David Tomlinson in Shildon Town Centre. (Picture: Keith Blundy)

The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham has appointed a new Senior Resourcing Church Leader to spearhead the development of a network of Resourcing Churches, which are key to growth in the Diocese of Durham.

The role sees The Revd Canon David Tomlinson, currently Vicar of Shildon and Area Dean of Auckland, seconded to the new role 2.5 days per week until the end of 2018. During his secondment, he will lead the Diocese’s bid for funding of a multi-million-pound proposal as part of the Church of England’s Strategic Development Funding (SDF) designed to deliver church numeric growth across the diocese.

The role which reports directly to the Bishop requires the development of a range of strategic plans designed to grow up to ten resourcing churches which in turn will grow and plant other churches leading to church growth across the diocese.

David Tomlinson said: “I am thrilled and excited to be involved and I am very much up for the challenge it represents. This is a bold move that will see us build on the work undertaken in our earlier SDF funding [£800,000] from the CofE. That work has started to bear fruit as it has enabled the Diocese as a whole to imagine new ways of being church and equipping our clergy and their teams to be growth and mission focused.

“This next stage of development funding will allow us to be radical in our approach to Church growth, challenging the status quo and stepping outside of the norm in the Anglican Church of having a survival mentality. This work will involve creating Resourcing churches that are then further planted, growing church and transforming society.

Resourcing churches are established to be a powerhouse of church growth and development. They have an agenda that looks to the wider community rather than looking inwards and have a proven track record across the country of reinvigorating churches and driving community engagement.

“In order to do this we need to create ‘Mission Energy’ and I liken this to the analogy of dropping a mint into a bottle of fizzy drink – and the explosion of energy that we are all too familiar with. That is what we hope to achieve,  we will introduce a range of external stimuli into our mix and in doing so gain an explosion of growth and a permanent change in our way of being Church.

Bishop Paul said: “David brings a fantastic range of skills to this role that have been used widely in the development and growth of his ministry in Shildon. His energies in preparing and managing large-scale-bids which have resulted in significant funding and then the delivery of sustainable change makes him the obvious choice for this role. The resourcing and planting of churches is key to our growth in the Diocese of Durham over the coming years and something we must get right.”

During his secondment, some of David’s current duties will be shared with Revd Peter Robson who will be coming into the parish in a House for Duty capacity for 2.5 days per week and his Area Dean duties will be taken up by The Revd Matt Tarling from St Paul’s Spennymoor for the duration of the secondment.

The bid has two stages with the initial proposal being submitted in April 2018, that being successful would see a second stage detailed proposal being submitted in November 2018 and the start of the work would be January 2019.