The Church of England has started 2012 in research overdrive. Having stated on 3 January that it intends to ‘listen to England’ through the launch of twin projects to examine and enhance its ministry at the moments of birth and death, as noted at http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2012/listening-to-england/, it announced on 11 January that it is seeking bids to undertake an 18-month project into church growth.
To this end, advertisements have been placed in the Church of England Newspaper and The Times Higher Education and on ReligiousJobsite.com, inviting ‘interested parties to tender for an exciting research programme investigating factors relating to spiritual and in particular numerical church growth within the Church of England’. The research will comprise three main strands:
- extensive analysis of existing church attendance and other data to test hypotheses around factors relevant to church growth
- in depth profiling of a sample of growing churches (from a wide variety of contexts and traditions) and a randomly selected control group
- a study of factors relating to growth at cathedrals, church planting and the impact of amalgamation of benefices and the use of different patterns of deployment of ministers
Consortium bids from researchers (including those with significant expertise in quantitative methods), church growth experts and those familiar with Church of England structures are especially encouraged. It is possible to bid for a particular strand or strands of the programme as well as to undertake the programme as a whole. Any team submitting a proposal to carry out the complete research will need to take a mixed methods approach, including statistical analysis and qualitative fieldwork.
Further details and a copy of the full invitation to tender are available from Kevin Norris (strategy and policy consultant to the Church and Community Fund) at Church House, Westminster by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning 0207 898 1767. The closing date for the receipt of tenders is 17 February 2012, with presentations from shortlisted contractors to take place in late February or early March.
In its press release, the Church of England explained that the project ‘is based on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s strategic goals to the new General Synod in 2010 – to take forward spiritual and numerical growth in the CofE for all communities’, and that it forms part of ‘a wider area of work around research and development (2011-13)’.