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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

Births, Deaths, Reversion and Secularisation

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 analogy is with the spread of a disease, where the enthusiasts are "infected" believers passing the faith on to unbelievers who catch the "disease" of religion.

In addition the demographics model includes births, deaths and reversion, allowing for church decline through, lack of child retention, aging and people leaving the church. The unbelievers are split into those open to conversion and those hardened, allowing for secularisation in society.

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

Opens in separate window:

Stella 9.1 model can be downloaded from

Model author: John Hayward, Church Growth Modelling.

This model can be used to investigate long term church growth or church decline. The initial population is normalised to 1. The 100 year period is fixed due to limitations in the online simulation.

This model is presented in "A General Model of Church Growth and Decline", Journal of Mathematical Sociology, Hayward, 2005, but in mathematical rather than system dynamics form.

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Church Growth Modelling