Thrive: Helping Your Multi-Parish Benefice to Grow, by Pam Macnaughton

Having recently become a vicar in a multi-parish context, I was quite excited by the launch of this book (published in partnership with CPAS). But the key thing to know about the book is that it is part of a wider set of resources.

The primary resource in the Thrive collection, it seems, is the course. (There is also a prayer guide and a set of PCC sessions.) Pam Macnaughton developed these resources by working for several years with groups of clergy and lay people from multi-parish benefices. The course appears to be designed to enable other groups to benefit in a similar way.

Six areas are covered in the Thrive book and course:

  1. Prayer
  2. The stories of our churches
  3. Developing leaders
  4. Growing disciples
  5. Sharing faith
  6. Vision for the future

The book makes it clear that multi-parish groups of churches would benefit enormously by working through these areas together.

I don’t think I had realised that the book was basically a companion to the course. So I was somewhat disappointed, as I had been hoping to benefit more immediately by reading the book. The book seems to be a great thing to read if you are doing the course, but less worthwhile otherwise. Apart from the introduction, the chapters on the stories of our churches, and the second of two chapters on vision, the rest of the book has very little that is specific to a multi-parish context. Just a few sentences would need changing in those chapters if the book was going to be re-purposed for a single-parish context. Now, there is much of value in those chapters, without a doubt (even if the style of writing is a little unstructured). But there is not much that is particularly revolutionary, especially if you are already familiar with the excellent leadership resources that come out of CPAS.

My hunch is that the course wouldn’t be the right thing to run in the first year or two of a new vicar’s ministry in a multi-parish context. So I’ll be leaving it on the back burner for now. But I might well return to it in the future.

(Next up: Multi-Congregation Ministry: Theology and Practice in a Changing Church, by Malcolm Grundy.)