The Church Development Tool

A way of planning together: simple, effective, encouraging
A vicar speaks to a woman in a coffee area of a church

What is your church great at? What support would your congregation like to grow in faith and discipleship? How representative is your congregation of the diversity of the community you serve?

The Church Development Tool can help you find out – and then point you to simple, tried and tested resources that will help you act on what you discover. 

The process helps you prioritise what to focus on in the years ahead and engages your whole congregation in the process, offering ways to involve children and young people as well as adults.

Webinar Recording: Getting started with the Church Development Tool

Find out about how the Church Development Tool could help your worshipping community and see a demonstration of how to set it up and view your results using AChurchNearYou.com. This information is aimed at church leaders.

What is it?

The Church Development Tool is a short anonymous survey you ask your worshipping community to complete. You then get a simple report that gives you a clear picture of demographics, discipleship and evangelism in your church. 

We also provide accompanying surveys for children and young people so that you can learn about their experiences of church.

How can it help me?

The survey results help you to look at your community with fresh eyes and find the opportunities for growth. This could be by building on strengths or addressing gaps.

In particular, the Church Development Tool can help you to look at:

  • how representative your church community is of the community you serve - the report you get will show you your congregation’s demographics in comparison to the census data for your parish

  • how your congregation are living out their faith and growing in discipleship
  • what opportunities for engaging with children and young people might look like in your parish

After you have used the tool there is a guide with tips and links to a range of resources to choose from, to help you act on what your survey results suggest.

If you want, you can contact your diocesan staff for discipleship or parish support for help interpreting the results and choosing what to focus on.

How could it help? Some examples

“The PCC has discussed the results and is using them for refreshing our Mission Action Plan, which is excellent.”

Feedback from user of Church Development Tool in 2021

If the survey results reveal that people in your church have a strong interest in engaging in wider community activities, this could help your planning because it might mean you could consider offering space to incorporate more of these activities into your church’s mission work.
 

If the survey results show that not everyone agrees ‘I know how my faith connects with everyday life’, then you might think about if you want to consider how this could be talked about more, or consider following an Everyday Faith journey together (from the Church of England's new Everyday Faith portal).

There is a question about whether respondents are involved in leading small groups. If you see several responses of ‘no, but would like to’, you could think about how you could support people to come forward as small group leaders and how you could train or mentor them to help with this. 

How it works

It works like this:

Church leaders can to log into AChurchNearYou.com as an editor, visit the Marketplace and you will see the option to enable The Church Development Tool survey. There you will be able to find a choice of ways to invite your worshipping community to respond:

  • a link to email people, to ask them to complete the survey online
  • a printable PDF poster with a QR code to the survey, to display for people to scan with a smartphone to respond online
  • a printable PDF of the survey, for people who prefer to respond on paper

We will also supply suggested text and slides to help you explain about the Church Development Tool to your worshipping community and invite them to take part, to use if you wish. 

Surveys completed online are automatically counted. Someone at your church will just need to input results from any paper surveys into AChurchNearYou.com - anyone who is an editor for the church on AChurchNearYou.com can do this.

Once the responses are in, AChurchNearYou.com then generates a report for you with graphs, that you can view on screen, download as PDF or print. 

Full instructions for AChurchNearYou.com editors.

If you are not already a registered approved editor on AChurchNearYou.com, sign up now.  

Please note: People won't need to be an AChurchNearYou.com editor to answer the Church Development Tool survey. 

The survey is currently closed for 2024 entries and will be opened in July, 2024. You are able to look at your 2023 results but not add new survey responses. If you used the Church Development Tool in 2022 you can still see your 2022 results as well. 

Frequently asked questions

What are the questions? What does the report look like?
How can I gather responses?
How do I get started with using the tool in my church?
Is there a time period in which the survey has to be completed?
Who gets to see the results?
How will individuals’ data be protected?
Why are you including the demographic questions, what about census data, doesn’t that already tell me about the demographics of my congregation?
Will this cost us anything?
In the questionnaire - how do you define 'regular' and  'occasional' attendance?
Can the survey be done for a multi-parish benefice?
How often do you recommend running the survey?
How long will the tool be open for?