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Title: A critical and theological examination of attitudes and behaviours towards mission, leadership and organisational structures in large growing churches in the UK
Author: Andrews, Scott M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 5394
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2014
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BACKGROUND In 2006 there were over 48,000 local churches in the UK with a combined membership of over 5.7 million people. Church Trends data identifies that there has been a consistent decline in local church attendance across most denominations in the UK for the past 70 years, but in contrast large churches of more than 700 members have demonstrated growth that in many cases has been sustained for more than ten years. There is an underlying assumption that long term sustained growth is a positive attribute and an outward sign that the local church is functioning well. This research provides a critical review of large churches in the UK, which explores different explanations for local church growth, including attitudes, habits and approaches to mission, leadership and organisational structures. METHODS The research was undertaken through two phases of study: Phase 1 - the literature review which examines contemporary attitudes towards mission, leadership and local church organisation; and Phase 2 - the development and analysis of case studies based in large churches in the UK that have sustained growth over ten years and demonstrated a variety of different models and approaches to local church organisation. A replication approach was employed to undertake multi-case research in order to collect and analyse data using informed and multi-disciplinary frameworks. Four local church leaders including the senior leader and the head of operations were interviewed for each of the eight case churches. Each participant agreed to undertake leadership evaluations and self perception inventories. Data from each case study was then compared and contrasted. Of the eight case churches, six had sustained growth and two served as non-sustained comparisons. DISCUSSION and CONCLUSIONS The local churches that had not sustained consistent growth were more likely to be attractional in orientation, did not employ explicit missional language or intentional holistic missional practices, and were poor at gathering and evaluating metrics on church attendance. The large churches that had demonstrated sustained growth over a period of at least ten years were more likely to adopt a missional orientation, employed seniors leaders and a leadership team with an extensive length of tenure ; and were prepared to undertake multiple adaptations of church structures and organisational practice in order to maintain a capacity for sustained growth. These local churches plan with growth in mind. Senior leaders of large growing local churches in the UK are highly relational , strategic thinkers, capable of demonstrating a blend of personal humility and professional will; and who tend to exhibit a pragmatic learning style. By contrast operations managers tend to exhibit more reflective and activist-type learning styles. In each case, the senior staff, the leadership teams and the senior leader adopted functions akin to diakonos, presbyteros and episkopos in support of its lay members. The structures and organisational approaches adopted by large churches are entirely context specific, but in most cases are established to facilitate a mandate for mission.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available