Playfully Serious

Who conducted this research?

This research was conducted during 2017-2018 by the following members of Church Army’s Research Unit. (See Who we are for team pictures and details of members’ backgrounds.)

Claire Dalpra was involved in the leading of the whole project throughout its two-year process. She co-ordinated the different strand leaders, helped collect statistical data, facilitated the focus group research and compiled the Discipleship Definitions and Messy Church Maturity background research papers. She also designed, facilitated and analysed data from the creative image-based qualitative research with adult and child attenders, written up in What Goes on Inside. Fiona Tweedie joined the team in the second year of the project. In the report Painting With Numbers, she analysed and wrote up statistical findings collected by telephone survey on the Messy Churches sampled. (The earlier stages of work – creating the random stratified sample, database design, monitoring ongoing data collection – were conducted by Elspeth McGann before taking maternity leave.)

Elspeth McGann led the small-scale follow-on research into what happens around and after Messy Churches finish. Data collected for this, as well as relevant statistical findings from the wider sample, were subsequently analysed and written up by Andy Wier in the report Messy Lifespan.

Isaac Stovell joined the team in the second year of the project, collecting statistical data, transcribing focus group recordings, analysing data with NVivo, authoring articles and writing up Managing the Mess. In addition, he co-facilitated the creative research with adult and child Messy Church attenders and did final polishing of write-up around leavers written up in Messy Leavers. The earlier stages of this work were conducted by John Vivian who designed, facilitated and analysed the small piece of research with leavers before his departure to study full-time for a PhD. 

Before retirement in 2017, George Lings led on the initial desk-based study to inform the research questions about church maturity for the statistical data and helped with data collection. For the second year of the project, Tim Ling took over as Director of Research, collecting statistical data, liaising with the Church Commissioners and leading on the communications plan to disseminate findings as widely as possible.

Andrew Wooding collected statistical data, transcribed audio recordings and provided administrative support at all stages of the project including website work. Dave Lovell, the most recent addition to the team, created supporting graphics to accompany statistical findings.

Our sincere thanks to all research participants who were involved in any and all stages of this research project.

Church Army’s vision is for everyone everywhere to encounter God’s love and be empowered to transform their communities through faith shared in words and action.

Our Research Unit exists to help the Church in the British Isles and Ireland more fully realise how God is active in mission and to grow in understanding as to why churches’ participation may falter or flourish. We work towards this through the provision of excellent and innovative research and consultancy that seeks to address these questions.