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Cathedrals, Team Ministries & Amalgamation of Benefices

A team from Cranmer Hall, St John's College, Durham led by the Rev'd Dr David Goodhew (Director of Ministerial Practice at Cranmer Hall) will lead the research strand on Cathedrals, Amalgamations of Benefices and Fresh Expressions. They will work in collaboration with the Church Army's Sheffield Research Centre (led by the Rev'd Dr George Lings) who will be undertaking a wide ranging study of Fresh Expressions/Church Planting.

This strand will consider a number of particular structural issues and approaches to mission and ministry and their implications for church growth.

Cathedrals, Greater and Other City Centre Churches

This strand will clarify attendance trends between different acts of cathedral worship, between different types of cathedral and between different parts of England. Such general statistical analysis will be a foundation for qualitative work on the profile of those attending cathedral congregations and explaining why this growth is happening. The research team will then compare these findings with a selection of greater and other large city centre churches. The research will also consider the roles of civic profiles, historic resources and outstanding historic buildings as well as the impact of cathedrals and large churches on surrounding parish churches.

Team Ministries

'Team Ministries' are one of the major alternative ministry models to single incumbent benefices. Large numbers of teams were set up from the 1960s onwards. Whilst they have been of value, the range of problems they have faced has largely brought the fashion for creating teams to an end, and a few are being disbanded. Earlier research suggests that attendance trends in team churches were significantly worse than single-vicar churches. This strand will clarify:

  • whether or not teams overall are particularly prone to church decline
  • whether they are especially vulnerable in the early years of team formation
  • whether teams have been easier to 'cut' in terms of resource allocation and, if so, how this feeds into decline.
  • the impact of working in teams on clergy well being.

The study will also seek examples of teams which have experienced church growth and evaluate what characteristics of such parishes encouraged growth. The strand will make recommendations as to whether and how teams should be used in the future.

Amalgamation of Benefices

In view of the prevalence of pastoral reorganisation in response to falling stipendiary numbers, amalgamation of benefices may be as important a contemporary issue as teams. The principle questions that the research team will consider are:

  • Do multi-church benefices show different growth trends from single churches?
  • Do churches suffer losses during the reorganisation phase?
  • Do certain forms of pastoral re-organisation, or types and sizes of groupings, make churches more or less vulnerable to attendance loss?
  • Do different ways of working and different policies have an impact on growth? 

All of these sub-strands will involve the use of a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods including looking at existing data as well as carrying out surveys and interviews.