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Literature on Church Growth

Hover over a book to see the title,
and click on it to view the
literature index


How to Use

To navigate around the book there are a number of ways to travel. You can link to a page from the main index simply by clicking on a link.

To turn to the next page in the book, you can click the right or left edge of the page. You can also use the controls on the bookmarks, or my favourite is to grab a page corner with the mouse and turning.

You can quickly link back to the index from the link in the book listing. When linking back to the index the book only turns a single page to speed the return.

You can save or share the exact book page by simply copying the unique URL from your browser address bar.

Hope you enjoy reading the reviews!

Hope for the Church: Contemporary Strategies for Growth (Explorations)

  • Author: Jackson, B
  • Date of Publication: 2002
  • Origin: UK

In Hope for the Church the author takes a challenging look at church attendance figures and sets out to interpret their message for today's Church. Bob Jackson highlights areas where the Church is growing, analyses causes of decline and outlines strategic responses to the problem of declining numbers.

The Road to growth: towards a thriving church

  • Author: Jackson, B
  • Date of Publication: 2005
  • Origin: UK

Based on his consultancy experience with churches and dioceses and further research on the causes of church growth, Bob Jackson’s 2005 book seeks to show how the Church at parish, diocesan and national level can overturn its old cycle of decline and begin a new cycle of growth.

Church Growth in Britain 1980 to the Present

  • Author: Goodhew, D (Editor)
  • Date of Publication: 2012
  • Origin: UK

There has been substantial church growth in Britain between 1980 and 2010. This is the controversial conclusion from the international team of scholars, who have drawn on interdisciplinary studies and the latest research from across the UK. Such church growth is seen to be on a large scale, is multi-ethnic and can be found across a wide range of social and geographical contexts. It is happening inside mainline denominations but especially in specific regions such as London, in newer churches and amongst ethnic minorities. Church Growth in Britain provides a forceful critique of the notion of secularisation which dominates much of academia and the media - and which conditions the thinking of many churches and church leaders. This book demonstrates that, whilst decline is happening in some parts of the church, this needs to be balanced by recognition of the vitality of large swathes of the Christian church in Britain. Rebalancing the debate in this way requires wholesale change in our understanding of contemporary British Christianity.

Churchgoing in the UK: A research report from Tearfund on church attendance in the UK

  • Author: Ashworth, J., Research Matters and Farthing, I.
  • Date of Publication: 2007
  • Origin: UK

This report represents the main findings that emerge from this research among a representative poll of 7,000 adults in the UK, aged 16 or over, between 8th February to 5th March 2006. Designed in part to complement the Church Census data, this survey of features participants who are non-attendees and/or non-believers, as well as Churchgoers. It finds that whilst the majority of people in the UK belong to the Christian religion (53 per cent), only 15 per cent regularly attend Church (this contrast is discussed below in relation to other literature in terms of the ‘believing not belonging’ thesis). The following groups are more likely than average to be regular churchgoers: women, higher socio-economic groups, older people (especially those aged over 55) and those of black ethnic origin. One of the most compelling aspects of the report is the segmentation model, where those who do not currently regularly attend church are classified by a) whether they have any previous experience of church and b) whether they are receptive to becoming involved in the future. Personal invitation, especially by a family member, appears to be the most likely method of drawing people into the church in the future.

Another Capital Idea

  • Author: Jackson, B. and Piggott, A.
  • Date of Publication: 2011
  • Origin: UK

This specific study on growth in the Diocese of London is an update from the authors' previous report 'A Capital Idea'. London has been widely reported to be in a state of growth when all other dioceses in England are not and the authors aim to uncover some of the factors underlying this. The report updates the progress and patterns of growth up to 2010, and makes further suggestions for the future growth and flourishing of the churches.

The study looks at patterns of growth and also suggests that positive strategies are available to combat the forces of decline and generate new growth in the 21st century.

Natural Church Development

  • Author: Schwarz, C.
  • Date of Publication: 1996
  • Origin: International

Schwarz presents this study of church growth as a kind of self-help book: a “method” of church development, what he terms Natural Church Development (NCD). You can follow the process by using the book as a guide to take you through each strategic step to achieving NCD: or, alternatively, use the 8 quality characteristics, or 6 growth forces, the “minimum factor” and Schwarz’s growth spiral for implementing church changes to achieve growth. Schwarz bases these methods on a very large sample, drawn internationally and across denominations, of over 1000 churches. Schwarz’s full database of surveyed churches includes over 45,000 churches.

The 8 quality characteristics are:
Empowering Leadership, Gift-based Ministry, Passionate Spirituality, Inspiring Worship Service, Holistic Small Groups, Need-oriented Evangelism, Loving Relationships.

The 6 growth forces are:
Interdependence, Multiplication, Energy transformation, Sustainability, Symbiosis, Fruitfulness.

Schwarz also reports that the larger a church gets, the slower its rate of growth (p.48).

United Methodist Church A call to action: Vital congregations research

  • Author: De Wetter, D., Gochman, I., Luss, R. and Sherwood, R.
  • Date of Publication: 2010
  • Origin: USA

This is a particularly interesting and thorough study. Towers Watson carried out a large number of interviews, focus groups and surveys across the denomination in order to develop hypotheses on what drives church vitality, calculating a vitality index for over 32,000 churches. They considered three sub-factors of vitality namely attendance, growth and engagement. Towers Watson then tested the hypotheses on existing data as well as the additional data collected using sophisticated statistical methods. The study found that:

All kinds of UMC churches showed high vitality – small, large, across different geographies, and church settings (e.g. urban, rural).The four drivers of vitality are fairly consistent across different churches namely:

• Effective lay leadership.
• The existence and number of small groups and programs (including for Children and Youth).
• A mix of traditional and contemporary styles of worship.
• The Pastor exhibiting excellence in key attributes and the length of his or her appointment.

Turning the Tide: An assessment of Baptist Church Growth in England

  • Author: Beasley-Murray, P. and Wilkinson, A.
  • Date of Publication: 1981
  • Origin: UK

The authors surveyed a sample of 330 baptist churches with membership of over 50. It measured growth by requesting church leaders to record their membership at 10, 5 and 2 years ago as well as the current level. A broad finding was that churches existed in discrete growth categories – those at 101-150 and 300+ were more likely than average to be growing: by contrast those at 50-100 and 151-299 were far less likely than average to be growing. Chapter 4  focuses on minister attributes. Those aged 30-39 were 9% more likely than average to be leading growing churches. Those in their 5th-10th years of ministry post-training were easily above average in likelihood of leading growing churches. Looking at cell activity as a percentage of all church activity: in this sample, churches that are growing are more likely to have higher cell activity proportionally: whereas churches in decline are less likely to have higher percentages. The authors also offer an interesting explanation of a factor in the church growth debate, the “enigmas” – churches that seem to do all the right things yet still decline, and vice versa. They state that these tend to be profiting or suffering from transfer growth, and support this with anecdotal evidence from the sampled churches’ congregations.

Pulling out of the Nosedive: A Contemporary Picture of Churchgoing, What the 2005 English Church Census Reveals

  • Author: Brierley, P. (Christian Research)
  • Date of Publication: 2006
  • Origin: UK

This study analyses results from the large scale 2005 English Church Census which was carried out by Christian Research on 8 May 2005 with the participation of 18,720 churches - half of the total of 37,501 known churches in England that were originally contacted.