Episcopalian

Southern Baptists vs United Methodists

2016 Mark Tooley.jpg

Mark Tooley challenges the conventional wisdom that evangelicalism should become more progressive to prevent its decline.

The popular conventional narrative asserts that young people in droves are quitting evangelical Christianity because it’s too socially and politically conservative. Of course, the implication is that if only Evangelicalism would liberalize, especially on sexuality, then it might become more appealing.

But all the available evidence as to what happens to liberalizing churches strongly indicates the opposite. Mainline Protestantism is in many ways what critics of Evangelicalism wish it would become. And yet the Mainline, comprised primarily of the “Seven Sister” historic denominations, has been in continuous free-fall since the early to mid-1960s. Its implosion accelerated after most of these denominations specifically liberalized their sexuality teachings over the last 20 years.

  • Episcopal Church peaked in 1966 at 3.4 million, now 1.7 million (50% loss).

  • Presbyterian Church (USA) peaked 1965 at 4.4 million, now 1.4 million (68% loss).

  • United Church of Christ peaked 1965 at 2.1 million, now 850,000 (60% loss)

  • ELCA (Lutheran) peaked 1968 at 5.9 million, now 3.5 million (41% loss)

  • Christian Church (Disciples) peaked 1964 at 1.9 million, now 400,000 (80% loss).

  • United Methodists peaked 1965 at 11 million, now 6.9 million (40% loss).

  • American Baptist peaked 1.5 million, now 1.2 million (25% loss).

What unites these denominations in decline? The undermining of Biblical authority. Tooley points out that the two Mainline denominations that have not officially liberalized on sexuality, United Methodism and American Baptists, have declined the least.

In contrast, All growing denominations in America are conservative, including the Assemblies of God, which in 1965 had 572,123 and now has 3.2 million (460% increase), the Church of God in Cleveland, which in 1964 had 220,405 and now has 1.2 million (445% increase), the Christian Missionary Alliance, which in 1965 had 64,586 and now has 440,000 (576% increase), and the Church of the Nazarene 1965, which in 343,380 and now has 626,811 (82% increase).

What about the Southern Baptists, America’s largest evangelical denomination? They have been in decline for the last 18 years from 16.4 million to 15 million. That’s a loss of 8% compared to the average Mainline loss of 50%. While SBC membership figures are down, its worship attendance was up by 120,000 in 2017.

Meanwhile the Southern Baptists have been planting churches with a 20% increase in the number of churches over the last twenty years. There’s been a strong focus on planting black and hispanic churches. Something the liberal/progressive Mainline denominations find impossible to do.

I’ll have more to say on this topic soon. Over January I’m working on my next book which is on the Lifecycle of Movements — how they rise and fall.

Another year of Episcopal decline

Skull Gravestone 700x475 Jeffrey Walton reports on another year of decline for the Episcopal church.

The 2013 reporting year saw a continuation of the downward trend, with a membership drop of 27,423 to 1,866,758 (1.4 percent) while attendance dropped 16,451 to 623,691 (2.6 percent). A net 45 parishes were closed, and the denomination has largely ceased to plant new congregations.

The new numbers do not factor in the departure of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, of which the church continues to report over 28,000 members and over 12,000 attendees, despite the majority of South Carolina congregations severing their relationship with the Episcopal Church at the end of 2012. If South Carolina departures were factored in, the membership loss would be closer to 50,000 persons.

The decline offers contrast with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), which reported growth in membership, attendance and number of congregations in its 2013 statistics this June. ACNA was formed in 2009 by departing Episcopalians who disagreed with the liberalizing direction of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.

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Another year of Episcopal decline

Skull Gravestone 700x475 Jeffrey Walton reports on another year of decline for the Episcopal church.

The 2013 reporting year saw a continuation of the downward trend, with a membership drop of 27,423 to 1,866,758 (1.4 percent) while attendance dropped 16,451 to 623,691 (2.6 percent). A net 45 parishes were closed, and the denomination has largely ceased to plant new congregations.

The new numbers do not factor in the departure of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, of which the church continues to report over 28,000 members and over 12,000 attendees, despite the majority of South Carolina congregations severing their relationship with the Episcopal Church at the end of 2012. If South Carolina departures were factored in, the membership loss would be closer to 50,000 persons.

The decline offers contrast with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), which reported growth in membership, attendance and number of congregations in its 2013 statistics this June. ACNA was formed in 2009 by departing Episcopalians who disagreed with the liberalizing direction of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.

more. . ,

 

The list

 Photo Thumbnails Sharju Christ Church Adlington was build between in the 1830s for a cost of £1,560. It was one of the first major churches in the area.

In 1975 Christ Church held it's last service and closed down. In 1981 the building was sold and became the Sharju Indian restaurant. I understand the food is good.

Christ Church Adlington is one of hundreds of Anglican churches that have been made redundant in England.

Here's the list for 1970-2004. It's frightening. Ninety-five pages of churches closed down. That's 95 pages in case you missed it.

What do you do with a redundant church?

There's a list for that too:

Demolition

Sale for residential use

Use as a monument

Community use

Village hall

Storage

Sale to the Greek Orthodox Church

or the Elim Pentecostals

or the Seventh Day Adventists

or the Assemblies of God

or to the United Pentecostal Church

or to or the Church of God of Prophecy

Museum

Violin workshop

Night shelter

Sports centre

Restaurant

Nursing home

I'm only up to page 9 of ninety-five pages (that's 95 pages) of closed churches. . . but you get the idea.

What's the point?

The point is, Why?

What should the Anglicans do?

Enthronement Of Rowan Williams It is no exaggeration to say that the global Anglican church of is at a crossroads facing its greatest crisis since the Reformation. It's been there at least since the 1998 Lambeth Conference when the vast majority of Anglican bishops worldwide rejected “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.”

Despite this the Episcopal church in the US and the Anglican Church in Canada have pursued an agenda of acceptance of homosexuality and the ordination of practicing homosexual clergy.

A decade later, at next July's Lambeth Conference, the battle over the nature of the Anglican communion will continue. The church is going through a painful and protracted identity crisis. Whatever happens at Lambeth, this crisis will not go away.

So what is to be done? What is the future for the world's 82 million Anglicans?

Here are some suggestions from a movements perspective. A word of qualification, I am not an Anglican. These are the musings of a concerned outsider who none-the-less loves the Anglican church.

1. Return to who you are.

Movements are renewed by making an innovative return to tradition. Rediscover the essence of the Anglican tradition in it's unity and diversity. Here's a good start from JI Packer: Who We Are and Where We Stand.

2. Don't forget innovation!

Returning to your tradition is only half of the equation. You must make an innovative return. Institutions spend an inordinate amount on energy on non-essential traditions. In contrast, movements are willing to change everything except their core beliefs in pursuit of their mission.

3. Say goodbye to the hegemony of the West.

It's time to catch up to what God is doing around the rest of the world and learn from it. Read the story of Archbishop Peter Akinola and the amazing growth of the Anglican church of Nigeria. Peter Jenkins demonstrates that throughout the “Global South” it is a biblically orthodox version of the Christian faith that is capturing the hearts of ordinary people. There lies the future of the Anglican church.

4. Learn from John Wesley

John Wesley was born and died an Anglican. Unfortunately the Anglican church of the day was not big enough to contain him. He once said, “I love the rites and ceremonies of the Church. But I see, well-pleased, that our great Lord can work without them.”

Wesley was a loyal Anglican but when the clergy forbade him to preach in “their” parishes he proclaimed, “The world is my parish!” and preached without their permission to thousands who gladly heard him and joined the Methodists.

5. Make room for more Wesleys

Expect God to raise up a new generation of John Wesleys. Is the Anglican church big enough to give them room? What should happen when a bishop seeks to block the planting of a new church by Anglicans in “his” diocese despite it's decline? Will they be given room?

6. Pour fuel on the fire

Where is the Anglican church prospering? Where are lives being transformed by the Gospel? Where are disciples being made? Where are pioneering leaders to be found? Where are churches being planted? Where is God at work? Go there and learn.

Visit the Anglican church of Nigeria. Visit St Mary's London. Find out why the Sydney diocese has no problem growing leaders. Get excited about what the Church Army is doing down in Berkley NSW. Find out where there is unexpected success, learn from it and multiply it.

Make sure you devour the writings of Roland Allen, CMS missionary and mission strategist. Almost a century ago he wrote Missionary methods : St. Paul's or ours? and we still haven't got the message.

7. Have some grandchildren

Having grandchildren is a wonderful way to become young again, vicariously. The Anglican church has already birthed a dynamic movement called Methodism. Why not do it intentionally? That's what the Southern Baptists are doing in world missions. They are planting indigenous churches that are biblically orthodox but not necessarily “Southern Baptist”.

Central Coast Evangelical Church is just one of the churches in a growing movement of Independent Evangelical Churches started and led by graduates of Moore College. Other Anglican churches are planting non-Anglican churches where the parish system frustrates the advance of the Gospel.

8. Remember your heroes

The Anglican church has produced some great leaders throughout it's history: John Wesley, Charles Simeon, William Wilberforce, Henry Martyn, Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Wilson Carlile, CS Lewis, John Stott, David Watson, and many more.

Study their lives. Tell and retell their stories and the lessons from their lives to a new generation.

9. Plant some trees

The best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. The second best time? Now.

Charles Simeon was the pastor of the Anglican church at Cambridge for 50 years. When he began in 1782 there were only a dozen evangelical ministers left in the Church of England. When he finished 54 years later, one in three Anglican churches were led by evangelicals. The vast majority of them were men influenced by Simeon in Cambridge. Many of them were converted through him.

10. Thank God for the Episcopalians

We can be thankful that the Episcopalians in the US provide an insight into the future of the Anglican church. . . if the decline continues. The Episcopalians are in free fall. In 2008 they led the way with the fastest rate of denominational decline in the US.

Why would that be?

According to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Episcopalians aren't interested in replenishing their ranks by having children. “They tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations.” You've got to give her credit for creativity. Here's the real reason.

Is that the future you want for the rest of the Anglican church?

Rowan Williams and the trouble with the Anglican church

Rowan WilliamsRecently the 104th Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, provoked outrage suggesting that the adoption of elements of Islamic sharia law in Britain was "unavoidable" if social cohesion was to be fostered in Britain. He called the principle of one law for everybody "a bit of a danger".

Unfortunately for the Anglican church, this was more than a public relations blunder, it is the symptom of a broader crisis.

In July 800 Anglican bishops from around the world will meet for the 10-yearly Lambeth Conference. There the dispute over homosexual clergy will come to a head with the Archbishop caught in the middle. He holds the untenable position of support for the offical church teaching on the matter while being personally in favour of "faithful" homosexual relationships.

Or is he? Gays must change, says archbishop Now I'm really confused: Archbishop calls secret service for gay clergy.

Either way expect a mess. Institutions decline very very slowly over long periods of time, and then very quickly. How is this possible?

It helps to have: 1. A bucket load of denial 2. The assets of previous generations 3. Amnesia regarding your core beliefs and mission 4. Lots of discussion about "the way forward" with no action

Anglican

Why have the Presbyterians stopped breeding?

Gary_Bouma

Now days it's hard to find a breeding pair of Presbyterians.

That memorable quote comes from Professor Gary Bouma of Monash University. He was commenting on the 2006 Australian census figures on religious adherence.

You can say the same thing about the breeding patterns of the Uniting Church and much of the Anglican church outside the Sydney diocese.

Mainline Protestantism in Australia, and the rest of the world, is an endangered species. The threat of institutional collapse follows hard upon the heels of institutional decline.

Bouma, a Melbourne Anglican, questions the health of the evangelical Sydney diocese. He points out that Melbourne Anglicans, who are different from Sydney Anglicans, declined by 9.1%, whereas in the same period of time, Sydney Anglicans declined by 10.5%.

That's true. Those who identify in a census as "cultural Anglicans" are declining just as fast in Sydney as in the rest of the country, or faster. In 1947 40% of the nation identified themselves as "Anglicans". Today that has fallen to 18.5%. The trend will continue: in Sydney and Melbourne and everywhere else.

But there is another trend. Between 1996-2001 regular church attendance in the Sydney diocese grew by 9% compared to a decline of 6% for the Anglican church outside of Sydney. As Sydney Anglicans are younger than other Anglicans, expect the gap to widen.

Commentators prefer to ignore the real reasons for the vitality of the Sydney diocese or to simply brand these Anglicans as fundamentalists. See: Why nobody likes the Sydney Anglicans.

It's not hard to find the reasons if you know what to look for and want to find it. You can start here.

New NCLS figures on Australian church attendance are due out sometime in the next twelve months. I'll predict the continued growth of the Sydney diocese and the continued decline of non-evangelical Anglicans and other mainline denominations.

In the meantime expect those Sydney Anglicans to keep on breeding. . .

AnglicanSydney Anglicans