Mission Criteria for Southern Synod churches

 These criteria have been agreed by Synod to support churches in discerning their future.

They are for consideration by churches when defining their own mission, and will be of particular use when churches are in or heading for a Ministerial vacancy in order to identify what their future leadership and vision might be.   Beneath each criterion are illustrative factors that will be considered by those making scoping decisions in assessing a Local Church’s commitment to achieving those Mission Criteria.

NOTE – These factors are not an absolute test, and they will evolve and develop with experience in practice.

Download these Mission Criteria – to use as a word document in your church.

Photo Mission by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Pix4free
Local Church Mission Criteria  Ilustrative examples


This church is outward looking and is actively seeking to reach new people for Jesus Christ List examples and activities of this type undertaken, with percentage of membership attending them, whether directly involved in evangelism or simply aimed at building relationships.
2. This church is committed to encouraging and enabling people to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ List examples and activities of this type undertaken, with percentage of membership involved in them. Where members of the congregation have been        accepted into authorised URC ministries (or other recognised ministries) in the last ten years, please give details.



This church is committed to caring for people of all ages both inside and outside its own community List examples and activities of this type undertaken, with indication of age groups to which any such activities are directed. List also percentage of membership taking part in these activities.


This church provides relevant, inspiring and engaging worship which is accessible to all people including those new to church life Please indicate how this is being addressed, and the steps taken to help your worship be accessible to people new to church life. Information about Youth Work and Children’s ministry will be helpful too.


This church is committed to serving its local community through a variety of programmes and activities As well as listing examples and activities of this type undertaken, with percentage of membership involved in them, it would be helpful to see what efforts have been made to assess whether there are parts of the community locally which no local church is serving.


This church is committed to resourcing its life and mission through its personnel, finances and buildings Numbers of members[1] in the local church and the pastorate[2]

Changes in membership[3] – new members in last 5 years and average number of hatches/ matches/ dispatches in a year.

Number of people regularly attending worship on Sundays[4].

Age ranges of membership (please provide an analysis).

Information to help make an assessment of whether there are other trained clergy resources available in the community able and willing to assist the work of the local church.

Information to help the financial viability of the local church or pastorate to support the mission and ministry this year and for the foreseeable future (say 3 to 5 years) including information about the M&M contribution

An assessment of whether the local church has been able to maintain adequate and appropriate buildings and facilities which comply with present legislation and where applicable are available for a diverse set of uses and a range of users (please give examples). It would also be helpful to indicate whether the premises are attractive to newcomers, or not.



This church is committed to the wider church of God through the United Reformed Church nationally, ecumenical relationships and the world church Give details of the ecumenical relationships which already exist, and of where the local church is actively involved in seeking to work through ecumenical partnerships. Other examples may include service, attendance and/or participation and financial commitment aspects if not covered elsewhere. An assessment of the potential that exists for creating and/or developing such relationships would also be helpful, where this is appropriate.  It will also be helpful to understand the type and number of other churches serving the same community.


This church is committed to addressing issues of justice, peace and the environment Give examples, where the local church is responding positively to such issues.


This church is committed to regularly reviewing its life and mission in light of the above criteria always seeking the prompting and guidance of the Holy Spirit Describe current and recent mission initiatives and in doing so highlight the main innovations in the congregation’s work over the last five years and any plans for the immediate future. Provide information to show how the local church’s mission purposes are targeted appropriately, along with an explanation of how the local church seeks new opportunities for mission, through regular re-evaluation of priorities. Information showing that the local church and the pastorate is alert to what others are doing, and is adopting best practice and apply their experience will also be helpful.

As well as reviewing its priorities regularly and planning effectively, it will be helpful to explain how the local church and the pastorate is organised to ensure its mission priorities lead to action (hence please explain the regular internal arrangements which ensure the ongoing activities of the local church implement the agreed priorities, which themselves reflect the agreed mission purposes).

Those conducting the scoping review will of course also want to know of any special pastoral considerations relating to the local church and the pastorate which ought to be taken into account in the scoping assessment

[1] There is no absolute number of members in a pastorate that will trigger a scoping, because of the importance of the Mission criteria.  But it would be mistaken to say that numbers are completely irrelevant.

[2] It is worth noting that if one divides the number of stipends available into the numbers of members in the Synod, individual Ministers would be serving an average pastorate size of around 160 to 180 members, although there can be special considerations, such as rural and inner city factors, that must also be taken into account.

[3] For most local churches membership provides the best indication of those who are regularly committed to supporting the church (rather than membership plus those more loosely associated). However, if your local church holds the view that some other measure as well as membership should be considered, please include it as well.

[4] Where this figure is significantly different from the number of members, it may be helpful to add comment if the reasons are known.


Page last updated 7th April 2023