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Church Growth Modelling

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Model Results

Growth Limited by Lack of Supply


Related Models

Supply and Demand

Church supplies religion according to size. Unbelieving society demands religion according to size.

Related Blog

Limits to Growth - Part 1

Comparison of Constant Demand and Supply and Demand models.

Constant Demand Model

The central hypothesis of the constant demand model is that a church does no work to recruit members but relies on a constant demand in society, a fixed number of people coming to church each year. Although there is demand for religion, the church puts no effort into supplying the demand, or into creating it.

In addition, losses to the church, whether deaths or people leaving, are at a constant rate per person.

The model predicts a limit to the growth of the church, with growth slowing as the limit is reached.

This is a metaphorical model whose purpose is to illustrate limits to church growth.

Assumptions

The model consists of one group of people: Church, either a single congregation, or a local group of congregations, or a denomination. Church may be measured by attendance or membership.

The dynamic hypotheses are:


Dynamic Hypothesis
Description

Constant demand from society for church/religion. No effort is made by church members to contact people in society to bring them to church. Thus the size of the church has no effect on the number who come to church. The constant demand for church in society may be due to fixed actions of the church, such as advertising. It may also reflect a constant demand for the type of religion offered by the church.
People leave church at a constant proportional rate (B). This includes people giving up the church, and deaths. The reason people leave are personal, thus the rate is proportional to the church size, i.e. "per capita".
Unlimited pool of unbelievers. The size of society outside the church is infinite, thus providing no limit to church growth.

Births are ignored. People who leave the church do not return.


Flows

Unbelievers are added to the church at a constant rate. Church members leave at a constant rate per person. Thus people stay in church for a constant average length of time.

system dynamics model of limited enthusiasm

Without the loop B the church would increase steadily through the constant demand, the flow "come to church". With B the feedback: more church, more leave, thus less church, gives exponential deceleration. Thus growth halts when the number leaving rises to match the demand.


Model Parameters

The behaviour of the model is controlled by a number of parameters that reflect the church's effectiveness, and the response of society:


Parameter
Description

come to church This is the number of unbelievers who join the church each year. This is society's demand for the religion of the church.
leaving rate The fraction of church members who leave each year.

Results of the Constant Demand Model

Church starts by growing, but growth slows until a limit is reached when the number leaving matches the number joining.

See Constant Demand Results.

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Church Growth Modelling