How to Make a Good Start

On this page we share some hints and advice to help you to make a good start on your project planning.

Develop your vision

“The first stage of development and the key to good management is the church’s own vision for worship, mission and ministry. Only as we gather who we are, how we see and worship God, how we relate to our neighbours and how we seek to reach out in God’s name will we know how to interpret the most contemporary of faith journeys into our buildings that have reflected and interpreted the faith of the generations of Christians who stewarded and handed on this gift – or this monster – to us.” (Maggie Durran, Making Church Buildings Work)

A common feature of successful development projects is the careful attention given to the very early stages of preparation, including developing a parish vision and strategy, engaging with wider community interests, and thinking about functions that need to be supported and accommodated, before moving on to the more concrete stages of project design.

Before homing in on specifics - e.g., new kitchen or toilets - start by exploring ideas about how the church might function in future, who you want to reach and involve, then think about what facilities are needed to enable this to succeed.

Be prepared

Churches with draft budgeted repair or improvement plans are in a good position to respond quickly to new funding opportunities. The message here is clear and simple – 'be prepared!'

Inspired North East monitors charitable trusts and agencies that regularly or occasionally offer grant aid for repairs or developments relating to historic churches. We have been invited on several occasions to identify potential candidate churches for grant opportunities. Churches with up-to-date lists of repair needs and attendant cost estimates have been best placed to respond to such opportunities. Clearly it pays to be prepared with 'bottom drawer' schemes.

Since April 2010 Inspired North East has advised and supported over 200 churches across the North East, leading to over £2 million worth of grants offered towards repair, conservation, heritage activities and/or development of community facilities in our region. 

Use your architect

Your latest Quinquennial Report will provide you with a ready list of necessary repairs for which you request your architect or your local reputable builder to provide you with some general ‘ball-park’ estimates. These estimates do not need to be finely detailed as you will have to update them at the time when you are approached by a funding trust anyway.

Some architects already provide churches with a range of likely costs as part of the Quinquennial report which makes the whole process of managing repair needs with resources so much easier.

Read on: Planning a Re-ordering Project for some practical advice and links to useful resources and "essential reading" that will help you plan and make an effective case for your project.

Some grant-giving bodies can offer help towards the costs involved in carrying out feasibility tests and project options appraisals - see our funding advice page