Know your place
The Kingdom People vision speaks of healthy churches and their members being "ready to engage with and serve [their] community".
As Christians we want to obey the scriptural command singled out by Jesus as one of the two great commandments – "Love your neighbour as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31).
An important first step to doing this is getting to know who we can be a neighbour to. What are the needs and opportunities in the wider community. It may sound strange to say so, but by helping to build a profile of the community, Government statistics can be an excellent tool for mission.
The Government collects a wide range of statistics, especially through the census, but also through its various departments.
A significant amount of this data has been analysed for your parish by the Church of England's Research and Statistics Department. They have produced a package based primarily on the 2011 census data for your parish – Parish Spotlight.
Your incumbent, or PCC secretary should have been emailed a copy of this information for your parish. If you want to do additional research of your own, then some material is collated on the West Midlands pages of the Office of National Statistics, or you can dig down into the statistics you want to find via the Neighbourhood Statistics page.
Using Neighbourhood Statistics
On the Neighbourhood Statistics page you have a choice under step 2. You can select local council wards if these do correspond to your parish boundaries.
However, very often they won't, in which case you need to select the Lower Layer Super Output Area (LSOA). Then download and use this PDF file, Mapping LSOA to Parishes. This lists the ratio of the population of the LSOA that are within the parish boundary.
Get the figures for the LSOAs in your parish for the information you are researching (e.g. numbers of people aged over 65). Then for each of the LSOAs which overlap your parish, take the LSOA figure and multiply it by the ratio given in the final column of the PDF.
When you have done this for each LSOA, add the figures together and you will have the best approximation available for your parish figures. (In the example used above, the numbers of people aged over 65 in the parish.)
Whether you have simply looked at your Parish Spotlight, or done some of your own detailed research, or want to start elsewhere, the important thing to do is identify a need in your community which you can meet, or help meet in partnership with others.
We have two resources to help you do this.
- Church and Community: knowing your place
Some pages on this site setting out simple ways of developing knowledge of your parish.
- Mapping the Parish
A PDF showing how LSOAs relate to parish boundaries.
Only you can take the decisions about what you can respond to, although you may well want to ask for someone to help facilitate your conversation.
Equally, you may identify an issue or need which you do want to address, but will need to ask for some training and support to respond to properly.
Wherever possible, diocesan staff will want to support you in developing your plan to respond to community need, and find practical ways of loving your neighbour.