What We Do

What is parish development?

Parish Development is about enabling parishes to have

  • A clearer sense of direction
  • A clarity of focus on priorities
  • A commitment to leadership as something that is shared
  • A deeper sense of ownership and more involvement from parishioners
  • A greater motivation to persevere
  • And hope for the future!

How does Church21 work?

Parish development in the Church of Ireland is an intentional process designed to enable parishes to both define themselves in relation to their heritage and to adapt to the new challenges and opportunities that are emerging in society


It does this by:

  • Envisioning parish teams at regular Parish Development Conferences
  • Motivating parishes to take the next natural step on their own journey of development
  • Equipping them with resources that will help them in the process of transitioning


The process recognises that each parish is at a different stage of development and offers the parish a way of assessing its current situation and health. It allows the parish to assess its own needs and to set its own agenda. Doing this together with other parishes as part of the Church21 process offers an extra degree of support.


Parishes will have the opportunity to come together at intervals to process their progress and to share the encouraging stories (and frustrations!) of their journey of development.



Is it for You?

The Church21 Parish Development Process won’t be suitable for every church.

It may help prayerfully to walk through the steps below, preferably with other leaders from your church, to discern whether or not it is right for you.

Step 1 –Ask: Can our parish say “Yes” to any of these statements?

  • Our members are tired and we have trouble finding enough people to help
  • We want our parish to be more welcoming of people of all ages
  • There are people around us with whom we have little connection we want to help our congregation to reach out to them
  • We’re stable but we know there is something better than being stable
  • We want to see our parish make an impact where we live
  • We are clearer about where we are coming from than where we are going to

…then Church 21 may be for you.

Step 2 – Please answer the following questions:

  • Can we be absolutely honest about our current state as a church?
  • Are we prepared to recognise that patterns of ministry which worked well in the past do not necessarily meet the needs of people today?
  • Do we have a willingness to think beyond the conventional?
  • Are we ready to share leadership?
  • Are we ready to see through a process of change that may take several years to complete?
  • Will we communicate well why and what is happening to our whole parish?
  • Are we ready to go beyond our comfort zones?

If you can answer yes to the above your parish may be ready for Church21.

Churches whose priority is not to rock the boat will be unlikely to benefit.