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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!

Church closure and membership statistics: trends in four rural dioceses

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

This focuses on 4 rural dioceses, to see what effect (if any) their closure has on church membership. In the paper, the arguments for and against rural church closure are described, with the tension between the need to have a presence everywhere and the need to support that presence with finance and resources neatly outlined along with the impact of church closure on church life. A dataset spanning 30 years was used (1970-2000), with numerous measures of membership (electoral rolls, Easter day communicants, Christmas day/eve communicants, and the usual Sunday Attendance measure). These were all compared to population figures for each area in order to give context. The findings showed, above all, that the dioceses lost churches and members at different rates. The two dioceses losing the most churches (Lincoln and Hereford) have very different ratios of population to church membership. By contrast, the two dioceses losing the least had similar ratios of population to church membership. The decline in Easter Day communicants was observed to be sharpest for those dioceses with the biggest decline in rural churches, but this was not the case for Christmas communicants.  

Marks of mission and ways of belonging: shaping the mission agenda for occasional churchgoers in the countryside

  • Author: Walker, D.
  • Date of Publication: 2011
  • Origin: UK

This paper uses quantitative methods in conjunction with the five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion to identify opportunities and give direction to mission. It applies the model of belonging through activity, events, people and place developed in an earlier paper to data provided by 326 occasional and 775 frequent churchgoers in a survey conducted in 27 rural parish churches. For occasional churchgoers a distinctive pattern of belonging, as predicted by the model, is observed and a simple characterisation made. The application of the Five Marks of Mission to this group is discussed and practical suggestions made to help churches engage effectively with them as both agents and recipients of mission activity. The paper concludes that perceived limitations in the faith of occasional church attendees may derive from a failure by the church to value their mode of belonging and to engage with them on their own territory.

Is the rural church different? The special case of confirmation

  • Author: Lankshear, D. W.
  • Date of Publication: 2004
  • Origin: UK

The nationally published statistics of confirmation candidates in the Church of England between 1950 and 1999 are explored for three groups of dioceses. These groups are the most rural, the most urban and a group that lies around the centre of the continuum between rural and urban. The decline in the number of candidates after the 1960s is traced. The figures are also compared with the population of the dioceses, the members of the electoral roll and the numbers of Easter day communicants. The gender balance with confirmation candidates is also explored for this period. Attention is drawn to the differences between the urban and rural patterns of presentation of candidates for confirmation and the changes in these during the fifty year period being considered. A number of explanations for the differences noted are advanced and it is suggested that these possible explanations are best tested through research at diocesan level. Attention is also drawn to the weaknesses inherent in the rural/urban model when it is used as a descriptor of the Church of England.


Mission-shaped and Rural: Growing Churches in the Countryside

  • Author: Gaze, S.
  • Date of Publication: 2006
  • Origin: UK

Using a mix of theological reflection, sociological analysis, real-life case studies and personal experience this book explores ways forward for mission in a rural context in both traditional and fresh expressions of church.

This book looks at current issues in rural England and explores:

  • the nature of mission with special reference to the rural situation;
  • ways for the Church to engage with rural culture;
  • examples of rural fresh expressions of church;
  • identifying and pruning the things which inhibit mission in the countryside;
  • how all forms of church can work together for the glory of God.


Religion in Rural Wales: Four Restudies

  • Author: Bruce, S.
  • Date of Publication: 2010
  • Origin: UK

This article was published in the journal Contemporary Wales (23).

Four rural Welsh parishes were the subject of detailed fieldwork in the 1950s and early 1960s: Isabel Emmett's Llanfrothen, Trefor M. Owen's Llanuwchllyn, Alwyn. D. Rees's Llanfihangel yng Ngwynfa, and Ronald Frankenberg's Llansantffraid Glyn Ceiriog. This essay describes the extent to which the chapel culture in all four sites has decayed and offers a tentative explanation of why Llanuwchllyn has proved relatively more resistant to secularization than the other three parishes.

Across a Threshold: A family of rural church plants

  • Author: Lings, G.
  • Date of Publication: 2009
  • Origin: UK

This encouters on the edge volume looks at the development of the Threshold family of Fresh Expressions.