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Church Growth Modelling

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Modelling Church Growth using mathematics & computer simulation.

In 1904-5 Moriah chapel was the centre of massive church growth in Wales through a God-sent revival.

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John Hayward

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Social Dynamics Research


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A Prophecy of Church Decline

The main denominations in the UK have been declining for many years. Will they continue to decline in 2017, as has been "prophesied" by one writer? Or is there any sign that growth could return? Eight UK denominations are examined comparing declining ones with the growing Pentecostal group, and one stable church. It is shown that decline is likely to continue indefinitely, but that there are valuable lessons to be learned. Blog Post.

Welcome to the website of Church Growth Modelling. This is a science website, so prepare to be challenged. Questions welcome. It is a Christian website promoting revival, so prepare to be challenged spiritually!

Agent-Based Model of Church Growth

Agent-based models describe population and social change by examining the behaviour of individual people - the agents. In an agent-based model of revival growth you can see the behaviour of individual enthusiasts passing on the faith the unbelievers. The result is infectious church growth! How does an agent-based model work? How do they help understand the growth of the church? How do they compare with system dynamics models?

Individual people are represented by a rectangular grid. Each person can influence one of 8 neighbours. There are three type of people: U, the unbelievers; E, enthusiasts, the Christians who help convert unbelievers; and B Inactive believers, the Christians who have stopped spreading the faith.
The model is the equivalent of the Limited Enthusiasm Model of Church Growth. Epidemic growth only takes place if enthusiasts are sufficiently infectious and for long enough. The model can be simulated using NetLogo software. Blog Post.

The Models - Quick Guide

Limited Enthusiasm Model.
Church grows through the activity of enthusiasts who alone are responsible for the recruitment/conversion of unbelievers into the church.
Congregational Models.
Applied to the individual congregation only. Designed to assist church leaders.
Limits to Church Growth Models.
Models to illustrate barriers to church growth.
Sociological Models.
Based on theories in the sociology of religion.
What is Church Growth?
The discipline that analyses why churches grow and decline.
Sociology, Methodology, Mathematics, Computer Simulation.
What's New?
Latest additions to website
Self Enhancing Resource Model
Agent-Based Model of an Epidemic
Institutional Model
Turchin's Model of Imperial Expansion
Informal articles:
Churches or Political Parties: Who has the Largest Membership?
Rise and Decline of Western Civilisation
Modelling Secularisation
Why Revivals Stopped in the UK
Church Growth - It's a Disease!
Enthusiasts are "contagious Christians"
Revival threshold
extinction threshold
Limited Enthusiasm - Revival
Understanding the dynamics of revival by analogy with the spread of a disease.
Revival growth threshold - how a small number of enthusiasts can make a big difference.
Church of England Decline
Limited enthusiasm with demographics applied to Church of England attendance data
What will it take for the church to survive?
Limits to Church Growth
What limits the growth of congregations? Lack of demand, lack of supply by the churches?
A variety of models to explore possible limits to church growth.
Limited enthusiasm with inactive believers renewed.
Renewal not evangelism is key to church growth.
Critical mass.
1904/5 Welsh Revival & Spiritual Life
Application of the Spiritual Life model to the last big revival in Wales.
Religion is modelled as a disease of variable infectiousness depending on the spiritual life of the church, spread by enthusiasts.
Under the Bonnet
What is "modelling"? What lies underneath a dynamical model - the technical details that get it to work?
Overview of modelling methodologies.
Introduction to system dynamics & agent based modelling.

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Church Growth Modelling