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Church Growth Modelling

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Principles of Revival Growth

1904-5 Welsh Revival

Blog on Nagaland Revival

Model Construction

Limited Enthusiasm Model

The model of short-term revival growth, based on the analogy with the spread of a disease. The enthusiasts are the "infected" believers passing on the faith, only doing so for a limited period of time.

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Limited Enthusiasm Model

Related Results

Growth Through Renewal

Growth Through Spiritual Life

Long Term Growth

Nagaland Revival 1976-1982

Application of the Limited Enthusiasm Model

Edwin Orr (2000) describes a revival in Nagaland India where the Baptist church rose from 130,000 in 1976 to about 200,000 in 1982. The converts were largely drawn from the nominal Christian community of Nagaland. At the time of the revival the state was largely closed to outsiders due to tensions with the Indian government, thus the revival was a purely internal affair.

The Baptist church membership data, obtained by Edwin Orr, was as follows:

Year 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1982
Membership 132,495 134,682 162,000 179,047 188,779 209,382 220,617

The simulation is started in 1976 as there is only a small amount of growth from 1975. The 1979 data is excluded as it is lower than expected.

A simulation of the model shows a reproduction potential of around 1.46 with an enthusiastic period of around 6 months. This is a much longer enthusiastic period than the 1904/5 Welsh revival, which explains why the Nagaland revival lasted so much longer.

The revival made a huge impact on the growth of the church, as seen by the reduction in the number of unbelievers (following graph). The nature of the revival is that in 1976 the church stated with a large number of enthusiasts, who reached their peak in 1977 (graph below), even though most of the growth was after that date. Thus the revival appeared to be different to the normal pattern which only starts with a few enthusiasts and takes time to build. In this sense the enthusiasm was skewed towards the beginning of the revival, with much of the converts due to that initial enthusiastic momentum.

The skewed nature of the revival is also seen in the following graph, which shows the reproduction potential above the threshold for only one year after the start of the revival (indicated by the arrow). Once a sufficient number of unbelievers were converted the threshold rose above the reproduction potential and the revival growth slowed.

An attempt was made to fit the Limited Enthusiasm model to the data from 1975, but no satisfactory fit could be found. That leaves the question as to the origin of a large number of enthusiasts in 1976, given there had been little church growth before that year. There are at least three possibilities:

  1. (1) Between 1975 and 1976 a small number of enthusiasts made many enthusiasts from the inactive believers - the renewal process;
  2. (2) Between those dates the spiritual life of the enthusiasts was building, raising the reproduction potential until it tipped the church into revival and produced a large number of enthusiasts;
  3. (3) There was a sudden mass baptism with the Holy Spirit of a many inactive believers between 1975 and 1976 - a Nagaland Pentecost.

Further details on the blog post Nagaland Revival.

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Church Growth Modelling