All are invited to visit and interact with a new website built to support the work of the Church Growth Research Programme - the national 18-month academic research project exploring the factors related to spiritual and in particular numerical church growth of the Church of England.
The research is being funded through funding set aside by the Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council for research and development. This project is being undertaken in partnership with the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex; Cranmer Hall, St John's College, Durham and the Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology, Ripon College, Cuddesdon.
The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, explains the reasons behind the project in a video on the website; the Bishop says: “There are many communities and parishes that are growing and we want to identify the levers and drives of this growth. We want to do that not just out of a spirit of pure research, but to help those involved in leadership in parishes and communities to see how resources can be used most effectively.”
By visiting www.churchgrowthresearch.org.uk, users can engage with the Programme in a number of ways. A section of the site summarises existing literature on church growth and invites readers to suggest additions to this growing collection of research. There is a page that details case studies of growing churches in a number of different contexts across the Church of England, which will continue to be expanded during the course of the project.
Visitors to the website are invited to get involved with the debate on church growth by signing up to the discussions forum. Through the forum, contributions can be made to the project by sharing views and experiences of church growth. Discussions include: What is church growth and how do you measure it?; Fresh Expressions & church planting; Theology of church growth and personal experiences of church growth or decline.
In addition, the programme aims to engage further and converse with those on Twitter via @ChurchGrowthRD.
As this information accumulates online, the Programme will survey 4,000 Church of England churches, inviting them to feedback on their experiences of church growth and decline, and describe their current parish and its ministry in more detail.
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 the website.