Church Leadership Foundations, Research on Effective Churches

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Research on Effective Churches

Part of the Ministry Resource Guide on Church Leadership, Renewal, and Development.


Many materials on church leadership and renewal are based on the experience of one church. The assumption is that what worked in one setting may work in others, so the method is systematized and set forth as a reproducible strategy. Others are based on research of several churches, but the small sampling of congregations limits its applicability to churches with vastly different demographics. The temptation is to view these studies mechanistically, as if to say, “If you do this, it will result in a great church, just like it did in these cases.”

There is another genre of congregational research that is more helpful. Not only is the research conducted very responsibly, sometimes with independent audits of the method and findings, but the general implications for all churches are drawn with more humility and caution.

The following list highlights a few of the best recent studies on effective congregations. I have divided them by Evangelical and Mainline Protestant because although there is some overlap, these resources aim toward a specific audience. Books are listed in suggested order under each category.

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Resources, Evangelical

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Resources, Protestant

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