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Church Growth Modelling

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Model Construction

Demographics Model

This model of long-term growth, is an extension of the Limited Enthusiasm model which includes births, deaths, reversion and recycling.

Model Results

Principles of Church Growth

Principles of Church Decline

Church of England 2001-2012

Southern Baptist 1980-2012

Simulate Online

Limited Enthusiasm with Demographics

Church of England 1979-1998

UK New Churches 1990-2000

Demographics Model Simulation

Church of England 1979-1998

The central hypothesis of the limited enthusiasm model is that conversion growth in the church is driven by a sub-group of church members called enthusiasts. The demographics model adds births, deaths, reversion and secularisation.

This model is the simulation in "A General Model of Church Growth and Decline", Journal of Mathematical Sociology, Hayward, 2005. It was achieved by optimising four parameters next to survey data from Christian Research, 1979, 1989, 1998. The four parameters are the reproduction potential, the duration enthusiastic, the reversion rates (set equal) and the initial fraction of the church enthusiast. The optimised parameter values appear in the first line of table 1 in the paper.

At that point the Church of England was well under the extinction threshold. By 2009 the estimates had changed to it just avoiding extinction. Data to 2012 suggests that optimism has not been maintained.

The model was developed with system dynamics and implemented in "Stella" produced by ISEE Systems. The online simulation is hosted by Forio Simulate.

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Stella 9.1 model can be downloaded from

Model author: John Hayward, Church Growth Modelling.

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Church Growth Modelling