Church of England sets sights on growth

The Church of England is encouraging people to engage in its Church Growth Research Programme.

The programme is an 18-month academic research project exploring the factors behind spiritual and numerical church growth.

The Church of England is working with researchers at the University of Essex, Cranmer Hall, St John's College Durham, the Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology, and Ripon College.

A website has been set up with case studies and literature on church growth. Visitors to the site can sign up to the discussions forum to share their views and experiences of church growth. Discussions include Fresh Expressions and church planting, how to measure church growth, and experiences of decline.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, said: “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.”

In addition to the information gathered via the website, researchers will survey 4,000 Church of England churches.

The project is due to be completed by autumn 2013.