Everything you need to know about parish returns for mission and finance
Why they matter
Every year your church is asked to complete returns about membership, attendance, church finances and energy footprint. It is not uncommon for me to hear churchwardens or treasurers say, ‘We send all this information, but what benefit do we receive?’
Below, we share how completing the Returns for Mission and Finance benefits every level of the life of the Church - local, deanery, diocese and national.
The mission and finance statistics paint a picture of our common life across the country and helps identify trends and spot mission opportunities. They make it possible to plan in terms of clergy deployment. The financial figures indicate the church’s finances at the grassroots.
One practical example is where this information has helped us lobby the government, but this is only possible if we have an accurate picture of the pressures at the local level. As a diocese, the returns from parishes are vital for planning for our shared mission and ministry and robust data is essential if our Bishop’s Council and deaneries are to make good decisions about how the church uses its resources.
The data gathered in the Energy Footprint Tool is used nationally to establish the Church's carbon baseline and monitor progress, locally it can be used so that you can track the impact of the steps you are taking to reduce your own church's emissions and at a diocesan level it helps us to:
- Spot churches which have issues with thier heating systems
- identify which churches would particularly benefi tfrom an energy audit
- Discover examples of good practice to share
Have you seen your benefice or parish dashboard? Every year, the national team take your data and produce these dashboards for mission and finance which are there to help you answer important questions about your parish or benefice: who lives here, who comes to church and who are we missing or not meeting?
The dashboard gives an important snapshot and so can inform your mission and outreach opportunities. This enables church growth.
Take a look at our analysis of Easter attendance figures. What might they be telling us which will be helpful as we plan for the future?
How to submit your Parish Return
Wherever possible, please complete your return online using the National Church’s Online Parish Returns System.
Where do I go for help if I’m stuck?
Please don’t give up! If you’re new to this, need login assistance or have general queries please contact the Diocesan Parish Returns Team either by email or call 01865 208 200. You might find our FAQs section helpful as a first port of call. A guide to your Parish Dashboard is also available.
If you encounter technical issues with the website you can also contact the National Church's Statistics Unit via email and they will be able to assist with these problems.
When is the information required?
Statistics for mission return
The 2021 Statistics for Mission Return online deadline was 20 March 2022.
We appreciate that for some of our smaller churches, it is easier to complete and submit a paper form. Paper copies should be returned to the Diocese, marked FAO the Department for Mission and Ministry, to our Church House Oxford address in Kidlington. Alternatively electronic copies can be sent to us via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parish finance return
The deadline for submitting your 2021 Parish Finance Return was 28 June 2022. You are now too late to submit the return online yourself, so please complete the blank pro forma below and send to email@example.com, where it will be entered on your behalf.
Energy footprint tool
The deadline for submitting your 2021 Energy Footprint Tool was 31 July 2022. You may still submit your data online and even though it will not be used in any national reporting this year, we can still use it as a diocese.
You can download the User Guide, which explains how to use the Online Parish Returns system. You may also find it helpful to complete either a PDF or Excel version of the Returns form before you enter the information online.
These forms are below and each form includes helpful notes which outline exactly what data is required.
- User guide (for the Church of England Online Parish Return System)
- 2021 Statistics for Mission (Word)
- 2021 Statistics for Mission (PDF)
- 2020 Statistics for Mission (Word)
- 2020 Statistics For Mission (PDF)
- 2021 Parish Finance Return (Excel)
- 2021 Parish Finance Return (PDF)
- 2020 Parish Finance Return (Excel)
- 2020 Parish Finance Return (PDF)
- 2021 Energy Footprint Tool (Word)
- Frequently Asked Questions (General)
- Frequently Asked Questions (Finance)