What do we know about church growth?
Is the church growing?
Where is there particular growth?
What do we know about why some churches grow and some decline?
Are there factors likely to be present in growing churches and declining churches?
What strategies appear to make no difference at all?
These were some of the questions the Church Growth Research Programme which ran between 2011-2013 in the UK sought to address. Their findings titled “From Anecdote to Evidence” discovered that while there was ‘no single recipe for church growth’ there are a number of ‘ingredients’ which are linked to growth in parish churches and can be applied to any setting. These are:
- Having a clear mission and purpose
- Being ready to self reflect and learn continually
- Being willing to change and adapt
- Assigning roles to lay people as well as ordained clergy
- Actively engaging children & teenagers
- Actively engaging with those who might not go to church/are outside the existing community
- Good welcoming and follow up for visitors
- Committed to nurturing new and existing Christians
Importantly, the research found that theological tradition appears to make no significant difference to church growth or decline. Neither does the gender, ethnicity or marital status of the leader.
If you want to find out more about these factors and how they relate to church growth, you could read the report directly or go to the Evidence to Action website. Evidence to Action provides a toolkit for your church to think about each of the factors and to act in order to develop them. It has worksheets, leaders guides, case studies, resources and a summary of the research findings for each of the factors.
In coming months this blog will focus on individual factors and provide some links to resources that might be useful for growing your church.