21 May 2012
Research Teams have been appointed to start work on an 18-month
project on church growth, supported by funding set aside by the
Archbishops' Council and the Church Commissioners for research and
The Church Growth Research Programme will focus on a range of
growth areas including cathedrals, church plants, different
patterns of deploying clergy and the union of parishes.
The successful organisations have been appointed through a
competitive tendering process which attracted a good number of high
A team from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at
the University of Essex, led by Professor David Voas, has been
appointed to undertake the data analysis and church profiling
strands of the research. These strands will involve extensive
analysis of existing data to test hypotheses around factors
relating to church growth and in depth profiling of churches
through a survey of 4,000 churches (from a wide variety of
contexts and traditions) and some follow up interviews. It will
involve a comprehensive investigation into the wide range of
factors which might encourage or prevent growth.
Professor Voas commented: "My colleagues at the Institute for
Social and Economic Research have made significant contributions to
informing social policy over the past decade - I'm pleased to
receive an even higher calling!"
The second strand involves a study of factors relating to growth
at cathedrals, fresh expressions and the impact of unions of
parishes and the use of different patterns of deployment of
ministers. This strand will be undertaken by a team led by Revd Dr
David Goodhew, Director of Ministerial Practice, Cranmer Hall, St
John's College, Durham.
Dr Goodhew commented: "This is a hugely exciting project, whose
findings will be crucial to the flourishing of the Church of
England in years to come."
The third strand, to be undertaken by the Oxford Centre for
Ecclesiology and Practical Theology (OxCEPT) at Ripon College,
Cuddesdon, will investigate church planting through undertaking a
number of in-depth case studies of a wide range of church
The strand leader, Dr Cathy Ross, Director of OxCEPT, commented:
"At OxCEPT we are thrilled to be partnering with the Church
Commissioners and Archbishops' Council to undertake research into
church planting. We are very much looking forward to
listening and learning from a variety of church planting
perspectives. The aim of this research is to evaluate
effective strategies, sustainability and self-government,
contextual and creative approaches, the real possibility of
transferability of methods, discipleship, and the impact on the
local community and beyond. In sum, the extent to which lives
are changed and communities transformed".
The focus for the new research project is based on the
Archbishop of Canterbury's strategic goals to the new General Synod
in 2010 - to take forward spiritual and numerical growth in the
Church of England for all communities.
The project will be completed by the autumn of 2013, with the
findings being disseminated widely, although it will be possible to
follow the progress of the project through a web site to be