If you want one explanation for London Diocese 'outperforming' the rest of the CofE when it comes to church growth, then it's here. Over the last 10 years London has commissioned 2 substantial reports into the reasons for church growth and/or decline, and fed them into Diocesan policy. Other Dioceses will need to do their own work (not every Diocese has a Holy Trinity Brompton accounting for 25% of its growth), but if we are serious about reversing the trend of membership decline, then this is a key part of the solution.
It's interesting to look at the conclusions drawn in the most recent report. Key factors in growth include:
- church planting
- investing in childrens work
- being a smaller church (the bigger you are, the less likely to grow)
- short vacancies between clergy
- a big investment in welcome, in an area which sees a lot of population turnover.
Some of these lessons will apply in any Diocese, and maybe to any church whether Anglican or not.
One of the other things we need is a serious engagement with the reasons people leave. Here was what one commenter posted here a few days ago:
I left the church 12 months ago, for a number of reasons. Some of the reasons include a real lack of spiritual help in the church, poor quality preaching by people who although mean well, lack the ability to get the facts right when preaching, the failure of general synod to make public the millions of pounds lost in an unethical property investment in New York recently... There is more ....
Pastoral care, preaching, integrity, ethics, and that's just one person....