Anglican/Episcopal

Religion and Europe's Young Adults

5 key findings from a report to Catholic Bishops into the faith of young adults in Europe:

  1. The proportion of young adults (16-29) with no religious affiliation (‘nones’) is as high as 91% in the Czech Republic, 80% in Estonia, and 75% in Sweden. These compare to only 1% in Israel, 17% in Poland, and 25% in Lithuania. In the UK and France, the proportions are 70% and 64% respectively.
     
  2. 70% of Czech young adults – and c. 60% of Spanish, Dutch, British, and Belgian ones – ‘never’ attend religious services. Meanwhile, 80% of Czech young adults and c. 70% of Swedish, Danish, Estonian, Dutch, French and Norwegian ones ‘never’ pray.
     
  3. Catholics make up 82% of Polish, 71% of Lithuanian, 55% of Slovenian, and 54% of Irish 16-29 year-olds. In France, it is 23%; in the UK, 10%.
     
  4. Only 2% of Catholic young adults in Belgium, 3% in Hungary and Austria, 5% in Lithuania, and 6% in Germany say they attend Mass weekly. This contrasts sharply with their peers in Poland (47%), Portugal (27%), the Czech Republic (24%), and Ireland (24%). Weekly Mass attendance is 7% among French, and 17% among British, Catholic young adults.
     
  5. Only 26% of French young adults, and 21% British ones, identify as Christians. Only 7% of young adults in the UK identify as Anglicans, compared to 6% as Muslims. In France, 2% identify as Protestants, and 10% as Muslims.

download the report

The decline of the Anglican church in Britain — nothing new to report

The number of Anglicans in Britain has collapsed by 50 per cent in less than twenty years according to the latest British Social Attitudes survey.

Only 3% of adults under 24 describe themselves as Anglican.

More than half, 53 per cent, of the British public describe themselves as having no religion, the highest level ever.

This trend will continue. The Anglican church in Britain is in serious decline.

From a movements perspective, a religious organization has to align itself with three essential movement characteristics — obedience to the living Word, the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and Jesus' prime directive to make disciples of the nations. To neglect any element is to court decline and eventual decay.

This is not a counsel of despair. The Word, the Spirit, and the mission are also the way back to life for any declining movement.

Surprised by NT Wright

 NT Wright

NT Wright

NT Wright is probably the leading New Testament scholar of our generation. He's certainly the most prolific. After examining the Ressurection of Jesus here's what he concludes is central to the church's mission:

Thus the church that takes sacred space seriously not as a retreat from the world but as a bridgehead into it will go straight from worshipping in the sanctuary to debating in the council chamber— discussing matters of town planning, of harmonizing and humanizing beauty in architecture, in green spaces, in road traffic schemes, and (not least in the rural areas, which are every bit as needy) in environmental work, creative and healthy farming methods, and proper use of resources.

If it is true, as I have argued, that the whole world is now God’s holy land, we must not rest as long as that land is spoiled and defaced.

This is not an extra to the church’s mission. It is central.

Politics, town planning, architecture, green spaces, traffic flow, environmental work, farming methods, proper use of resources? Really. Central? This is what Jesus did? This is why he died and rose again? This is what he sent his disciples into the world to do?

Turn the fruit of the gospel into the gospel itself, and we lose the gospel. 

What did Jesus do? What did he train the disciples to do? What does the risen Lord continue to do in the Book of Acts? Keep that central.

 

Theology Matters

 Katharine Jefferts Schori

Katharine Jefferts Schori

Why do progressive/liberal/mainline churches decline?

For years academics and church officials have denied that decline has anything to do with beliefs. Decline resulted from external factors, not internal factors.

Former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, claimed that since Episcopalians were better-educated and cared for the earth, they had lower birth rates than other Christians.

Recently a Canadian study has concluded that theology does matter.

The authors of Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Mainline Protestant Church Attendees and Clergy surveyed 2,225 churchgoers in Ontario, Canada, and conducted interviews with 29 clergy and 195 congregants.

Some of the results:

  • Only 50% of clergy from declining churches agreed it was “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians”, compared to 100% of clergy from growing churches.
  • 71% of clergy from growing churches read the Bible daily compared with 19% from declining churches. 
  • 46% of people attending growing churches read the Bible once a week compared with 26% from declining churches. 
  • 93% of clergy and 83% of worshippers from growing churches agreed with the statement “Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb”. This compared with 67% of worshippers and 56% of clergy from declining churches. 
  • 100% of clergy and 90% of worshippers agreed that “God performs miracles in answer to prayers”, compared with 80% of worshippers and 44% of clergy from declining churches.

About two-thirds of congregations at growing churches were under the age of 60, whereas two-thirds of congregations at declining churches were over 60.

Why study the decline of the Protestant mainline? We watch and learn, or their future will become ours.

The lights are going out in Wales

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The governing body of the Church in Wales (Anglican) has met recently. They heard a report that average Sunday attendance has fallen below 1%.

The Revd Richard Wood described it as devastating, appalling, an embarrassment, and deeply depressing.

He recognised that the Church in Wales was attempting new things, such as pioneer ministry and licensed evangelists, and said that these would take time to produce fruit. But he was concerned about the “huge amount of time, effort, energy, and money [spent] on propping up stuff which has failed”.

He moved an amendment to the motion, to say that the Governing Body received the report “with a heavy heart”, and added a new clause calling for more research into what made a growing Church.

Good to hear they’ll be some research going on.

The Church in Wales ticks all the right boxes — economic justice, climate justice, same sex marriage and the inclusion of LGBT people. They drink Fair Trade coffee. They’re just a bit fuzzy on the gospel.

"No religion" outnumbers Christianity in England and Wales for the first time

 Justin Welby

Justin Welby

No-one is making any inroads at all into the non-religious population or non-Christian religions. The vast majority of all ‘conversion’ is inter-denominational musical chairs.

Dr Stephen Bullivant

For the first time on record people of no religion outnumber Christians in England and Wales.

 No religion beats Christian in England and Wales

No religion beats Christian in England and Wales

The proportion of people who identify as having no religion has risen from 25% in 2011 to 48.5% in 2014.(It’s important to note that saying you have “no religion” does not equate to saying you are an atheist.)

  • London has the highest proportion of people who say they are religious due mainly to having high levels of people who identify with non-Christian religions.
  • Wales has the highest proportion who say they have no religion, largely due to the low number of immigrants.
  • The Christian population is ageing, half of all Christians in England and Wales are over 55 [ed. what’s wrong with that!]
  • The proportion of the population who describe themselves as Anglican plunged from 44.5% in 1983 to 19% in 2014.
  • While over a third of the population* were brought up Anglican, only a fifth now identify as such
  • For every new member they gain, churches are losing eleven existing members.
  • Most new members are Christians swapping from other denominations.

The Church of England expects attendance to continue to fall for another 30 years as its congregations age and the millennial generation spurns the institutions of faith.

Meanwhile the Archbishop of Canterbury (above) has urged Christians not talk to people about their faith unless they are actively invited to do so.

Download the report.