the story since Breaking New Ground
of operating or structuring our church life. At one stage Breaking New
Many in the Church of England, and not just those involved in church
planting, are asking for recognition that human life is lived in a complex
array of networks and that the neighbourhoods, where people reside,
may hold only a very minor loyalty.
As the established Church, the Church of England has a special
responsibility to seek to be a Church for the nation. We are to serve those
who reside in the geographical area of each parish, care for those who live
in neighbourhoods that may overlap with parish geography, and minister
to those who inhabit networks that are disconnected from the notion of
parish or territory. Each is equally our responsibility and our care.
stories and guidance
Breaking New Ground contained stories of positive and less positive
ways of church planting. It offered definitions of `church' and `plant'.
It gave guidelines and advice, but avoided formal constitutions and tight
procedures that might crush vitality or zeal. And it included steps on how,
in partnership with the diocese, to mature a church plant.
As a report, it was primarily permission giving, not future looking. General
Synod debated the report and commended it for study to the wider Church.
life moves on
Since 1994, experience has taught a variety of lessons.
from cross boundary to non boundary
Breaking New Ground was written partly as a response to concern about
cross boundary plants. Cross boundary plants have diminished from 25 per
cent in 1985 91, to 17 per cent since 1992.
A decline in the closure of
church buildings has meant that there are fewer redundant buildings to
adopt, and the two to three year negotiations involved in crossing a parish
boundary may also be daunting. However, with new house building set to
increase up to the year 2020, the percentage may go up again.
In a network based society there is a shift towards the planting of `non
boundary', network churches. Over a dozen (mainly urban) have begun
since 1995. They have developed as a mission response to particular