Church Growth in Britain: 1980 to the Present

There has been substantial church growth in Britain between 1980 and 2010. This is the controversial conclusion from the international team of scholars, who have drawn on interdisciplinary studies and the latest research from across the UK. This book demonstrates that, whilst decline is happening in some parts of the church, this needs to be balanced by recognition of the vitality of large swathes of the Christian church in Britain.

‘Church Growth in Britain is a welcome and well researched challenge to the widespread assumption that Christianity in Britain is suffering terminal decline. Without pretending that there is no significant demise in some areas or that its findings will not provoke robust debate, the “mosaic of micro-studies” in this book illustrates the vitality, depth and breath of Christianity within the United Kingdom. Its central thesis certainly reflects what I witness when visiting the parishes of the Archdiocese of Westminster. For there I see people’s faith shaping their everyday lives such that Christ is truly present in the streets of our land.’ Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

‘Church Growth in Britain is a timely book with a polemic point.  Contrary to received wisdom, David Goodhew and his associates argue that Christianity is thriving in Britain-but Christianity of sorts that fall under conventional radar screens. The book will draw cheers from the minority of like-minded observers, serious critical attention from a broad middle, and no doubt counterattacks from the sociological and religious establishments whose standpoints are attacked. Yet the book’s most telling observations are made only partly through pointed argument and mostly through calm and informative case studies of overlooked churches.’ R. Stephen Warner, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

‘What I particularly liked about this book was the way it brought out, in serious historical perspective, the very different situations in which churches find themselves according to particular environments and the kinds of strategies that revive growth. The divinity lies in the detail and there is much genuine divinity in this volume.’ David Martin, Emeritus Professor, and Fellow of the British Academy

‘We have needed a wide-ranging academic book on church growth for a long time – and now we have one. Church growth is not just a subject for “how to” books, and here we have careful, evidenced work to encourage further reflection and action. This is a wise and timely study.’ The Rt Revd John Pritchard, The Bishop of Oxford, UK

‘During the last thirty years we have all become familiar with shrinking congregations and churches closing. But few people realise that the same period has seen the opening of several thousand new churches across the UK. And while the larger denominations have all lost members, other smaller denominations, as well as many independent congregations have grown. This fascinating collection of case-studies shows how and where this has happened, and suggests why. It also provides a convincing account of how the nature of religion in our country has changed as a result.’ Hugh McLeod, Emeritus Professor, University of Birmingham, UK

‘It is commonly supposed that the Christian church in Britain is moribund, but the essays in this volume all demonstrate, from different angles, that in the recent past there are signs of vitality and growth.  Nor is the vigour confined to new churches, for mainstream bodies have also partipated in the upward trend here depicted with scholarly care.’ David Bebbington, University of Stirling, UK

‘I have been waiting for someone to write this book!’  Rodney Stark, Baylor University, USA

‘This book tells us the untold story of church growth in this country over the last thirty years.  It’s scholarly, easy to read, and full of hope and optimism. It did my heart good to read … I thoroughly recommend it to you.’ Revd Canon Roger Simpson, Archbishop’s Evangelist to the North

Church Growth in Britain: 1980 to the present is edited by David Goodhew, who is an Anglican priest and Director of Ministerial Practice at Cranmer Hall, an Anglican theological college which is part of St John’s College, Durham. A former fellow and chaplain of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and an experienced parish priest, he has published widely in the field of modern British church history and South African history, including the first monograph-length study of a South African township, Respectability and Resistance: a History of Sophiatown.

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