Modern Believing

Baptism Policy and Church Growth in Church of England Rural, Urban and Suburban Parishes

Modern Believing (1996), 37, (3), 11–24.


This study employs multiple regression analysis to examine the comparative strength of Anglican churches in England which operate an open or a restrictive baptismal policy in three different geographical contexts, utilizing samples of 1,553 churches in villages and rural communities, 983 churches in urban communities and 584 churches in suburban communities. The data demonstrate that, while baptismal policy is irrelevant to the number of adults who attend services on a normal Sunday in urban and suburban churches, a restrictive baptismal policy is reflected in smaller Sunday congregations in rural areas. In all three geographical areas, an open baptismal policy is a significant predictor of wider contact with fringe church members through such opportunities as festival communicants. In all three geographical areas, an open baptismal policy leads to more young people and more adults seeking the sacrament of confirmation.

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Author details

Francis, Leslie

Jones, Susan

Lankshear, David