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Use this to engage with others around the country who have an interest in the different aspects of church growth. We really value your opinions and experiences and we would love for you to be a part of this exciting research programme.

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OxCEPT's case study research on church plants

The work for this sub-strand involves in-depth studies of 31 church plants. The OxCEPT research team will consider a range of different types of plants from a range of traditions both in London and the rest of England. They will seek to establish what kinds of plants - their type and context, and leadership and practice - deliver numerical church growth, how, and the reasons why.

The researchers will take an inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary approach and will consist of an in-depth engagement with a range of practitioners, theorists and congregations in order to deepen our understanding of church planting.

The project will:

  • Explore how shifting demographics in communities – mobility and changes in population – actually require a more flexible model of parochial ministry that will reach emerging or changing neighbourhoods.
  • Assess growth in relation to contextual, social and class factors, age profile; urban, rural, suburban and urban priority area situations. It will also judge and calculate how the growth emerges.
  • Examine the difference between a church plant and a congregational plant, and the extent to which the church plant is to be understood as replication (of a parent church) or multiplication (i.e. generating new numerical growth).
  • Measure the numerical impact of church planting in communities – numerically, but also socially – and in terms of its profile within neighbourhoods with respect to wider concerns in mission.
  • Analyse practices, and then discern and distil principles, which can be shared more widely within the church, and be used to develop and shape training and formation in mission and ministry.

The methodology will incorporate qualitative and quantitative research methods. Specifically, this includes the collection and analysis of statistical data, ethnographic studies of the chosen contexts, interviews and other forms of field work (e.g. analysis of social demographics, etc). Interviews will assess the perceived and actual impact of church planting. Church plants will be visited, with interviews conducted and questionnaires distributed. Data will then be analysed, evaluated and written up, giving specific outcomes and recommendations. The project will match the strong anecdotal evidence we have for numerical growth with actual statistical information, and measure the extent to which a church plant is another form of congregational replication, or, rather, is a form of new numerical growth (i.e. multiplication) which might not have been achieved had the current paradigms and models of ministry (i.e. parochial, team, etc) simply continued to prevail.