Transforming Wigan

About The Diocese > What We Do > Transforming Wigan

Transforming Wigan is avowedly not about a single new initiative which will sit apart from existing structures. It is about the re-imagination and re-invention of our core stipendiary resource initially in Wigan and then across the wider diocese

To obtain Church Commissioners' Funding we put together a bid document. Here we extract the summary - you can download the full document below.

The Diocese of Liverpool is currently one of only 3 dioceses in the country which has seen an improvement in both mission and financial strength over the past 5 years. This is important to us.

Transforming Wigan is a 7-year £1.2 million programme which aims to build on this to achieve two broad outcomes:
  1. To turn around the mission and financial strength in the strategically most vulnerable part of our diocese, enabling it to become a missional powerhouse. 
  2. To transfer the learning and good practice to other parts of the diocese (and beyond) so that we can continue to build on strength and mitigate weakness.
This will be done through a number of separate but complimentary interventions both to tackle some of the obstacles to growth (such as the core challenges of ageing money, unsustainable leadership patterns and broken buildings) and set a clear investment framework for the future (missional leaders communities, re-worked and re-vitalised missional units, accountability structures based on key moments of intervention). It will be grounded in the lessons of From Anecdote to Evidence and based on a comprehensive programme of change management so as to:
  • Reduce the average age of those attending and engaging with church
  • Increase the giving base (in numbers and average giving) to underpin future sustainability and development
  • Broaden the leadership base to allow for a flourishing of vocations and the emergence of multiple missional leaders communities
  • Deal with the ‘buildings issue’, namely a current understanding of church which is overly reliant on expensive buildings which are unfit for 21st century mission and ministry
  • Configure the deanery around healthy and viable missional units fit for future purpose and each of which reflects a clear mixed economy of church
Transforming Wigan is avowedly not about a single new initiative which will sit apart from existing structures. Instead it is recognising that as a diocese we have invested and will continue to invest heavily in stipendiary leadership which will remain a core resource and our single greatest area of expenditure for the foreseeable future.

This project is about the re-imagination and re-invention of this core resource initially in Wigan and then across the wider diocese. As such it is directly and intentionally designed to improve the mission and financial strength of the diocese.  
The Transforming Wigan Challenge
It is clear to all involved in the shaping of the Transforming Wigan project that church as has been in Wigan will not be sustainable. The congregational demographic is skewed; buildings are a problem; growth is at best patchy. It is also clear that it won’t simply be a pattern of gentle decline; in 10 years’ time numbers and money will fall off a cliff.

That said there remains a richness and vibrancy about the local and church communities of Wigan. There is a pride and generosity of spirit among the congregations that continues to manifest itself in giving of time, talents and treasure – a testimony to the faithfulness of generations of Christians.

The key will be to unlock this latent spirit where it isn’t sufficiently strong, give greater licence to those where there is vision and desire and to set a new tone and a new missional ambition.
The First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, visited Wigan following the Church Commissioners' £900,000 investment. This is what he saw:

This project is about the re-imagination and re-invention of this core resource initially in Wigan and then across the wider diocese.

What We Do

Find out more

Visit the Transforming Wigan Website

Contact the office

Revd Tim Montgomery
Director Transforming Wigan

Mission Office, 
Wigan Investment Centre, 
01942 705260
Weekdays 9 - 5

Read our bid document

You can read all about the Transforming Wigan project in the bid document to the Church Commissioners.

About Wigan Deanery

Wigan Deanery is the largest deanery in the diocese with a population of 186,200, 12% of the diocesan population, spread across 30 parishes. It is demographically mixed with the most deprived parish being in the upper 1% of the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), 60% of parishes in the upper 20% IMD, 90% in the upper half of IMD and the deanery average being in the upper third IMD. All of this makes Wigan a mid-range deanery within the wider context of our diocese. 

The clear strength and focus has been in the inherited church. There is a rich ecclesial mix and a healthy number of children’s and youth activities, after school clubs, older person's lunch clubs and other community engagements.

There are 22 church primary schools in the deanery (19 aided and 3 controlled) with a pupil population of 4,850. There is 1 secondary school with a student population of 1,300. Church schools have been central to mission in the deanery.

Since 2006 the deanery has been reducing its stipendiary clergy in line with diocesan targets from 23 to 19 incumbents. 
There are 33 church buildings amid a recognition that the deanery is fundamentally over-churched. Too many are in a substandard condition. There is much less consensus about which buildings are superfluous.

Transforming Wigan aims to take all of the above resources and re-work and re-imagine them for the 21st century. We will stick closely to the framework established in From Anecdote to Evidence.