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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!

Go Big

  • Author: Cornelius, B. & Easum, B.
  • Date of Publication: 2006
  • Origin: US

This US based text is the experience of two pastors (one of whom is now a consultant) in growing their church (and others) from scratch to over 4000 in 7 years.

Chapter 3 – “structuring your church for growth” – suggests a pastor-led church, with aspects of leadership such as democratic representation of the laity rejected as unbiblical models of leadership that lead to a lack of decision-making. They do advocate hiring a very small team (e.g, a team of 4 for a congregation of over 1000) to ensure the pastor is being held accountable.

Chapter 4 focuses on gaining and keeping a congregation, and the authors suggest direct mail campaigns, word of mouth marketing and that the pastor call on everyone as often as possible – minimum weekly – until the church is too large to manage this. Then the task should be delegated.

Chapter 5 looks at barriers to growth, primarily identifying that a change of leadership style can be the deciding factor in allowing growth.

Resourcing Renewal

  • Author: Atkins, M
  • Date of Publication: 2007
  • Origin: UK

Atkins looks at church size as a deciding growth factor, identifying the two most common approaches: growing to be huge, and shrinking to be small. Large churches (300+) grow due to a post-denominationalist, consumer approach: that the church, whether “renewed” or “traditional” meets with the values, and locality, of potential attendees. Questions like “is there something for my children” are commonly posed.Having looked across a number of growing churches Atkins extracts the following qualities for success:

  • Worship – a full understanding that this is not offered for the congregation nor the unchurched, but for God
  • Worship style which enables believers to become disciples
  • Lay participation and involvement
  • Addressing “new spirituality” (seen in the rise of alternative beliefs) with welcoming arms
  • Use of the whole week for services
  • Do less, better.
  • Services for young people, even if there are none in the church – this creates networks beyond the young people themselves

Small groups, growing churches

  • Author: Law, M.
  • Date of Publication: 2003
  • Origin: UK

The link between growing churches and effective small groups is the starting-point for this resource book, 'training dynamic leaders for today's needs and tomorrow's challenges'.

Its 15 chapters look at various aspects of groups, such as; their purpose, Bible study, prayer, leadership, fellowship, growing the group, outreach from groups and 'identifying and handling problems creatively'. After an overview of the topic, each chapter offers sections entitled Ideas, Reflect, Group Focus, Review and Resources.

Leading ordinary churches into growth

  • Author: Howe, A.
  • Date of Publication: 2006
  • Origin: UK

This text looks at 7 churches in the Nottingham area which grew by a minimum of 20% in the period 1998 - 2002. The method involved a Sunday observational visit, a 2 hour interview with the incumbent and a focus group with 7-10 lay leaders/members. The analysis focuses on leadership.

Four characteristics are identified. The study states that church-growing leaders:

  • Have the spiritual gift of leadership;
  • Think/act strategically and promote strategic behaviour in others;
  • Think/act transformationally and promote positive change in the church;
  • Think/act incarnationally and give themselves sacrificially to the task.

Church Morph: How Megatrends are Reshaping Christian Communities

  • Author: Gibbs, E.
  • Date of Publication: 2009
  • Origin: US / UK

This text contains case studies of emerging churches, with a preference toward U.S churches but also many from the UK and indeed around the world. The core question for the megachurch is whether they sustain growth, or whether theirs is composed mainly of transfer growth from smaller churches, with a high proportion of members leaving offset by high numbers joining. Gibbs looks at Willow Creek’s self-evaluation  which had some surprising findings. This survey of church member attitudes occurred across two year groups – 6000 members in 04 and 5000 in 07. The report found that 1 in 4 members were “stalled” in their spiritual development, were dissatisfied with the church and were considering leaving.  

Growing the Smaller Church

  • Author: Breen, M. and Fox, S.
  • Date of Publication: 1992
  • Origin: UK

This Church Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS) handbook is aimed at motivating small churches to develop a programme of evangelism in their local communities.

Vicars with 2 churches: analysis

  • Author: Fisher, G.
  • Date of Publication: 2012
  • Origin: UK

A summary of the research done by George Fisher in Lichfield Diocese can be found by clicking here. This was done in response to several clergy expressing that running two churches is in some ways harder than running four or five and little or no training/help is available for this type of post which is becoming increasingly common. If anyone else has done similar research or has comments or ideas, please contact George at