Step 1 - Create a Mission Plan - Partnerships


The Methodist Church will continue to embrace partnership working, in recognition that there will be times when Our Calling will be advanced by working in collaboration with others.

The Connexional Team will support Circuits and Districts to explore potential partners who align their objectives with Our Calling. Partners may have Methodist roots, but this is not essential. They could be ecumenical partners, third sector bodies focusing on community engagement, Christian charities focusing on helping the Church engage with society or specialist charities such as Methodist Homes (MHA) or Action for Children. The types of projects may include, but are not limited to:

  • partnering in redevelopment for social purposes
  • imaginative experiment and ecumenical co-operation 
  • sharing a building for other social mission
  • sharing a building for worship
  • partnering in redevelopment for commercial purposes.

There may be like-minded groups locally who would benefit from partnering with you. Consider whether there are ecumenical partners who might be interested in sharing the use and upkeep of your building with you.  Perhaps they don't have a building, or their building is in a less suitable location than yours. Discuss their dreams and visions and see how they might chime with yours. Pooling resources and committed people might make it possible to use your building for mission in ways you might not immediately consider as well lowering the administration burden.

Perhaps there are local charities or community groups who need a space from which to operate, and who share your values and aspirations for your community. If they could provide some of the community networks and expertise it could really make a difference. Rather than simply hiring out space for them to use, consider how you might work together and how this would enable you to deliver the mission of the church set out in your Mission Plan.  One excellent example is St Martin's Church in Derby. 

  • How could your church take an interest in and support their work?
  • How could their work enrich the life of your church? 

There could be local businesses or social enterprises who would be interested in working with you for your mutual benefit. For example, some churches have formed partnerships with building companies and housing associations who are looking for development sites for such uses as affordable or specialist housing. They can provide new church premises and community hubs alongside or as part of this development to the benefit of the church.  It may be that there is a business or organisation whose 'mission' fits well with yours, even if they do not profess overtly Christian values.

There may be a local entrepreneur who would love to open a café on your premises, giving you the connections with your community and sparing you the difficulty of running a business.  The Plunkett Foundation also supports rural communities through community-ownership to take control of the issues affecting them. They support rural communities looking to set up and run community owned shops;  help rural communities to set up a wide range of community-owned enterprises, social enterprises and co-operatives to provide vital rural services; enable community food and farming enterprises to set up and run successfully. 

Partnerships are not to be entered into lightly. True partnerships can be time consuming and unless there is an early agreement on common purpose, they can be fraught with difficulties that can endanger any or all of the partners.  Discussions should be held with such potential partners so that a broad framework for co-operative working can be agreed. This could then be used by Districts, Circuits and local Churches in a proactive way, remembering that good ideas may come from our partners rather than us. The key to enabling the best partnership opportunities will be the strength of mission and property plans which will guide the location, type and size of property required to fulfil Our Calling. Probity in procurement is important. In all cases, proper procurement rules should be applied.  For further legal considerations, please refer to Step 2 - Do Your Research - Partnerships.  

When selecting a partner, it is important to establish the following:

  • Who will be responsible for what – in terms of costs and human resource.
  • What your requirements are – Partnerships will work best when it is clear what you expect to gain from the partnership, with detail especially important if a new building is to be constructed.
  • What timescales are being proposed – Gauge how long a partner believes a project will take to help plan for any interim arrangements you may need to make.
  • Planning Feasibility – Check local planning information to see if there are any policies that apply to your location and project.
  • Relative benefit of proposed partnership deals – Consult a professional adviser to help weigh up relative benefit of different partnership offers as different offers may be structured in different ways.

Empowering Design Practices is a five-year collaborative research project exploring how community-led design can help empower those who look after historic places of worship to create more open, vibrant and sustainable places that respect and enhance their heritage.

You can also use these Resource Booklets to learn more about the following topics:

  1. Transforming Historic Places of Worship Through Community Engagement
  2. Tips for Your Community Engagement Strategy
  3. Making Community Engagement Count
  4. Testing Ideas for Your Community Building

Click here to return back to Step 1 - Create a Mission Plan