Comments: new CofE Church Growth Research website

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 at 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 at Friday, 5 October 2012 at 11:14pm BST
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