After the helpful introduction by Paul Bayes, there are ten chapters, each written by a different contributor, each of which explores through actual examples, some of the ways and means in which parishes are participating in the mission of the church, largely by simply doing what they already do, but doing it more effectively and with missional intent. 

The chapters cover:

1. The value of values – building mission centered values into the life of the church.

2. That was then… drawing on the long history of mission in the past.

3. Mission-shaped worship – on doing tradition, and liturgy, well, with an (accessible) mission focus.

4. The chores of grace? On the evangelistic potential of pastoral services and rites of passage.

5. Mission-shaped Isle of Dogs – a description of how a community transforming ministry grew out of a eucharistically centered parish in London’s Docklands.

6. Friendship, community and mission – exploring relational evangelism in the local community.

7. Mission-shaped civic Church – on the missional potential for civic ministry (on occasions such as Remembrance Day, for instance).

8. The place of nurture – small groups and Christian education programs as pathways into the life of the church.

9. We can't go on meeting like this – on the vestry meeting and its role in the mission of the church.

10. Mission-shaped cathedrals.

The strength of this collection of essays and stories lies in its capacity to be used widely, and especially in the sort of parish settings that continue to abound in the suburbs and country towns today, to give impetus and ideas for effective ministry that is faithful, traditional, and missional.

Available from Church House publishing. 

Review by Bradly Billings