Growing and Flourishing
GROWING AND FLOURISHING
The Ecology of Church Growth
Stephen SpencerA case study in church growth in the Diocese of Mara
This small book contains some big intercontinental research! Stephen Spencer is an established theological educator and is now director for Theological Education in the Anglican Communion, and he has special links with Tanzania. Here he describes vividly a case study in church growth in the Diocese of Mara where churches have been planted and grown successfully. To what extent does the successful model in Mara provide a blueprint for church growth in UK? He describes the diocese of Mara as he experienced it, an area that had experienced three years of drought and poverty but has also seen amazing spiritual growth in its churches. How and why did growth happen in Mara? He collects details of the process that led to growth in Mara and runs them through the lens of Dulles’ ‘Models of the Church’ and goes on to apply to it Helen Cameron’s insights into the different forms of organisation found within different kinds of churches. Along the way he consults material from the Decade of Evangelism, and Kenneth Moynagh’ s work on Fresh Expressions of being church. What emerges is a chart of three stages of growth, each stage having six dimensions to it, all based on how success happened in Mara. The final chapters of the book apply these findings to church growth in UK. Spencer’s conclusions explore how after- school clubs, messy church and godly play all get so far, but do not quite reach the ultimate goal of church growth. He turns to Bosch who said that ‘What matters is not the growth of the churches but the growth of God’s kingdom.’ Therefore, if we really want kingdom growth then sometimes the old has to fade away in order for the new to replace it. They managed it in Mara - can we manage it here?
Reviewed by Christine McMullen
Church and Ministry Development
Are available from the CRC Office.