The concept of church growth

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The five marks of mission of the Anglican Communion, of which the Church of England is part, are:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

In line with this mission purpose, it is the responsibility of the Church of England to offer, with its ecumenical partners, to every person and every community in England:

  • the proclamation of the Gospel in worship, word, sacrament and service;
  • pastoral ministry,
  • access to public worship,
  • witness to Christian truth at every level of public life.

The Church of England is the Established Church in England and has a legal obligation to deploy licensed ministers with the care of souls over every part of the country and provide a place of worship accessible to every person.

The Church, in undertaking its mission, seeks to grow in the following interrelated ways:

  • The holiness, transformation and commitment of her members (growth in depth) - both individuals and churches.
  • Increased number of disciples of Jesus Christ (growth in numbers).
  • The fruit of social righteousness and a transformed society (growth in the outworking of our discipleship).

It is God alone who gives the growth in the church (1 Cor. 3: 5-9). So growth is not to be fulfilled for its own sake. It is only good growth when it comes through faithfulness to the gospel. Sometimes, in history, the Church has been faithful and not grown; and at other times, it has been unfaithful, but also proved to be relatively popular.

God gives His Church gifts to undertake His mission and the Church needs to steward these gifts in order to shape and develop the effectiveness of the Church’s work, and thus the extent to which it is growing (in terms of any of the dimensions and concepts set out above).