Thursday, February 09, 2012

What the Church of England Needs

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....


  1. Thanks David this is a very helpful blog i have sent it to our church growth person in the diocese. i think there is much to be said for the opportunity to grow small church's. someone needs to look at how we do that while shrinking larger church's positively ie giving their gifts away.
    Nigel Traynor

  2. While I completely agree about dioceses really needing to do this sort of analysis and consideration, I think there are many other reasons for London being a growing area, that other places do not have. HTB is a prime example, that people will travel there ( and ASLP, and others ), sometimes depriving their local areas of their presence.

    So yes, non-London dioceses, make growth a priority. But don't play the league tables game.

  3. David, thank you for 'listening' without judging me on reasons for leaving the CoE. Most people try to explain away my reasons as though it was completely my problem and that the church is not at fault. So thank you. Let me add that my faith remains and Y'shua is still my Lord.

  4. Steve - I'm appalled by that, and sorry that's been your experience. Unless the church learns to say 'sorry' to the people it has let down over the years, we'll never get anywhere. I'm glad you still have your faith, but I'm dismayed that someone 'listening without judging' is abnormal rather than normal (holds head in hands).

  5. I may be stating the obvious, but growth in depth is at least as important as numerical growth, but harder to measure. On the other hand where church members are growing in spiritual depth and discipleship, numerical growth may follow. Perhaps if we were less concerned with growing the church and more with building God's kingdom?