Simple and Flexible

The Festival Church Model is being widely adopted as a way of rejuvenating churches and parishes across the country. At its best, it has been shown to work as a "turnaround strategy" for rural parish churches. Established by the Church of England in 2015 the model is both simple and flexible and boils down to two fundamental changes in the way that the church operates:

  1. Worship - doing less, but doing it better: Festival Churches no longer hold regular formal worship services but instead concentrate on pooling their resources into fewer "festival" services that need the needs and rouse the interest of local people.
  2. Management - enabling more people to be involved: Festival Churches adapt their management structures to enable anyone with an interest in the building to take on an active role in its care and management, regardless of whether they are regular worshippers at the church or not.

There are many ways this model can be adapted to suit local resources and local needs and there are many examples around the country. Over the next few months we will be producing a range of case studies showing different ways a Festival Church can succeed as well as some tools to help your church transition to the Festival Church model.

Adopting Festival Church status is not a one-way street. The legal status of the church does not need to change - it can remain a parish church while operating on the Festival Church model. Therefore, in the future, should circumstances and needs change the way the church is run can revert to the traditional parish church model.

The impetus for becoming a Festival Church really needs to come from within the PCC and existing congregation. Your heart needs to be in it and therefore this is where the conversation starts. Further conversations should then be had with your Rural Dean and Archdeacon to bring your plans to their attention. Then, once the church itself agrees to adopt festival status, this is the time to hold a wider conversation and consultation with the local community. 


What can we do for you?

The Association of Festival Churches was formed in 2020 to promote and facilitate the Festival Church model. 

The Association is a Registered Charity (Charity No. 1191777) and is managed by a Board of Trustees comprising of individuals with experience and expertise in the management of church buildings, particularly in the context of rural ministry. The Chair is Sir Tony Baldry (former Chair of the Church Buildings Council and Second Church Estates Commissioner).

The Association has recently received support from the Church of England's Buildings for Mission Fund and the Benefact Trust. As a result the Association have been able to appoint Nigel Mills as their Festival Church Development Officer. Nigel was formerly Head of Church Support at the National Churches Trust.

Over the next three years the Association aims to develop the following:

  • A national strategic approach which will promote a clearer understanding of the Festival Church model with key indicators for operating as a sustainable Festival Church;
  • A range of easily accesible  resources and information that will support the implementation of the Festival Church model locally;
  • Working with key partners to deliver a range of training which will cover such topics as community consultation, identifying revenue streams, tourism and Church Building Maintenance Partnerships;

We will also provide ad hoc advice and support to churches, parishes and Diocese. So, if you have a question just fill in our online form drop Nigel an email and we will get back to you.

The Association of Festival Churches has been generously supported by the Church of England's Buildings for Mission Fund and the Benefact Trust

The website has been developed using information contained in the Guidance "Becoming a Festival Church". We are grateful to the Diocese of Ely and the Cambridge Judge Business School for their kind permission to use the information.


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