Church of England — the decline will last at least 30 years

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Between 2012 and 2014, the proportion of Britons identifying themselves as Anglican dropped from 21% to 17%–a fall of about 1.7 million people.

Over the same period, the number of Muslims in Britain grew by nearly one million.

Previously the church hoped to turn the decline around within five years. Now it’s 30 years — at least.

The Church of England is facing at least another 30 years of decline according to internal projections revealed for the first time.

Even if it sees an influx of young people to services, the sheer numbers of older worshippers dying in the next few decades mean it is unlikely to see any overall growth in attendances until the middle of this century, officials now believe.

The stark calculations were revealed during discussions at the Church’s decision-making General Synod, which has been meeting in London, about ambitious plans to tackle declining numbers.

It is preparing to pump £72 million into a “reform and renewal” drive which includes plans to ordain 6,000 more clergy in the 2020s to build a younger priesthood which is less male dominated and less white.

So approaching the year 2050, after generations of decline, the Anglican church will somehow spring back to life.

Jeff Sundell, Troy Cooper and Ray Vaughn training in Houston, April 21-23

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Jeff Sundell, Troy Cooper and Ray Vaughn will be training in Houston April 21-23, 2016 at Woodsedge Community Church

What can a movement pioneer do in a city of 6.5 million?

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How do you reach a city like Houston of 6.5 million people?

That was my first question to Ray Vaughn, a movement pioneer just after congratulating him on marrying Sara (photo).

The headings are mine, the quotes are taken from his interview for the Movements podcast.

1. Begin with the end in mind—reaching the whole city. If you act like a team leader you’ll only see what you and your team can do.

We’re starting out with a macro strategy and then moving to a micro strategy. What that means is I could take my team of full-timers and just plug into an apartment complex and say, “OK, let’s go sharing, let’s try and start groups and churches and see how we can get those to multiply and increase,” but then that just makes me a team leader. As a team leader into one area that’ll be a good start but that’s not going to reach the city or see movement.

2. Train and mobilise existing believers, existing churches and form them into teams.

Instead, what does it look like, on a macro level, to start training as many people as we can on every spectrum that we can, whether it’s African Americans, Spanish-speakers or Arabic-speaking churches or people or groups, just any possible person, we’d like to train them and start mobilizing multiple teams into the harvest—that is our macro strategy

So for these next one and a half years, we’re really going to be just training, training, training any person that we can, just to get them into the harvest in a particular area, sharing the gospel, to where that becomes the norm for the culture here, as well as not just sharing the gospel and getting them to Fields 1 and 2 (connecting and sharing the gospel), but then Field 3—discipling them in their homes, in their workplaces or coffee shops or wherever it is and then, of course, forming churches around those people.

3. Keep leading by example

So that’s the clarity that’s in my head as far as how we’re attacking the city of Houston right now. We’re training existing networks, existing churches, pre-existing believers and of course we’re also simultaneously in the harvest every day, sharing, looking for people of peace that are brand new.

There’ll be more to come from my interview with Ray. Thanks to Janet for transcribing the podcast!

Leave China, Study in America, Find Jesus

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More than 304,000 Chinese studied in American colleges and universities in 2015 alone. Foreign Policy magazine reports, many are coming to faith in Christ.

Ariane Brotto, a Brazilian doctoral student at Columbia University, preaches to Chinese students despite not speaking a word of Mandarin. It started in 2012, when a young Chinese man in her laboratory kept asking her why she seemed happier than her stressed-out peers. One afternoon, Brotto stopped him in the hallway of her laboratory building and handed him a Chinese-language Bible. After an hour, she asked the man what he thought. He responded, “I want to start a relationship with God.” Brotto thought he hadn’t understood her English correctly. But he insisted that he wanted to start praying.

We’ve seen the same thing happen in Australia and here in the UK. The great news is that ministries are engaging Chinese students. What’s missing is a strategy to send the new believers back to China as disciple makers and church planters.

 

 

108-Pioneering a City-wide Movement — Ray Vaughn

2016Ray_Vaughn.jpg Ray Vaughn (right) on what it takes to be a movement pioneer across a city. Want to get started? Want to take the next step. Ray recommends you get some training. My last interview with Ray. Connect with Ray Vaughn and support his ministry.

Training opportunities.

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Why Nepal Has One Of The World’s Fastest-Growing Christian Populations

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NPR is trying to work out, Why Nepal Has One Of The World’s Fastest-Growing Christian Populations

Bishwa Mani Pokharel, news chief at Nepal’s Nagarik newspaper, pulls out copies of the census to show the statistical gallop of Christianity across Nepal. It listed no Christians in 1951 and just 458 in 1961. By 2001, there were nearly 102,000. A decade later that number had more than tripled to more than 375,000. Pokharel and others think the increase is really much higher but inaccurately reported.

“Before, when the Christians had a party, they slaughtered a chicken. Now, they slaughter a goat,” says Pokharel, who has been reporting on the conversions. That extra meat, he explains, is necessary to feed all of the new people who’ve joined the guest list.

Churches now mushroom throughout the Kathmandu Valley and across the terraced hills. Proselytizing remains illegal, but with political instability and weak law enforcement, that doesn’t stop it from happening.

The article focuses on what you can see above the surface. What they don’t see is that this is a grass root movement of multiplying disciples and churches. 

UPDATE: If you want to know what’s happening under the surface in Nepal, have a listen to any of the podcasts by Nathan Shank.

Multiplication Training with Jeff Sundell and friends UPDATED

Jeff Sundell teaching

Jeff Sundell is hitting the road in 2016. 

If you want to learn how multiply disciples and churches get to one of these in 2016.

UPDATE: More options for mostly US based training do whatever you can to get to one this year.

David Watson in Melbourne — April 2016

David Watson Australia 2016

David Watson, movement catalyst and author of Contagious Disciple Making will be training in Melbourne: April 4-8, 2016.

My interview with David on Contagious Disciple Making.

Praxeis is hosting and taking registrations. (I like their new look website!).

UPDATE

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Dave Lawton, seen here conducting the Praxeis Choir in the Hallelujah Chorus, has a blog.

107-Lessons from the Primitive Methodists — Dave Price [podcast]

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I’m always on the look out for case studies of dynamic movements.

In this episode, I talk to Dave Price’s blog, researcher and author of Turning the World Upside Down: Learning from The Primitive Methodist Movement.

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How to keep the birds out of your beard

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Temptations of course cannot be avoided, but because we cannot prevent the birds from flying over our heads, there is no need that we should let them nest in our hair.

Martin Luther

I received news this week of another Christian leader stood down for sexual sin. You don’t need the details.

If I was running a seminary I’d mandate one year Bible and theology, one year ministry training and one year on how not to commit adultery.

I’m now a grandfather approaching sixty. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way about faithfulness to the woman I love and the Lord I serve.

1. Nobody is safe

Seminary professors, denominational leaders, pastors of megachurches, missionaries and pastors, New Testament scholars, youth leaders, worship leaders, church planters, evangelists and counsellors, evangelicals, progressives, Spirit-filled Pentecostals, incarnated missional, organic house church leaders — I’ve known leaders of every variety to fall into sexual sin.

Last November I became a grandfather. This year I turn sixty. I’ve seen it all. Here’s what I’ve learned about staying out of trouble. Fear God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I take Jesus seriously when he says it’s better to enter heaven missing an eye or a hand than give into temptation. I pray for the fear of God every time I’m tempted.

God is gracious and forgiving, but there is a high price to pay for infidelity.

2. Forget morals, focus on ethics

It was late in the afternoon and everyone had left the office. Pastor “Harry” was in his office trying to stay awake while counselling a lady from his congregation. When it was time to finish they stood and she hugged him. It wasn’t one of those side-on hugs, it was an embrace. The moral question is what should Harry do next?

Harry would not be facing that question if he had dealt with the ethical question which was, Should Harry be counselling a woman alone in his office after everyone else had gone home?

Ethics are the safety fence at the top of the cliff. Protect yourself.

3. See them as family

Paul told Timothy to treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters with absolute purity (1 Tim 5:2). Next time you feel attracted to someone you’re not married to, think of them as family — mothers, sisters, daughters or fathers, brothers and sons. Reframe the relationship around family, not sex.

4. Open your heart to the right people

If you’re a young man I can’t see you beating sexual temptation without an accountability group with some brothers. In that group you share your needs, your temptations and you confess you sins to one another. Weekly is best, but don’t go more than a month without examining your heart in the presence of the right people. Don’t fight this alone.

5. Suffer gladly

Count the cost of following Jesus. There’s no promise that you will be sexually fulfilled. Deep needs may go unmet. You may experience loss and disappointment. Temptation feels irresistible.

What does Christ offer in exchange? Himself — now and forever. He’s worth it.