Discerning vision and priorities

Having an external facilitator to lead a parish away day or morning can be helpful for a church in discerning its vision and mission priorities. You will get more from this time if you have engaged with the listening and reflecting process outlined on the Listen and reflect web page. Below is some guidance about what you might hope to achieve.

Three- to five-year vision

Agreeing together what God is calling your church to do and become in the next three to five years. This vision will be specific to your church and mission context, and will express what you will be focusing on in the next stage of your journey together.

Core purpose

 This is what some churches call their mission statement, and usually captures something common to all churches, for example: “We are here to know Christ and make him known.” It can be important to differentiate this from your vision statement.


Some churches find it helpful to articulate their underpinning values as part of the MAP process.

Mission priorities 

Discerning your three mission priorities means identifying three areas of strategic mission focus that will lead to actions that people are willing and able to do. MAP is not about naming aspirations that are unlikely to be realised, nor coming up with a list of extra tasks for the vicar to do on behalf of everyone else. MAP is about discerning the journey that the congregation is being called on to undertake together, one that is both visionary and inspiring but also starts from what people feel able to offer practically and sustainably. Your priorities may well build on what you are currently doing, and may focus on making these more fruitful and effective.


Action goals

 The next step is to identify the concrete actions that will come out of your agreed mission priorities. There will normally be a number of actions for each priority and these need to be owned by one or two people, who will undertake to plan them in detail and coordinate others’ actions.

This template for a three- to five-year vision captures the above process and provides an overview of what you might achieve with your facilitator.

This template for a one- to two-year SMART plan should be filled in after the vision day. Each action goal will need its own one-page template, to be filled in by the person(s) overseeing that goal. See below for more detail.


You should be able to summarise your MAP on one side of A4 so that everyone can quickly grasp the essentials. You could also create a form with various options for getting involved and ask people to fill it in. You can communicate during Sunday services, on display boards at the back of church, and on postcards for everyone to take home and use for prayer. Your vision and mission priorities can also be worded in a way that communicates with people not in your church, on parish noticeboards and websites.

Planning for action

  • Produce an action plan for one to two years. It isn’t practical to do detailed planning beyond this.
  • One or two lead persons should plan, recruit and coordinate a small team to achieve each action goal (the incumbent should not be the default person).
  • Each action goal needs to be planned in a way that is SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, resourced and time-bound. You can use this SMART template to describe what you hope to achieve, as well as outlining the sequence of actions, the resources that will be required and who will be taking the lead.
  • Arrange for the PCC to agree the MAP, including the SMART action plans. Agree on the timelines and individual action plans.
  • Plan to communicate regular updates on progress/problems to the PCC and wider church.
  • Plan when you will review and update your MAP. Doing this annually in time for the AGM can be a useful way of fitting MAP into the yearly parish cycle.


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