I have been watching Reverse Missionaries on the good old BBC. I'm grateful that they have put such a program on particularly as the voice over is not disparaging. And it shows the impact of missionaries who followed Gods vision for them.
However, the beginning of each programme it shows a church that is defeatist. It won't work here! When we're gone there won't be a church!
I just wondered if this is what you see in your local churches.
Thanks Stevo and Greg for your replies and for refusing to open that can of worms! Bless you.
It's an interesting time for the church in the UK at the moment - on the one hand we have swathes of the Church of England closing down, looking increasingly irrelevant, beautiful ancient buildings populated with 20 congregation members (or less), all over the age of 55... and on the other hand we have vibrant church growth, the Alpha Course (whatever you think about it, it is enormously effective in introducing people to Christ - last term I helped lead a small group of four people; two became Christians and the other two are still exploring so have joined one of our regular church small groups), Soul Survivor, worshipcentral...
One of the things about the C of E that's of particular interest for me at the moment is the way that training for ordination has changed - there's a relatively new (about 5 years old) institution called St Mellitus, which is training people in more dynamic and integrated way than the conventional academic model, and it is attracting an entirely different category of people - not that there's anything wrong with anyone who goes to other colleges, but just in my very limited personal acquaintance I can name a City analyst for the ratings agency Standard & Poors, a former head of UK marketing for a major fast food chain, a former Marine, a high-flying lawyer, and several worship pastors (including Tim Hughes and Al Gordon), children's pastors and youth workers.... all really quality, dynamic people with a massive range of gifts and experience, and all in various stages of training for ordained ministry within the C of E, and all doing that through St Mellitus. It's unlikely that many of them would be going forward for ordination if St Mellitus didn't exist. And even though it's just one training institution, it's growing all the time and within 10-15 years will I reckon have substantially changed the nature of church leadership within the C of E.
Sorry to sound like an advert for the place, but I'm hoping to start training there myself in September (big interview coming up at the end of May)... There is most definitely hope for the church in the UK - check out http://leadershipconference.htb.org.uk/ for another example of how things are changing - this event simply wouldn't happen in this country 10 years ago.
That's pretty cool, thanks for sharing. I once attended an Episcopal church in Texas for a period of time. It was headed by a very dynamic rector who had been ordained Southern Baptist, but felt a tug to help change things within the Episcopal church since so many of the congregations were marginalized and not gospel oriented. It was quite refreshing - ironically, all the prayer books and literature was solid at the time, so just having a pastor who loved the Lord was great. I never knew that denomination could be Christ centered.
Thanks - and the worms are sealed.
The Good News of Christ will find its way through faithful, devoted followers. Organizations come and go; when I was young, no one dreamed that one day U.S.Steel and Panam would go out of business. But people still make things out of steel and fly airplanes across the seas. As bad as the Washington Senators (baseball) were, when they went out of business someone had to resurrect them as the Nationals, just to give the badness more continuity.
You describe some ways in which the Pruned Church is putting forth new buds that may well invigorate the C of E. Over here, there are church institutions that were started as vigorous new denominations less than 100 years ago that are already creaking with standard old-age ailments, and they are in heavy self-examination ("Why does our overseas denomination multiply exponentially, while we are static at home?" " ...uh, well, why do we have offices which exist merely to maintain such statistics?"). I wouldn't be surprised if folks here start opening up those Alpha boxes they got several years ago but they dismissed as "too liberal". In the middle 60's teenagers, disillusioned with the world and the church, began picking up those dust-covered Bibles off their parents' coffee tables and a whole new revival was born.
alpha box? I get the idea, but don't know what that is.
Greg are you referring to the Alpha Course? For anyone who's not familiar with it, it's a Christian basics course that started at Holy Trinity, Brompton Road in London about 15-20 years ago, and has now been done by over 18 million people worldwide.
And yes, some people do have theological issues with it, particularly the emphasis on the word of the Holy Spirit, or the particular presentation of the atonement etc... But a really interesting feature is how it has been taken up by a massive variety of churches - Graham Tomlin (Dean of St Mellitus, mentioned in my previous post) wrote this fascinating post on Alpha and ecumenicism http://grahamtomlin.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/alpha-most-effective-ecu... - of course for some people the idea of gathering in a room with a bunch of Catholic nuns, Pentecostal pastors, Orthodox bishops, etc etc would make them break out in a cold sweat which would be another reason they don't like Alpha :)
For more on the course in general have a look at www.alpha.org
I did the Alpha course a few years ago and loved it. It was one of the things that brought about church unity in the small towm where I live, so it was very positive in that respect.
Not long ago, I listened to a terrific testimony of a lady who had received conversion through the Alpha course and hasn't looked back since!
Matt - Thanks for the info & links!
The parishioner who showed us some of the materials brought them in a largish box; there was some excitement, but the church got going in other directions, good directions, but I never saw the box again. it's probably still there in my former church, on a shelf.
I don't want open the evolution Pandora's box either. However I wonder if people who do argue this, often have "all the facts", or at least the modern, up-to-date versions. I think the best book I've recently read on this is Lee Strobell's Case for Creation. *IF* anyone is looking for more info (vs. a debate), I'd seriously have a read.
At least it will give you some updated info on things like "Intelligent Design", "Cambrian explosion" and possible issues with the "Drake Equation". I'd at least suggesting reading this book before you cement any of your notions. Although it's very very technical (with Lee's best efforts to put everything in layman's terms).
I have my opinions, but I don't want launder them here. Just wanted to offer a resource to anyone whose looking for more information.
Just had a quick peek on sample on YouTube. While I'm not from the UK, I actually don't doubt this is happening not just in the UK, but around the world.
Here in Canada, I serve and attend an ethnic Baptist Church (Chinese). Way way back, many years ago the land which we built our church on was given to us for a $1 from our neighbor a establish Baptist Church, so we could build a building that would assist us with our ministry. It was an amazing gift, since in today's $ I don't we'd be able to afford this prime real-estate. Now fast forward about 25 years, we outgrew the land, so we bough two more small houses next, which we converted into Sunday school rooms, then later levels so we could expand our building. We now house 5 services split between English Speaking, Cantonese Speaking and Mandarin Speaking congregations. I think between all 3 congregations we probably have close to a 1,000 people come through our doors every Sunday.
However, unfortunately, the church next door is suffering. At the low point, I think they have barely double-digit for their single Sunday Server. The congregation was much like shot of small church in season 1, episode 1 where there were only one row of members, all very elderly. To be honest, it was a sad state, as the church was being rented out during the week to help offset costs, couldn't really afford a full-time minister and was in very realistic risk of being closed and sold off.
Over the last few years we've instituted a program where we've seeded few young families next store to offer a more permanent solution. That's very much a on-going process, but for the meantime, the talks of selling the church seems to have been put on hold.
However, while there are a lot of macro-reason why this might have happened to this once-thriving church, from what I've gathered, there are many micro-reasons why this happened here. The most crucial is that this church just didn't keep up with the times. They had a very strict policy of organ lead hymns and basically just never changed. Those who wanted change were forced to leave and look elsewhere. Eventually the core, which was the majority, never adapted and over time literally aged and went to be with the Lord.
It's all very sad. Churches need to stay relevant (be in the world), but not compromise (be of the world). I think that would apply anywhere in the world.