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The GRA:CE Project

The GRA:CE Project

The GRA:CE Project: Growth, Relationship and Action in the Church of England, led by Hannah Rich. (Upcoming)

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Theos and the Church Urban Fund are conducting a three–year research project seeking to understand the relationship between church growth, social action and discipleship within the Church of England.

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Matthew 22.37–39)

Christians are called to love God and to love neighbour – and that is precisely what churches across the country seek to do, week in week out through:

  • serving the needs of their local communities, through projects such as foodbanks, parent–toddler groups and night shelters;
  • encouraging people on a journey of faith and deepening people’s relationships with God;
  • and helping them learn to support others in their faith.

These three elements – in modern parlance: social action, discipleship and church growth – are all key to the English church in 2018.

What is the relationship between the three, however? And what would happen to church growth if we were better able to join the dots between social action and discipleship?

Theos and the Church Urban Fund are conducting a three–year research project seeking to understand the relationship between church growth, social action and discipleship within the Church of England.  

It will involve substantial primary qualitative research, gathering interviewees, observations and case studies from a diverse range of churches in terms of geography, churchmanship and demographics. This will be followed by a quantitative study drawing on analysis of the qualitative work, aiming to measure the extent of the relationship between social action and church growth. A series of ‘roadshows’ will be held across the country to meet people, hear stories and showcase the research. The project will also develop a set of responses and ‘how to’ documents for church leaders based on the research findings. Throughout the project, there will be regular blog posts to communicate the ongoing thinking and findings of the research.

Some of the questions the research will address are:

  • What are churches currently doing in terms of social action and discipleship?
  • Is social action a means by which people become part of the church?
  • What does this mean for church growth?
  • How does discipleship fit into strategies for church growth and social action?
  • How can we build on this to encourage churches in the future?

Keep up to date with progress on the GRA:CE project through our blogs here.

Get in touch with Hannah Rich – Hannah.rich@theosthinktank.co.uk – if you would like to hear more about the GRA:CE Project or would like to share examples you think we should know about. 

 

 Image by Rawpixel via Shutterstock available under this Creative Commons Licence

Hannah Rich

Hannah Rich

Hannah joined Theos in 2017. She is a Researcher exploring the relationship between church growth, social action and discipleship, together with Church Urban Fund. She has previously worked for a social innovation think tank and a learning disability charity. @hannahmerich

Communities, Evangelism, Faith, Future of Churches, GRA:CE Project, Social Action

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