An update on the ‘New Churches in the North East’ project

The ‘New Churches in the North East’ project is close to completion. At a conference at St Johns College, Durham on 17th April 2015 (for more info, see here) draft findings were presented. The research team estimate that at least 120 new churches have been founded in the North East of England since 1980. Of these, around 40 are based in minority ethnic communities. The new churches represent a major new feature on the religious landscape of the North East. Their existence calls into questions pictures of secularisation that assume that the regions of England are seeing blanket secularisation. The prominence of black and minority ethnic communities within the new churches shows that the North East is significantly more diverse than is often assumed. The final report for the project will be issued in September 2015.

Forthcoming seminar

Dept of Theology and Religion, Durham University:

Seminar entitled ‘New Churches in the North East Research Project: Methodology, Theology and Latest Findings’ led by David Goodhew (Director of Ministerial Practice, Cranmer Hall) – Wednesday 11 March 11.30 am, Seminar Room B

Publication Date Set for Towards a Theology of Church Growth

The publishers Ashgate have announced that the volume Towards a Theology of Church Growth, based on a conference run by CCGR in 2013, will be published on 2nd June 2015. It includes contributions from leading scholars such as Prof. Alister McGrath, Sr. Benedicta Ward and Prof. Kavin Rowe and has a foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. More details can be found at:

New Research Project: Growth and Decline in the Anglican Communion, 1980 to the Present

The publishers Ashgate have agreed to publish a volume provisionally entitled Growth and Decline in the Anglican Communion, 1980 to the Present

The volume will explore church growth and decline across the worldwide Anglican communion. The Anglican Communion has seen dramatic church growth and decline across recent decades. This volume offers the first detailed study of such growth and decline, from 1980 to the present, by means of a range of case studies across five continents. The case studies will look at Kenya, Congo, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Singapore, Korea, Australia, the USA and England.

For more info, see the project web page, which can be accessed here

‘Church Statistics: the Latest Picture’ A public lecture by Dr Peter Brierley

23 June 2014, 5pm at Etchells House, Cranmer Hall, 16 South Bailey, Durham

A public lecture by Dr Peter Brierley. Dr Brierley is one of the leading statisticians with regard to church statistics in the UK. He was the leading figure for many years in the charity, ‘Christian Research’ and edited the series ‘Religious Trends’ and is now a Visiting Fellow of St John’s College, Durham.

Peter will present the current picture of church life, including the latest calculations, with particular reference to the recent London Church Census.

All are welcome – but, if you intend coming, RSVP to:

The lecture is organised by the Centre for Church Growth Research, based at Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham University

Abstracts of papers from recent CCGR conference now available for download

Abstracts of papers presented at the Centre for Church Growth Research’s recent conference, Church Growth and Decline in Contemporary London, can now be downloaded here.

The conference was a huge success, and Centre for Church Growth Research staff are currently in conversation with publishers about turning the papers from the conference into a book. More news on this to follow.

CCGR Team Play Crucial Part in Major Church of England Research

A team based at the Centre of Church Growth Research have played a crucial role in a major research project for the Church of England. Findings of The Church Growth Research Programme, which were reported at the Faith in Research Conference in London on 16th January, show that many churches are growing across the country. Against a backdrop of decline in church attendance over the last decade, this is startling and significant news for the Church of England. Andreas Whittam Smith, former editor of the Independent, chaired the group who commissioned the research. He welcomed the findings:

“The findings of this research provide facts figures and stories which are helpful to the Church and vital to our understanding of which factors contribute to growth.
There is now a substantial body of evidence and the findings have provided a firm foundation for researching further some of the associations found.”

The team based at Cranmer Hall researched three key areas: new forms of church, cathedrals and ‘amalgamations’ (clusters of two or more churches, working together).

One strand of the Durham research was led by George Lings of the Church Army. This examined new forms of church which meet in a variety of venues and seek to engage especially with non-church goers. These ‘fresh expressions’ have seen significant growth; four times as many are being started now compared with ten years ago. The number of attenders at the 477 fresh expressions of Church within ten dioceses surveyed is equivalent to adding the people of one new medium sized diocese (around 21,000). These are churches but not as normally understood – including Café Churches, churches in schools, ‘Messy Church’ for families with younger children and even churches which meet in pubs and bars. More than half (56%) meet outside of a church building and over half (52%) are run by lay people.

A team led by Canon John Holmes looked at cathedrals. Cathedrals also show significant growth in overall numbers over the last decade and especially in weekday attendance. Overall weekly attendance grew by 35% between 2002 and 2012. Especially significant is weekday attendance, which has more than doubled in ten years from 5,600 in 2002 to 12,400 in 2012. In a survey of cathedral worshippers, peace and contemplation, worship and music and a friendly atmosphere were identified as the top three motivating factors for attending.

The research made crucial conclusions regarding amalgamations (clusters of two or more churches, working together). It is clear that churches grow best when they are led by a priest who has responsibility for just one church – and the more churches grouped together under a single vicar, the less they grow. This finding has major implications for current policy.

The research was commissioned by the Archbishops Council and the Board of the Church Commissioners. This is the first time that a systematic multi-method study of factors relating to church growth has been undertaken within the context of the Church of England. The Church of England recently agreed to validate the training for most of its clergy through Durham University. This recent research partnership with Durham cements that link and shows how the University is playing a key role in an institution central both to England and to a worldwide religious community of some 85 million people.

For more information about the research contact David Goodhew:


Church Growth: Cathedrals & Greater Churches (Strand 3a)
An analysis of Cathedrals and Greater Churches – Research conducted by The Revd Canon John Holmes as part of the consortium led by Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham for the Church Growth Research Programme.
Download File

Church Growth: Fresh Expressions (Strand 3b)
An analysis of Fresh Expressions of Church – Research conducted by The Revd Canon Dr George Lings (Director of the Church Army’s Research Unit) as part of the consortium led by Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham for the Church Growth Research Programme.
Download File

Church Growth: Amalgamations, Team Ministries and the Growth of the Church (Strand 3c)
An analysis of amalgamations and team ministries – Research conducted by The Revd Dr David Goodhew (Director of Ministerial Practice at Cranmer Hall, Durham) as part of the consortium led by Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham for the Church Growth Research Programme.
Download File

New Masters Module on Church Growth from 2014

There is a new module available as part of Durham’s MA in Theology and Ministry, entitled ‘Church Growth and Decline in British Christianity, from 1945 to the Present Day’. It offers an opportunity to combine contemporary history, empirical study of what helps churches grow and decline and exploration of the various theories and theologies that offer explanations of why churches grow or shrink. The module can be combined with dissertation work, in which masters students have the opportunity to do detailed study of particular localities and questions with which they may be concerned.