References used in the Church Growth Modelling project, split into subject areas.
There are a growing number of papers that attempt to use mathematics to examine church growth.
For someone new to the field, Eddie Gibbs “I Believe in Church Growth” remains a good introduction, even though many years old. Rick Warren‘s “The Purpose Driven Church”, is the classic church growth book and hugely influential.
Revival is a term commonly used within the Christian Church to describe an infusion of spiritual life into those who believe, resulting in the substantial growth of the church. To understand the nature of revival in terms of its biblical and historical contexts, read “Revival: A People Saturated by God” by Brian Edwards and “Revival” by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
System dynamics was pioneered in the 1960s by Jay W Forrester whose books still provide penetrating insights. “Business Dynamics” by John Sterman is a good technical introduction. “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge is a good introductory account to systems thinking suitable for a lay audience.
The sociology of religion had a paradigm shift in the second half of the 20th century. The older view championed secularization theory which claimed the religion’s importance would wither away as society became more developed. The newer view is that religion not only survives but flourishes in modern society. The newer works provide many insights into the state of the church and its growth from a sociologist’s viewpoint. Christians would find Kelley‘s book: “Why Conservative Churches are Growing” a profitable read, even though it is many years old.
There are other forms of diffusion in society apart from the spread of an infectious disease. Diffusion models are used extensively in marketing, the spread of technological innovation, and social phenomena such as riots, binge drinking, bulimia and rumours.
An epidemic occurs when an infectious disease spreads rapidly through a population. Epidemiology, the study of the spread of diseases, is a well developed academic discipline with high mathematical content. The original mathematical paper was by Kermack and McKendrick in 1927, which forms the basis for the Limited Enthusiasm model of church growth. The book by Anderson and May is the subject’s definitive work.