Thursday, 4 October 2012

new CofE Church Growth Research website

A new Church of England Church Growth Research Programme website has been launched with this press release.

Church Growth Research website launched to help explore the drivers of church growth within the Church of England
02 October 2012

All are invited to visit and interact with a new website built to support the work of the Church Growth Research Programme - the national 18-month academic research project exploring the factors related to spiritual and in particular numerical church growth of the Church of England. The research is being funded through funding set aside by the Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council for research and development. This project is being undertaken in partnership with the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex; Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham and the Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology, Ripon College, Cuddesdon.

continued below the fold.

The website includes a number of discussion forums that visitors can join and contribute to.

The research teams for this project were announced in June.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, explains the reasons behind the project in a video on the website; the Bishop says: “There are many communities and parishes that are growing and we want to identify the levers and drives of this growth. We want to do that not just out of a spirit of pure research, but to help those involved in leadership in parishes and communities to see how resources can be used most effectively.”

By visiting, users can engage with the Programme in a number of ways. A section of the site summarises existing literature on church growth and invites readers to suggest additions to this growing collection of research. There is a page that details case studies of growing churches in a number of different contexts across the Church of England, which will continue to be expanded during the course of the project.

Visitors to the website are invited to get involved with the debate on church growth by signing up to the discussions forum. Through the forum, contributions can be made to the project by sharing views and experiences of church growth. Discussions include: What is church growth and how do you measure it?; Fresh Expressions & church planting; Theology of church growth and personal experiences of church growth or decline.

In addition, the programme aims to engage further and converse with those on Twitter via @ChurchGrowthRD.

As this information accumulates online, the Programme will survey 4,000 Church of England churches, inviting them to feedback on their experiences of church growth and decline, and describe their current parish and its ministry in more detail.

The project will be completed by the autumn of 2013, with the findings being disseminated widely, although it will be possible to follow the progress of the project through the website.


A jpeg of the website’s homepage is available to download here.

Organisations have been appointed through a competitive tendering process which attracted a good number of high quality proposals.

A team from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, led by Professor David Voas, has been appointed to undertake the data analysis and church profiling strands of the research. A third strand of work involves a study of factors relating to growth at cathedrals, fresh expressions and the impact of unions of parishes and the use of different patterns of deployment of ministers, and will be undertaken by a team at Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham. A forth strand, to be undertaken by the Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology (OxCEPT) at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, will investigate church planting through undertaking a number of in-depth case studies of a wide range of church plants. For more details, click here.

To watch the Bishop of London’s video, click here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 4 October 2012 at 10:32am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

From the Invitation to Tender: 'However, the main focus of this research is nonetheless on numerical growth, not simply because it is (in theory) easier to measure, but because this is always a priority of the Church.'

Really? Now let's see.

'They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.' (Acts 2:46,47)

'and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.' (Acts 6:4).

The Church priorities appear to be working to spreading the good news of the risen and returning Messiah by preaching and informal interaction and conversation with everyone in the community. The leaders encouraged community among the converts with a love for generous mutual hospitality, care for victims of misfortune, perpetual praise, while building fearless enterprising leadership in the face of reaction and reprisals and developing reciprocal good relations in the wider community.

There. I could have saved the church a bundle, unless they still want the researchers to explain why love for God, hatred of injustice and practical outgoing generosity works.

This profiling of numerical growth factors is NOT 'always a priority for the Church'. It's a priority for churchmanship in decline.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 5 October 2012 at 8:38am BST

Growing into our calling is arguably another strand of church growth, alongside numbers. Of course the Christian prays for the grace and love of God to be encountered by many people. Judges 7 may suggest that numerical growth is not always the strategy used by God.

Nevertheless, it is good to pray for many people to come to know God, and also to grow in that grace.

It is not simply about the numbers coming to church, or the numbers having a 'born again' experience. It is about growing in God's grace.

Numbers alone becomes a kind of business strategy, a kind of measurement tool, for a management-style church.

The calling of the Christian is to grow in a life of grace, whether numbers increase or not.

Sometimes the crowds gather around, looking for signs, sometimes the preachers are like sounding gongs, sometimes - in the silent prayer of the night - although 'the word of the Lord was rare in those days' - God is there and God is calling.

I think it's more complex than simply measurement by numbers.

Crowds may be drawn to superficial preachers. People may look for simplistic certainties.

But the practicality of living out life in a way that grows in grace - beyond the first passionate intensity - is arguably a clearer measurement of God at work in the hearts of God's people.

Posted by: Susannah on Friday, 5 October 2012 at 11:14pm BST
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