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How are growing churches engaging with social issues?

Does social action help churches grow?

Do people grow as disciples as they connect with others through social action?

The GRA:CE Project is exploring these questions, and more, through an exciting three-year programme of research exploring the relationship between social action, discipleship and church growth in the Church of England. It aims to provide an enriching combination of learning, challenge, and encouragement, opening up fresh conversations about what it means for churches to seek fullness of life for our communities and society at a time of socio-economic change and uncertainty.

Latest GRA:CE Project video – Bestop Kitchen

Church Urban Fund, Theos, and the Church of England are working in partnership on this research programme. Our project title, GRA:CE, stands for growth, relationships and action in the Church of England. It also serves as a reminder of the message of unconditional love that is at the heart of the Christian faith, and of the way in which we are to treat one another as human beings, each of great and equal value and dignity.

The project combines qualitative and quantitative research to explore the questions above, and more. The first phase of the empirical research involves interviews and participant observation in more than 60 parishes across England, covering a wide diversity of church traditions, contexts, and sizes. This will be followed by survey-based research to identify key trends and patterns at a national level.

Our aim is that the GRA:CE project will provide an enriching combination of learning, challenge, and encouragement for the church, as well as providing robust and insightful evidence about its activities to wider audiences.

You can read some emerging stories from the project below. More in-depth discussion of the research themes can be found on the Research and Policy blog, and on the Theos blog. If you would like to get in touch about the research please contact Hannah Rich.

The GRA:CE project has been made possible by the generosity of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust and The Hartham Church Charitable Trust.

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Callington Cluster

Callington Cluster is a group of five churches across four rural parishes in South East Cornwall, which work together as a team ministry. The cluster spans a whole swathe of the Cornish countryside, taking in rural towns, large villages and tiny hamlets...

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GRA:CE Project Update

Progress so far:

Over the past 18 months, we have conducted qualitative fieldwork in over 65 case study parishes. This has included interviewing over 300 individuals, including clergy, congregation members, volunteers and stakeholders from the wider community, as well as observing social action projects.

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