• Graham Doel

Student thesis: Phd


This qualitative study reviews and documents the activity of Church Planters within the Baptist Union of Great Britain, who have started churches between 1980 and 2010. Two periods of church planting have been identified. From 1980 to the mid 1990s practitioners reacted to the threat of decline and secularisation. From the mid 1990s to 2010 practitioners re-engaged with the missionary task of church planting, drawing on the concept of contextualisation.The difficulty of gathering statistics about church planting within the Baptist Union of Great Britain has been identified by reviewing all the available data. A qualitative study was chosen to give an in-depth analysis of the experience and perspectives of practitioners. Twelve practitioners participated in the study. Each participant was interviewed and the contents of the interview transcribed and analysed. The interviews, along with accounts of church planting from both periods has enabled the practice of planting churches to be set into context. Firstly, into the context of decline in church attendance and the developing social theory of secularisation. Secondly, into the missiological theory of contextualisation.A review of the developing theory of secularisation revealed that current research calls progressive and total secularisation into question. This research suggests that decline in religious practice is evidence of a change in general approaches to spirituality, rather than evidence of a total secularisation. The reality of church decline and the theory of secularisation paved the way for a robust approach to church planting. During this period the need for contextualisation was identified but was practised by a relocation of worship meetings to a different venue. A review of the development of contextualisation in the field of missiology was conducted. The theory of contextualisation has influenced practitioners involved in church planting from the mid 1990s to 2010. During this time practitioners took the process of contextualisation further. Rather than simply relocating their meetings they began to contextualise the content of the meeting.With these developments in mind the practice of planting churches within the Baptist Union of Great Britain has been described, along with events that have influenced church planting practice. As practitioners have engaged with the process of contextualisation it is possible to see how a missionary approach has gathered pace among the practitioners. It is appropriate for practitioners to continue the processes of learning from wider missiological perspectives and developing their own contextualised practice.
Date of Award1 Aug 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester

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