Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Is the Church of England finally getting serious about growth?

This advert has just gone up on the Church of England website

Researchers are being sought for an 18 month project which will aim to provide a comprehensive study of the causes of church growth.

The research programme from the Church of England being advertised this week contains three main strands:

Extensive analysis of existing data to test hypotheses around factors relating to church growth.

In depth profiling of a sample of growing churches (from a wide variety of contexts and traditions) and a randomly selected control group. It will involve a comprehensive investigation into the wide range of factors which might encourage or prevent growth.

A study of factors relating to growth at cathedrals, church planting and the impact of amalgamation of benefices and the use of different patterns of deployment of ministers.

The focus for the new research project is based on the Archbishop of Canterbury's strategic goals to the new General Synod in 2010 - to take forward spiritual and numerical growth in the CofE for all communities.

The new research programme is part of a wider area of work around research and development (2011-13).

That sound you can hear is me picking myself up off the floor.

In part this reflects what's happening on the ground - there's an excellent Diocesan strategy in Sheffield, based around church growth, and initiated by Steve Croft. But it's great to see the beginnings of national leadership on this issue.

....though I'm still not sure if the above is an advert or a press release. It's not clear who any potential researchers are supposed to contact, if they're interested in being part of the project.


  1. It is rather good news isn't it. The real key attribute that is needed for the role is the ability to convince the rest of the church to actually do something with the results of the work.

  2. This is great news! I am sure our wonderful Church of England will find a way to make church growth into a tedious and dull study, but hopefully not!

    I would love to be able to celebrate church growth and not feel slightly 'ashamed' in deanery circles to talk about it, and to aim for it. Our little church has grown from 14 older ladies to 35 adults and 17 children in 2 1/2 years - this is something to celebrate! I'm not quite sure how and why it happens, God tends to work outside theory and textbook and what works in one place won't work in another... I look forward to seeing the fruit of the study!

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  4. Hopefully the research will also look at the role of Dioceses, and what part a wider strategy plays in church growth. For example, does a widespread use of Mission Action Planning (e.g. York, London, and quite a few more recently) help? At the moment every diocese, in fact every parish, is an autonomous centre, and it would be good to see some joined up thinking based on best practice.