With the huge emphasis on mission in the Church of England, and all sorts of courses on offer from different traditions, it’s often forgotten that churches and parishes need to prepare for mission.  There is much to be done, and few resources to do it.

We deacons are in pole position to enable appropriate, gospel-centred outreach to happen in our parishes.  We’re the ones creating bridges and stepping stones between the worshipping community and the neighbourhood, and our diaconal ministry means we are involved in our communities in all sorts of ways.

So here’s a course to help, designed especially for deacons (although it can be used by other ministries too).  It is very adaptable. Please let me know how you use it, and what suggestions you might have for improving it.  It has been developed with the educators of the South-West Ministry Training Course (SWMTC).

Here’s the introduction:  follow the link for the whole course.  It’s also available as a Word document and can be printed as a booklet.



Diocese of Exeter

Pray      Grow     Serve with joy




In the Bishop’s charge to us at our ordination we ‘are ordained so that the people of God may be better equipped to make Christ known’, to be ‘heralds of Christ’s kingdom’, and ‘to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, as agents of God’s purposes of love’.  This is our primary calling, to be the person on the boundary, connecting the church with the world and the world with the Christian faith.  We do this in all sorts of ways, developing projects and taking risks with new ideas as we encourage our church congregations to share God’s love with others, and serve the lostness of the world.  We search out need, ‘reaching into the forgotten corners of the world’, and work with others to find ways of meeting those needs.  We ‘accompany those searching for faith’, sharing with them the water of life that is Christ.  In these and many other ways we ‘serve the community in which we are set’.

We do not do this alone.  A deacon works collaboratively, with other ministers and the people of God, with allies and people of good will, living out the Gospel imperative to serve the needs of others with practical help and the good news of Christ.  So where to start?  How can we find good ways of identifying and meeting the needs of our parish communities?

There are many excellent resources for churches to use, but sometimes we find our efforts in community outreach (mission) or evangelism seem to ‘slide off’ our community as if it was Teflon-coated!  Why should this be?

There will be a range of reasons, but sometimes it is because we have not understood the culture – or cultures – of our parishes.  We haven’t fully taken on board how people who don’t come to church actually think and feel, or what is important to them. We may not have listened enough.   If we don’t understand our people, if we don’t know their concerns, if we can’t ‘speak their language’, then sometimes what we do in mission and outreach Is seen by them to be irrelevant to their felt needs.

This is not a mistake Christ made.  He was incarnate in our life and culture.  He lived for 30 years in his community, speaking their language, sharing their concerns, building relationships, learning to understand human nature, long before he started any public ministry.  He calls us to follow his example by incarnating our own diaconal calling to listen as he listened, and to meet people where they are, not where we would like them to be.

It’s our hope and prayer that this ‘Tool Kit’ will help Deacons and others to find ways forward in thinking about mission in the parish.  It can be used as it stands, or adapted to your own context, or act as a springboard for other approaches.  It could follow an Alpha or Pilgrim course.   It can be used by individual deacons for their own reflection, and with parish groups to help them engage more fully with the material and spiritual needs of their communities.



Jobs for deacons in the C of E are so few and far between they are like hen’s  teeth. 

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However, there are two part-time vacancies in the Diocese of Exeter available now, which would welcome a deacon.  They are for Mission and Ministry Development Advisors:

The Revd Jon Marlow, Mission and Ministry Development Team Leader, writes:

If you do come across colleagues who might be interested in applying then please do encourage them to have a chat with me. We’re looking for a range of people across the four archdeaconries, so it would be great to have a deacon in the mix.

Best wishes,


He also thanks me for my ‘really useful’ course ‘Preparing for Mission’, created with deacons in mind and on this blog:

It would be wonderful to see a deacon in this sort of post.  Might that be you?

(image from Malaphors)


Andy Farmer (second from left, back row) is to be ordained this September.  Here he sets out his vision for being a deacon in the workplace.

You can read more about Andy’s understanding of the diaconate as a model for servant leadership here:


It’s a joy to announce the launch of the Diocese of Exeter’s Deacons’ Tool Kit, a new and growing collection of resources by deacon practitioners on key aspects of diaconal ministry.


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So far, the Tool Kit offers:

  1. Andy Farmer’s Deacon in the Workplace (Andy is a diaconal ordinand, to be ordained this year);
  2. Deacon Jess Foster’s Deacon in an Interfaith Context;
  3. Deacon Terry Drummond’s Deacon in the Public Square;
  4. the Potted History of the Diaconate which is already one of this blog’s Pages;  and
  5. Deacon Gill Kimber’s four-session parish mission preparation course, Preparing for Mission.

All resources are downloadable, and the Preparing for Mission course can be adapted to different contexts.

Other resources are on the way and will be added  from time to time.

Do take a look:

If you’re a deacon with experience in a particular sector of diaconal ministry and you’d like to contribute, please get in touch with me either through the Comments or at

The Tool Kit is also available on this blog on one of the Pages (see right-hand tabs)