Anglican/Episcopal

The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves

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The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
— Shakespeare

It’s easy to blame external factors on church decline — post modernism, immigration, secularism, the economy. The great thing about external factors is that you don’t have control of them. A mood of defeat sets in. We do have control over internal factors — what we believe, what we do. 

Why is the church of England in decline? Here’s an internal factor worth considering…

According to a poll of Anglican clergy which found that as many as 16 per cent are unclear about God and two per cent think it is no more than a human construct.

In addition to those who describe God as a human creation, the YouGov poll found that three per cent believe there is some sort of spirit or life force and 9 per cent argue it is impossible to imagine what God is like.

Clergy were significantly more likely to hold unorthodox beliefs the older they were and the longer they had been in the ministry. Nearly 90 per cent of those ordained since 2011 believe in God compared with only 72 per cent of those who became priests in the 1960s, the research discovered.

The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves

NewImage

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Shakespeare

It’s easy to blame external factors on church decline — post modernism, immigration, secularism, the economy. The great thing about external factors is that you don’t have control of them. A mood of defeat sets in. We do have control over internal factors — what we believe, what we do. 

Why is the church of England in decline? Here’s an internal factor worth considering…

According to a poll of Anglican clergy which found that as many as 16 per cent are unclear about God and two per cent think it is no more than a human construct.

In addition to those who describe God as a human creation, the YouGov poll found that three per cent believe there is some sort of spirit or life force and 9 per cent argue it is impossible to imagine what God is like.

Clergy were significantly more likely to hold unorthodox beliefs the older they were and the longer they had been in the ministry. Nearly 90 per cent of those ordained since 2011 believe in God compared with only 72 per cent of those who became priests in the 1960s, the research discovered.

More doom and gloom for the Church of England and the church in England

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Nothing like some more statistics to confirm what we already know. The church in the western world has been is serious decline for over fifty years. The gains are far outweighed by the losses.

In Britain we’ll be saying goodbye to the Methodists in a few decades while the last light will go out for the Church of England at the end of the century. Good news for the Roman Catholics, they’re holding their own against the trend of decline.

In 1963, Anglicans made up 64.5 per cent of those questioned, compared to 31.1 per cent this year. Other Christian denominations also declined from 23.1 per cent to 7.6 per cent, while other faiths grew from 0.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent and Catholics also grew from 8.6 per cent to 9.1 per cent.

The biggest growth was among the “nones” (people with no religious affiliation), though, up from 3.2 per cent to 44.7 per cent.

What is to be done? Here’s some advice from Ruth Gledhill of Christian Today:

The findings present an enormous challenge for the churches over how they make faith appealing to young people, in a world where many young will be appalled at how the male-dominated church leadership has made discrimination against women and homosexuals a defining feature of orthodox mission. 

If what the Christian Today is suggesting is correct the Episcopalian Church in the US must be doing well. Perhaps they could set their sites on expanding to the UK?

Changing what Christians have always believed about sexual ethics to appeal to a market segment is a recipe for disaster. If faithfulness to the teaching of Jesus and the witness of Scripture results in decline, so be it.

Movements adapt everything about themselves to reach the world, except their core beliefs.

Archbishop Cranmer takes a different approach. Let’s revisit the risen Lord’s instructions to followers concerning their mission:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

What did Jesus say when he sent out his 12 into the towns and villages?

As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.

What could that look like? The Archbishop provides and example:

One such church is Causeway Coast Vineyard in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. In the last seven months they have seen 2,200 people become Christians in their town. This is remarkable, but they are keen not to label it as a revival. It is the fruit of 10 years of presence in their local community, which God is now blessing in an incredible way. 

Alan Scott, the church’s Lead Pastor, has said that the surprising aspect of these numbers is that:

More than 60 percent of those coming to faith have surrendered their yes to Jesus on the streets of our town and surrounding area. The move of God we are experiencing is happening beyond the building. It is not a movement IN the church, it is a movement OF the church.

Visit the Archbishop for a short video interview with Alan Scott on Viewing Evangelism Differently.  It’s worth the effort.

 

More doom and gloom for the Church of England and the church in England

Screen Shot 2014 10 28 at 8 29 56 am 

Nothing like some more statistics to confirm what we already know. The church in the western world has been is serious decline for over fifty years. The gains are far outweighed by the losses.

In Britain we’ll be saying goodbye to the Methodists in a few decades while the last light will go out for the Church of England at the end of the century. Good news for the Roman Catholics, they’re holding their own against the trend of decline.

In 1963, Anglicans made up 64.5 per cent of those questioned, compared to 31.1 per cent this year. Other Christian denominations also declined from 23.1 per cent to 7.6 per cent, while other faiths grew from 0.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent and Catholics also grew from 8.6 per cent to 9.1 per cent.

The biggest growth was among the “nones” (people with no religious affiliation), though, up from 3.2 per cent to 44.7 per cent.

What is to be done? Here’s some advice from Ruth Gledhill of Christian Today:

The findings present an enormous challenge for the churches over how they make faith appealing to young people, in a world where many young will be appalled at how the male-dominated church leadership has made discrimination against women and homosexuals a defining feature of orthodox mission. 

If what the Christian Today is suggesting is correct the Episcopalian Church in the US must be doing well. Perhaps they could set their sites on expanding to the UK?

Changing what Christians have always believed about sexual ethics to appeal to a market segment is a recipe for disaster. If faithfulness to the teaching of Jesus and the witness of Scripture results in decline, so be it.

Movements adapt everything about themselves to reach the world, except their core beliefs.

Archbishop Cranmer takes a different approach. Let’s revisit the risen Lord’s instructions to followers concerning their mission:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

What did Jesus say when he sent out his 12 into the towns and villages?

As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.

What could that look like? The Archbishop provides and example:

One such church is Causeway Coast Vineyard in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. In the last seven months they have seen 2,200 people become Christians in their town. This is remarkable, but they are keen not to label it as a revival. It is the fruit of 10 years of presence in their local community, which God is now blessing in an incredible way. 

Alan Scott, the church’s Lead Pastor, has said that the surprising aspect of these numbers is that:

More than 60 percent of those coming to faith have surrendered their yes to Jesus on the streets of our town and surrounding area. The move of God we are experiencing is happening beyond the building. It is not a movement IN the church, it is a movement OF the church.

Visit the Archbishop for a short video interview with Alan Scott on Viewing Evangelism Differently.  It’s worth the effort.

 

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. . ,

 

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. . ,

 

‘Sin’ is back but ‘the Devil’ optional

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Truly the Devil’s greatest trick was to convince us that he doesn’t exist – or, at least, that it’s impolite to mention him in public.

Tim Stanley

The Church of England has reinstated the word “sin” into baptism services after a backlash from parishes who complained a new wording was “bland”, “dumbed down” and "nothing short of dire".

Plans to introduce an alternative order of service using more “accessible” language, have had to be redrawn after members inundated Lambeth Palace with letters complaining the move went too far.

But the church is to press ahead with plans to banish references to “the Devil” from the new format.

According to Tim Stanley:

This controversy is indicative of a wider problem for the CofE. On the one hand, it takes its role as a national church very seriously and doesn’t like to exclude anyone – call it “the BBC at prayer”. On the other hand, it is also a Christian organisation with a responsibility to try to save people’s souls. As wider society becomes more and more agnostic, these two missions become less and less easy to reconcile. Eventually, the Church will have to choose. Does it serve modern society, with its rampant materialism, social liberalism and discomfort with spiritual discipline? Or does is serve God? If the latter, then it’s going to have to ask people to reject the Devil. No one gets into Heaven without making at least one enemy.

Meanwhile across the North Sea:

Denmark’s Parliament last week voted by a large margin to force churches belonging to the state Lutheran Church to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies inside their sanctuaries. The new law stipulates that individual priests have the right to refuse to conduct the ceremony but, should that happen, local bishops are charged with finding a replacement.

The pattern of history is that state sponsored churches succumb to the pressure to become the chaplain of society. In response, disciple-making movements spring up on the fringe, or outside the borders of institutionalised religion.

Europe’s historic churches have to decide. Do they want to make disciples, or do they want to reflect the beliefs and behaviours of their society’s cultural elites?

A warning to all those who identify as “Free” churches in Europe — evangelicals, charismatics and Pentecostals. The temptation to become the chaplain of society is universal. Success can be your greatest enemy. Don’t lose your focus on the gospel, on making disciples who follow and obey Jesus, and multiplying churches. Everywhere.

(Thanks to reader Colin.)