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Resources for Rural Places of Worship

A comprehensive guidance & information hub for anything to do with rural places of worship

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Rural church buildings are a major concern, but how can your building be a blessing rather than a burden? How can you maximise its potential as a tool for mission and stop seeing it as a money-pit? This free ARC resource provides you wth a wealth of ideas about the creative use of church buildings.

The resource includes information, advice, case studies and other material from various denominations. There is information about maintaining and adapting buildings, balancing conservation with mission and creating a sustainable future for your place of worship.

Below you can find the link to any particular resource that interests you. Alternatively, you can download the full resource(Please note that this is not updated as regularly as the web pages); the index of links within this resource; or the Top Tips

In addition, plenty of other relevant material from the ARC is available:

All items related to Church Buildings

All items related to Visitors and tourism

This resource was prepared for the Arthur Rank Centre by Becky Payne.

N.B. For the sake of brevity, use of the word church or church building is intended to include all places of worship

Before you use the materials below, we strongly recommend reading the introduction Why Our Church Buildings Matter written specially for this resource byNigel Walter. This helps to set all the material in the context of the ultimate purpose for rural places of worship.

You may also find helpful the reflections of Helen McGowan, Project Officer for English Heritage's Divine Inspiration project. She talks of the value (and difficulties) of encouraging & enabling local parishes to spread their wings in the use of their church buildings. (All the Divine Inspiration case studies can be downloaded in a zip file at the foot of this page.)

If you have any feedback, problems or contributions (especially if these include digital photos!) please contact us at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


INTRODUCTION: "Caring for and Developing Your Building" and "Why Our Church Buildings Matter"

  1. Listed Places of Worship and Statements of Need and Significance
  2. Ecclesiastical Exemption 
  3. Non Exempted Denominations
  4. Looking after your building
    4.1 Maintenance
    4.2 Repairs to building’s fabric
         4.2.1 Chancel Repair Liability (Church of England only)
    4.3 Appointing an architect or surveyor
         4.3.1 Procurement Guidelines for the recruitment of professionals
         4.3.2 Registers of accredited professionals
         4.3.3 Insurance for Building Works
    4.4 Internal fixtures and fittings
    4.5 Archaeology
    4.6 Churchyards
  5. Funding
    5.1 VAT
    5.2 Guidance on approach to fund-raising
    5.3 Applying for grants
    5.4 Funding Directories
    5.5 Funding sources
    5.6 Funding for internal fixtures and fittings
    5.7 Setting up a Friends Group
    5.8 Funding for community projects
    5.9 Gift Aid
    5.10 Loans
    5.11 Ride and Stride
  6. Other Building Issues
    6.1 Security
    6.2 Metal Theft
    6.3 Bats
    6.4 Insurance
    6.5 Other Regulations
          6.5.1 (a) Asbestos
          6.5.2 (b) Electrical Inspections and Testing
          6.5.3 (c) Fire safety
          6.5.4 (d) Health and Safety
          6.5.5 (e) Health and Safety Risk Assessments
          6.5.6 (f) Working at Height
  7. Getting the most out of your buildings
    7.1 Getting Started
         7.1.1 Setting up a Friends Group
         7.1.2 Creating a website
    7.2 Developing Options
    7.3 Community Led Planning
    7.4 The Localism Act
    7.5 Ownership
    7.6 Developing a Project
         7.6.1 Support from faith-based organisations and heritage bodies
         7.6.2 Support from the Community and Voluntary Sector
         7.6.3 Guidance on specific uses
    - Multi-purpose community buildings
    - Cafes
    - Community Shops
    - Post Offices
    - Farmers’ Markets
    - Citizen Advice Bureaux
    - Affordable Housing and other land based initiatives
    - Imaginative uses
    7.7 Making Changes to your Building
    - For Liturgical Reasons
    - To provide community space within your building
    - Seating
    - Extensions
    7.8 Governance
    7.9 Tax and Trading
    7.10 Sharing Use of Your Building
    - Hiring out and leasing  of your building
    - The 2003 Licensing Act
    7.11 Sustaining your Project for the Future
  8. Opening up your Place of Worship
    8.1 Tourism
    - Promoting your church
    - What are your visitors going to find?
    - Telling your visitors about your building and what happens inside it.
    - Festivals, Events and Trails
    - The use of technology in engaging visitors
    8.2 Education
  9. Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
  10. Commissioning New Works of Art
  11. Other Resources

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