What Helps Christians Grow? An Exploratory Study Distinguishing among Four Distinctive Pathways

  • Leslie J. FrancisEmail author
  • Simon Foster
  • David W. Lankshear
  • Ian Jones


This study draws on a detailed survey completed by 1,123 churchgoers attending churches within the West Midlands region of England in order to identify indicators of Christian growth and distinctive pathways to growth. Factor and reliability analyses distinguished between two indicators of Christian growth (depth of discipleship and strength of vocation) and four distinctive pathways to growth (growth through group activity, growth through Christian experience, growth through church worship, and growth through public engagement). Regression analyses, taking into account individual differences in sex, age, education, church support, and challenges to faith, identified growth through Christian experience as the most important factor in helping Christians grow, while public engagement added weight to depth of discipleship and group activities added weight to strength of vocation. The implications of these findings are discussed for future research and for discipleship learning programs within the church.


Christian formation Discipleship learning Empirical theology Congregation studies 



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie J. Francis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Simon Foster
    • 2
  • David W. Lankshear
    • 3
  • Ian Jones
    • 2
  1. 1.Warwick Religions & Education Research Unit, Centre for Education StudiesThe University of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.St. Peter’s Saltley TrustBirminghamUK
  3. 3.The University of WarwickCoventryUK

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