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Clergy in Growing Churches

The Church is good at producing statistics. We count Sunday attendance. We record parish giving. At a diocesan level, we note the number of ordinations each year. But we’re less good at noticing what causes what. What makes a congregation grow, or give, or produce vocations?

Statisticians will tell you, though, that it’s almost impossible to prove any kind of causation. However, we can look for correlations. For example, tall people tend to weigh more, but that doesn’t mean that someone’s weight is always caused by their height. Weight is dependent on other factors, too. In Christian ministry, we might not always know what causes church growth – the Spirit blows where it wills – but we can begin looking to see what things are often present when a church is growing.

A few years ago, I decided to do just that. Almost all clergy have diocesan reviews. These involve members of the parish giving feedback about their vicars. So, I looked at the clergy who were working in growing churches. Were people saying the same kinds of things about clergy who were working in growing churches? Unsurprisingly they were. In fact, there were ten things that were said time and time again.

This doesn’t prove that clergy who are like this will automatically grow churches. But these characteristics might prove a useful self-help check-list for clergy who are hoping to see growth. Of course, all this was from a pre-pandemic world. I wonder what people would say about their clergy in an online world.

Here is the list:

  1. They like people, have good personal skills and are positive.
  2. They are out and about, engaging with the local community.
  3. They communicate effectively in a way that is relevant.
  4. They are passionate about their own faith.
  5. They have a vision for growth.
  6. They work well with all ages, especially with children.
  7. They provide worship in a variety of styles to suit different people.
  8. They work collaboratively.
  9. They don’t get bogged down by administration.
  10. They run nurture courses.

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