Recommended Research

This section of the website includes links to reports, summaries, reviews, and bibliographies on research into various aspects of Church Vitality: church planting and redevelopment, growth, member attraction and retention, conflict transformation, and more. Sources for this section include:

Attracting and Keeping Members (Insights into) – 2011
Author (Source): Mike McMullen (Faith Communities Today)
Description: Offers research, insights and resources to help clergy, seminarians and congregational leaders deal constructively with integrating and energizing both new and old congregational participants, an often-forgotten aspect of maintaining healthy religious communities.

The Challenge of Retention and Assimilation – 2008
Author (Source): Nathaniel Dean, et al (United Methodist Church)
Description: The findings of a study on recruiting, retaining, & assimilating members.

Church Health Indicators (Research Review) – 2005
Author (Source): Ken Howard (The Paradoxy Center)
Description: A “reverse engineering” review of the church closure portion of the church turn-around research to suggest indicators of church health.

Church, Identity and Change: Theology and Denominational Structures in Unsettled Times – 2005
Authors (Source): David A. Roozen and James R. Nieman (Hartford Institute)
Description: There is much talk today about the death of denominations. But could it be that the real issue is how denominations think about their organizations and structures?

Church Planting and Congregational Growth (Research Review) – 2008
Author (Source): Ken Howard (The Paradoxy Center)
Description: A review of current research on effective church planting and congregational growth.

Church Planting Intiative Report – June 2009
Author (Source): C. Kirk Hadaway & Adair T. Lummis (The Episcopal Church)
Description: Most dioceses reported knowing where they could start new congregations if they had the resources and leadership to do so. Many dioceses reported having a strategy for church planting. All reported needing additional funds for church planting.

Church Planting, Growth, and Turn-Arounds (Reseach Bibliography) – 2002
Author (Source): Ken Howard (The Paradoxy Center)
Description: A bibliography of research reports and summaries.

Church Turn-Arounds (Research Review) – 2000
Author (Source): Ken Howard (The Paradoxy Center)
Description: A review of the research on church turn-arounds/church closure indicators.

The Compassionate Congregation (Insights into) – 2010
Author (Source): Theresa Zingery & David Breeden (Faith Communities Today)
Description: Congregations involved in social outreach programs often discover multiple benefits: the potential for faster growth, an enhanced sense of vitality, and the satisfaction of expressing the congregation’s compassion through direct service to those in need. This publication offers research, tips and resources to help clergy, seminarians, and congregational leaders to become more actively engaged in compassionate social ministry.

Congregational Conflict (Insights into) – 2011
Author (Source): David A. Roozen (Faith Communities Today)
Description: Research-based insights into the nature of congregational conflict. It is widespread, it can be an impediment to financial vitality and growth, yet if handled appropriately, it can be an opportunity for both.

Conflict in Congregations (Research Review) – 2011
Author/Source: The Indianapolis Center for Congregations
Description: A review of research into congregational conflict, with similar results as the above study.

Congregation Size and Church Growth in the Episcopal Church – 2001
Author (Source): C. Kirk Hadaway (The Episcopal Church)
Description: Contrary to what you might have heard, small congregations are a large source of growth for the Episcopal Church.

Congregational Growth (Insights into) – 2007
Author (Source): Dirk J. Hart (Faith Communities Today)
What do joyful worship, clear purpose, multiple weekend services, and plans for growth have in common? Here’s a hint: they are among those aspects of congregational life that deserve careful attention when thinking about the challenges of numerical growth.

Congregational Vitality Report – 2010
Author (Source): Towers Watson (United Methodis Church)
Description: This report proposes a “vitality index” based on four factors: number of small groups & programs, lay leadership effectiveness, worship & preaching effectiveness, and pastoral leadership effectiveness.
Summary: Driving Factors in Congregational Vitality

A Decade of Mega-Churches – 2012
Author (Source): Warren Bird & Scott Thumma (Hartford Institute)
This report reinforces a lot of what we already knew about mega-churches, but there are a few surprizing results as well, and some things the rest of us can learn.

Episcopal Church Growth: 2005 (FACTS) – 2006
Author (Source): C. Kirk Hadaway (The Episcopal Church)
Description: The latest research on factors related to growth and decline in Episcopal Congregations shows surprizing results: conservative churches do not always grow; liberal churches do not always decline.

Episcopal Churches in the United States (Report) – 2002
Author (Source): C. Kirk Hadaway (The Episcopal Church)
Description: Factors related to congregational strength.

The Impact of Church Planting on the Local Community – 1996
Author (Source): Alan Bing (ChurchArmy)
Description: Masters degree disseration on the impact of church plants.

The Impact of the 2008 recession on American Congregations (Abstract) – 2010
Author (Source):
David A. Roozen (Faith Communities Today)
The abstracted findings of the American Congregations 2010 research study that deal with the impact of the 2008 recession. 80% of congregations report declining income. The number of troubled congregations rises 20%.

New Church Development (Research Report) – 2001
Authors (Source): C. Kirk Hadaway & Penny L. Marler (The Episcopal Church)
Description: Characteristics and growth patterns of new congregations, characteristics of their leaders, and what it takes to successfully plant a new church.

Reaching the Unchurched (Research Summary) – 2005
Author (Source): Ken Howard (The Paradoxy Center)
Description: A review of the research on the unchurched and how to reach them. Some surprising results.

Mission Funding & Fundraising in Episcopal Dioceses – 2003
Author (Source): C. Kirk Hadaway (The Episcopal Church)
Description: Great variety exists among Episcopal dioceses in financial resources and approaches to mission funding. This report provides a unique look at endowments, capital campaigns and diocesan missional priorities.

2020 Task Force Report – 2001
Chair (Source): Gethin B. Hughes (The Episcopal Church)
Description: Describes a vision, goals, and strategies for doubling the church by 2020 (includes some research on church planting and growth).

Toward Vitality Research Project – 2012
Author (Source): Kim Shockley, et al (UMC General Board of Discipleship)
Description: This recently-completed research study is still being analyzed but a number of interesting findings are available on what makes churches vital.
Summaries: Final ReportStatistical Report

Virtually Religious: Technology & Internet Use in American Congregations – 2012
Author (Source): Scott Thumma (Faith Communities Today)
Description: Describes the technological use by religious groups, identifies the factors that either aid or hinder its use, and highlight the positive outcomes for the congregation that embraces the use of technology in all its forms.


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