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Growing the Family

The Pastrow Family is one of three in the Winchester Diocese which are running pilot programmes to see how new ideas and ways of doing things can reach out to the people in our rural communities, particularly in the “missing generations” under 35 years old.

The vision for the pilot programmes is to:

• grow vibrant rural churches at the heart of their communities;

• reach children, youth and under 35s;

• engage in meaningful social action;

• work creatively with each other and with other partners across the benefice;

• grow the next generations of lay and ordained leaders;

• make a strong contribution to the life of the wider church.

This vision fits in with our own vision that we developed out of the Big Ask in 2016 and our logo “Sharing the love, grace and truth of Jesus Christ.”  One benefit of being a pilot programme is that we get some additional resources from the Diocese, allowing us to do things we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.  It also recognises that each church or parish is unique, but is part of the wider Benefice and the body of Christ and that we can achieve more working together than we can as individual churches.  This will involve embracing new ways of doing some things and some changes in our “culture” as a community, so the programme consists of a series of projects.

The aim of the programme is to explore and recommend how the ministry and mission of our rural parishes may be renewed and revitalised within a wider Benefice organisation.

The programme will initially run for three years with additional funding from the Diocese.  Results from the programme will be used to provide a report for other rural benefices across the Diocese and potentially nationally.


The “Big Ask” survey of members of the churches in the Pastrow Benefice in late 2016 identified areas where people wanted to see growth or change.  This resulted in the “rugby ball” diagram for the structure of the Benefice activities:

Some projects that could contribute to the programme have already been started and it is key that these are included and continued in serving ‘The Common Good’ of our communities.  These include the Benefice Prayer Group, Messy Church and the Pastoral Team.

There are also some projects already in progress in parishes which will continue outside of the programme, such as the re-ordering of St Michael’s and All Angels Weyhill and the changes in St Thomas’ Charlton, which are part of “business as usual” in the parishes and are run by the PCC.


The programme is being coordinated at the Benefice level as it affects all the Parishes and two groups have been established to manage the programme:

Steering Group

The Steering Group will provide strategic direction for the programme, providing assistance to project teams as necessary.  It will also be the focal point for any requests to the Diocese for outside resources required by the programme or individual projects.

Programme Group

The overall implementation of the programme will be coordinated by a Programme Group comprising Revd Alex Randle-Bissell, members of the Steering Group, project team leaders and key stakeholders.  It will monitor progress in each project area and recommend any changes that may be necessary.


There are seven initial projects which have been identified, although others may follow later.  These are:

Future Governance Organisation

This project will conduct a review of the minimum legal requirements to be carried out by PCCs and Church Wardens and propose and implement a future governance organisation structure to simplify decision making and the day today running of the Benefice and Parishes.

Identity / Publicity

This project will review the identity, logo, strap line etc. for the Benefice and consider how Benefice events and services can best be publicised.  This may be done in conjunction with external consultants funded by the Diocese

IT Infrastructure

On way to improve communications and administration is to implement an IT Infrastructure to support the whole Benefice for administration, recording decisions and storing data (in particular the implications of the new Data Protection Act).  The project will have to liaise with the Diocese, contractors and all the stakeholders in the Benefice.  One element of this infrastructure is a Management Suite called Church Desk which the Diocese has bought and is already being implemented.

Benefice Finance

This project will review how finances are managed across the Benefice and investigate whether they can be simplified or centralised to reduce the administrative burden on Treasurers and PCCs.  The project will have to liaise closely with the Future Governance Organisation Group.

Capturing the Story (Communications)

This project is focussed on recording the decisions and the process involved in making them for the reports on the programme.  It will also publicise events and information as identified by the Identity project.  A part time Communications Officer post is being created funded by the Diocese.

Missing Generations Engagement

This is probably the key project in the programme which will review current activities aimed at children, young people and adults in the Missing Generations and make recommendations as to how the churches can reach out to them to get them involved in activities.

The Well (Retreat Centre)

This project is to create and run a Retreat Centre at Tangley Church, which will involve installing a toilet and small kitchen facility in the church and work in the outside area to provide more accommodation space on a temporary basis as required.

Further details on the programme and projects can be obtained from the Pastrow Family Administrator:  admin@pastrowbenefice.org.uk