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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!

The Healthy Churches' Handbook: A process for Revitalizing Your Church

  • Author: Warren, R.
  • Date of Publication: 2004 (new edition 2012)
  • Origin: UK

This book provides a practical guide to help churches discover their strengths & weaknesses as part of the process of developing a more healthy church. In particular, it identifies & discusses seven useful marks of a healthy church. These are:

1. Energized by faith rather than just keeping things going or trying to survive.
2. Outward-looking focus with a 'whole life' rather than a 'church life' concern.
3. Seeks to find out what God wants discerning the Spirit’s leaning rather than trying to please everyone.
4. Faces the cost of change and growth rather than resisting change and avoiding failure.
5. Operates as a community rather than functioning as a club or religious organisation.
6. Makes room for all being inclusive rather than exclusive.
7. Does a few things and do them well focused rather than frenetic.

It is a widely used book on the relationship between church health and church growth. 

Developing Healthy Churches: Returning to the Heart of Mission and Ministry

  • Author: Warren, R.
  • Date of Publication: 2012
  • Origin: UK

Developing Healthy Churches is a practical guide for any leader seeking to revitalize and grow their church.

The sequel to The Healthy Churches’ Handbook, this new volume will help you implement approaches for healthy church growth at Parish level.

It aims to help the reader build the church in several key areas:

  • nurturing spirituality
  • re-working pastoral care
  • re-working home groups
  • re-working giving
  • re-working evangelism
  • re-working mission



Beyond Decline: A Challenge to the Churches

  • Author: Gill, R
  • Date of Publication: 1988
  • Origin: UK

Within this book there is an interesting discussion on the effect of patters of deployment in urban compared to rural areas.

Gill (1988) points to the imbalanced deployment of rural and urban clergy as contributing to the decline of the church, giving figures for North Northumberland (a largely rural region with one urban area).

Gill argues further that rural church amalgamation does not mollify decline but promotes it. He states that whilst amalgamation allows more rural populations the possibility of a clergyperson, these clergy have such wide remits that poor church quality results, promoting decline.

Concluding that “the model of stipendiary clergy in rural areas is exhausted”, Gill suggests we might rely more upon stipendiary extra parochial clergy and non-stipendiary clergy.



Ministry in Three Dimensions: Ordination and Leadership in the Local Church

  • Author: Croft, S.
  • Date of Publication: 2008
  • Origin: UK

This text is divided into 4 parts, covering the inherent contemporary problems of ministry and Croft’s suggestions for how to approach them.The first part broadly covers contemporary ministry and its challenges for ministry (including lay ministry). The next three parts deal in turn with three separate facets of these problems at different levels.

Croft sets out some strong principles in this book, and is forward-thinking about how ministry must change to address a changing society.

Curating Worship

  • Author: Baker, J.
  • Date of Publication: 2010
  • Origin: UK

This text addresses church leadership, suggesting that top-down church 'management' is just one way of creating the environment for worship. The authors describe and discuss a new form, worship curation, whereby the environment is created by a leader but, as with gallery curation, the leader then becomes invisible and the content and interaction of worship is largely created by the congregation. The text takes the form of a series of essays by church curation practitioners.

Going for Growth

  • Author: Jackson, B.
  • Date of Publication: 2006
  • Origin: UK

In "Going for Growth" Bob Jackson applies the challenging lessons of "The Road to Growth" to the life of a local church. This short, accessible book allows church leaders to get a handle on what makes local churches grow. Packed with ideas, questions, research-based strategies and short case studies, Going for Growth offers options and inspiration. The eight concise chapters tackle growing the Church through; good practice, change, fresh expressions, policy and values, deploying the clergy, lay leadership and training, sound finances and spiritual renewal. The book also contains suggestions for turning its findings into a cell/small group course on church growth. This book acts as a launch pad for prayer, discussion and strategic planning.

Mind the Gap

  • Author: The Archbishops' Council
  • Date of Publication: 2002
  • Origin: UK

This text has a primary focus on methods of Continuing Ministry Education (CME), and was developed and written by a working party over the course of two years. It reflects a summary of desk research, instances of field research and best practice summaries from the working party.

It highlights a significant factor in management and resource, which is that the provision of funding is not the only factor influencing training uptake but also opportunities and the culture of training within the diocese.

The report also notes throughout that the need for greater consistency within dioceses and between them in acceptable training options is required to allow clergy to build their ministry and pastoral abilities throughout their lives. They state 4 key aspects: CME must have a rationale (i.e an objective); must be balanced throughout the career and adaptable to the changes in that career; must be integrated, with reviews at diocese level; and must be evaluated, in order to feed best practice in church as a whole.

Interim Ministry

  • Author: Jones, E
  • Date of Publication: (Unpublished)
  • Origin: UK

This is not a study as such but preparation by the author of research in the field for her doctoral thesis. Interim periods are seen as a source of decline in themselves as per Jackson (2002, 2005), but here Jones presents work that looks more closely at how interim ministries may work for the gain of the church. She presents the research that is based in the US on this subject as being suitable for comparisons to the different practices in England and Scotland.

The text provides a number of scenarios for when it is best to have Interim Ministries.

The Ordination of Women and the Church of England Today: Two Integrities, but One Pattern of Decline in Membership Statistics

  • Author: Roberts, C., Robbins, M., Francis, L.J. and Hills, P.
  • Date of Publication: 2006
  • Origin: UK

This study charts the debate from the early 1990s and reanalyses centrally collected statistics to identify how the 42 mainland dioceses have responded so differently to the opportunity to ordain women to the priesthood. Then the rate of growth or decline in terms of membership statistics within the dioceses is assessed against their attitude toward the ordination of women. The data demonstrate that dioceses which have apparently encouraged the ordination of women have overall experienced neither greater nor lesser decline in terms of membership statistics than dioceses which have apparently discouraged the ordination of women.

Leadership, Vision and Growing Churches

  • Author: Brierley, P.
  • Date of Publication: 2003
  • Origin: UK

This booklet was published by Christian Research and contains results from 1,100 Congregations in a study sponsored by the Salvation Army. The survey sample included both growing and declining churches. The ministers of the churches were also asked to complete a leadership survey.

Peter Brierley provides a summary of the study on this site

Effective Ministerial Leadership

  • Author: Butler, D.M. and Herman, R.D.
  • Date of Publication: 1999
  • Origin: USA

This article was published in the journal Nonprofit Management & Leadership, vol. 9, no. 3, Spring 1999. Abstract:

Ministers of local congregations are in positions somewhat similar to the chief executives of other local nonprofit organizations, except that ministers are also expected to respond to the specifically religious needs of their congregants. In this article we assess how especially effective ministers in one denomination differ from less effective ministers in both general leadership skills and specifically religious leadership skills. The especially effective ministers were identified by applying three selection methods, resulting in an unusually careful selection of a sample of especially effective leaders. The results show that the especially effective are more skillful managers, problem solvers, planners, delegators, change agents, shepherds, inspirers, multitaskers, students, and servants and demonstrate themselves to be persons of integrity.

The research was conducted on Pastors of the Church of the Nazarene in the USA.


Color Your World with NCD

  • Author: Schwarz, C.A.
  • Date of Publication: 2005
  • Origin: International

This book looks at the 8 characteristics of church health (identified by Schwarz in his work on Natural Church Development (NCD) which help churches grow qualitatively and quantatively. Further details about NCD can be found by visiting this site.