Tuesday, May 07, 2013

CofE annual statistics 2011 - good news and bad


The Church of England today released its Annual Statistics for 2011 revealing a strong growing trend for Christmas attendance, an increase in child and adult baptisms and a growing stability in weekly service attendance.

Christmas 2011 drew 14.5% more (yes, more) worshipers to Church of England services than attended in 2010, reaching a total of 2,618,030. Whilst one of the factors for such a high annual increase include the poor weather on Christmas Day in 2010, initial returns from 2012 suggest a further increase in Christmas attendance on these high 2011 figures revealing a growing trend for church going at Christmas.

So, Christmas Christians are on the up.

And the number of christenings increased by 4.3%, which was accompanied by a rise of just over 5% in adult baptisms with a combined total of 139,751 baptisms – meaning that the Church of England conducted an average of over 2,600 baptisms each week during 2011. Thanksgivings for the birth of a child also rose - an 11.9% increase, taking numbers to 6,582.

So, baby liturgies are more in demand.

Average weekly attendance nationally fell by less than half of one per cent (0.3%) to 1,091,484 - representing a relative stabilising of average weekly attendance figures. Almost half of the Church of England’s regional areas saw growth (yes, growth) in Church attendance, with 20 out of 44 dioceses showing increases. Nationally there was a 1.2% increase in children and young people attending to 216,928.

So the National Secularists and British Humanists can stick that in their pipes and smoke it.

Weddings saw a slight decrease of 3.6% in 2011, to 51,880, whilst the number of wedding blessings (Services of Prayer and Thanksgiving following a civil ceremony) was up by 4.5%. The wedding figures confirm the trend of the past decade where the Church of England married an average of 1,000 couples every week.

Church of England clergy and lay ministers conducted 162,526 funerals in 2011, a fall of 2.8% on the previous year, reflecting figures from the Office for National Statistics which showed a fall of 1.8% in deaths in England and Wales in 2011. On these figures the Church of England conducted an average of over 3,000 funerals every week in 2011 - over 400 every day.

Welcoming the publication of the statistics, the Rt Rev'd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said: “These figures are a welcome reminder of the work and service undertaken by the Church of England annually. 1,000 couples married, 2,600 baptisms celebrated and over 3,000 funerals conducted every week of the year.

“The attendance figures are heartening, especially the very strong growth in Christmas day attendance. The encouraging news of further growth to come even on these high figures is very welcome and points to a growing trends. Also welcome is the stabilising of the numbers of those who attend church services on a weekly basis. With almost half of our dioceses showing growth, there is a quiet confidence underlying these figures.

"The growth of the numbers of children and young people attending is an encouragement and reflects the investment made by churches across in the country on youth and children's workers to serve not only the church but the whole parish."

“The increase in the number of adults being baptised and those families bringing their children to be Christened is also good news showing growth in the numbers of those both coming to faith and reflects the wide nature of the ministry offered by the Church - for all of life from the cradle to the grave."

The bad news?

Sunday attendance has declined over the decade, and this is particularly noticeable with child attendance:

You don't need to be a genius to work out that decreasing child attendance is a matter of existential concern. There trend toward believing without belonging continues apace, raising undoubted missiological challenges. If the people will not go to church (except at Christmas), more must be done to meet people where they are at. This blog, for example, vastly exceeds any parochial church average Sunday attendance. Indeed, the weekday cyber-attendance puts other congregations well into the penumbra, and with excess of 100,000 visiting every month to hear His Grace's homilies, his cyber-pulpit equals that of any Gothic cathedral.

A church that is not engaged creatively in mission is not fulfilling its primary objective - that of preaching the gospel to make believers to make disciples. If Jesus had chosen to irrupt into the 21st century instead of 0BC, he'd doubtless be blogging and tweeting. At least about the meaning of the Resurrection, for Easter attendance at church has seen a general decline, particularly in the latter part of the century:


And the proportion of babies being baptised into the Church of England has fallen significantly from a high of 70% in 1930 to just 12% in 2011:


It's easy to whinge about this and blame the bishops, or to criticise the Archbishop of Canterbury (yes, even the new one) for his woeful leadership and lamentable witness.

But when did you last lead someone to Christ?

58 Comments:

Blogger Jon Summers said...

The problem we have is why should young people attend church regularly? Surely they're no less 'saved' if they're baptised, confirmed, take communion once in a while? ;-)

It's not like the services are that much of a hot social occasion. Plus they get a lie in on a Sunday, and avoid the sermon. Result?

Can you think of a good argument why somebody should come along every Sunday?

7 May 2013 at 10:42  
Blogger Naomi King said...


There will only be revival in the Church of England when it starts reading the Word of God and believing it and not being double minded. People want purity and holiness not compromise and fudging.

7 May 2013 at 12:45  
Blogger Naomi King said...


For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: ... for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

The congregation that is the Church of England needs to bear this in mind. Where is her conviction, where is her faith ?

I am reminded of verse of verses 5 and 6 of that wonderful hymn At the Name of Jesus which go

Name Him, brothers name Him,
With love as strong as death.
But with awe and wonder
And with bated breath:
He is God the Saviour,
He is Christ the Lord,
Ever to be worshiped,
Trusted and adored.

In your hearts enthrone Him;
There let Him subdue
All that is not holy,
All that is not true:
Crown Him as your Captain
In temptations hour;
Let his will enfold you
In its light and power.

7 May 2013 at 13:04  
Blogger Jon said...

Your Grace - these statistics are rather meaningless when not set against the total populations they are set in. The first table discusses overall population, but leaves the reader to work things out again for each individual statistic!

There has been a fairly well document mini baby boom in the last few years. I would expect significant increases in baptisms etc. I haven't read the whole source material, but the attendance numbers in the first few tables deal with absolute numbers rather than proportion of the population.

It may be as you say that the humanists are in retreat, but if they're getting 2 of every 3 new recruits being born, absolute attendance figures mask your problems rather than showcase a resurgence...

7 May 2013 at 13:16  
Blogger Jon said...

I'll eat my words and apologise to the CoE - the final two tables do include population figures of sorts, though I can see why they don't work the % figures out for you...

In 2000, 19.8% of live births were baptised. In 2011 it was 12.1%.

7 May 2013 at 13:22  
Blogger Peter D said...

Jon Summers said...
"The problem we have is why should young people attend church regularly? Surely they're no less 'saved' if they're baptised, confirmed, take communion once in a while?"

Excellent point, Sir.

'Faith alone' and 'Scripture alone' do have certain drawbacks then.

7 May 2013 at 13:48  
Blogger Paul Huxley said...

The CoE, in its current form, must die and be born again.

It's sad, but save for something immediate and miraculous, she's going down.

7 May 2013 at 13:51  
Blogger MFH said...

Cutting last question - needs to be Asked.
I remember a wise lady telling me that we spend a lot of time inviting people to church, but never invite them to Christ.
Personal evangelism is the pump prime of any true revival, be it by words, or being epistles read of all men.
The CoE worries too much about conforming to this world, not being transformed by the word of God.
When we are individual transformed - others will see the difference, and want it for themselves.
true witness begins with the hands and feet - not the tongue.

7 May 2013 at 14:19  
Blogger Naomi King said...


I am very sad to hear that Her Majesty the Queen, rather than living up to her coronation oath (to only enact laws that conformed to the Holy Bible) is answering correspondents n the Homosexual "Marriage" Act, that she will comply with the advice of her ministers aka Mr Cameron et al. She was not annointed in 1953 in Westminster Abbey to uphold the laws of God as Queen to then fetter herself in this way. She will have to answer to God in the not to distant future if she gives assent to this legislation which will sanctify what God states perfectly clearly (and over and over again) in His Word that he abhors.

What are her bishops advising her I ask ? Your Grace do you know ? Her very soul is at stake.

7 May 2013 at 14:36  
Blogger Irene's Daughter said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7 May 2013 at 15:44  
Blogger Irene's Daughter said...

I agree with Paul Huxley that the CoE is going down, but rejoice in the knowledge that our God is able to put flesh back onto dead bones. He may well bring it back into life sooner rather than later for the sake of those on a fast downwards escalator to hell.

The psalmist asked a very pertinent question. 'If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?' (Ps 11:3) The foundations ARE being destroyed. God as Creator, the existence of Satan and Hell and the reality of Divine atonement are rarely taught from our pulpits today and homosexuality is seen as being OK. It is not! They are not only not being taught, but some so-called believers are actually publically denying the clear teaching of Scripture in all of these foundational doctrines. A very dangerous thing to do. Consider 1 Corinthians 6 verse 9

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders."

None of those who practice homosexuality - or condone it in their hearts will inherit the kingdom of God. Even if they are members of the clergy or regular church attenders.

If the church continues to deny the reality of His nature as Creator, continues to question the atonement and readily accepts homosexual practice, why should Almighty God bring seekers of the Truth to the CoE (and the other churches in the UK) where they will not be saved?

But when the foundations are destroyed the Lord is still in His Holy Temple and true believers have direct access to Him through Jesus. Start praying. Now!

7 May 2013 15:44

7 May 2013 at 15:51  
Blogger MFH said...

Naomi-
How does this differ from signing the abortion act - or many other satanic acts signed into law since 1953?
I believe HMQ is one of Gods children, and like the rest of us not perfect.
But our perfection is in Christ, Our righteousness is from Him. We are saved by his work, not our own.
If she is resting there she is safe..
... but she should still not sign this into law..

7 May 2013 at 15:56  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Food. Food, Your Grace. Delicious post-service luncheons with finger foods, veggies, hot stews, hot dogs and pizza slices, sweets and pastries. No mystery potluck crap, auntie Norma's cake, or cheap fillers, please, but properly prepared, restaurant level comestibles set out beautifully. Let people fill their own plates (dessert size to reduce waste) and no sit-down tables, to force people to walk about as they munch and to mingle. And no speeches, sermonising, endless announcements and such during the feed.

An ancient Jewish secret, this. At many of our synagogues there is also liquor available and with someone to serve it (I sacrifice my time and volunteer frequently ). Expensive all this, but brings in people and congregants can sponsor a whole or part of a luncheon on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, memorials and such.

I know, some will be shocked at such a materialistic approach, insisting that religious enthusiasm is the only legitimate reason to attend church. Nonsense, I say. Examine your own history. When church attendance was voluntary in the early early days of your Church, substantial meals were shared among the congregants. As attendance became customary or enforced, comforts decreased, meals disappeared and everyone trudged home after. Pleading, harranguing or guilt tripping never works... a good meal in good company always does.

7 May 2013 at 17:01  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Radio 4 had a good debate on this earlier, at around lunchtime.

7 May 2013 at 17:31  
Blogger michael north said...


I haven't read today's post from our host, as "the condition of the Church of England" is one of the things, like mention of "education" or "the NHS", that make me change channels.

The essential problem with the Church of England is that it is English. The English possess many admirable qualities (I have some of them myself), but intellectual clarity is not one of them. In fact, the English capacity for instinctual common sense has been the source of their strength over recent centuries, which is why things like communism never really caught on. It may yet save this country from same-sex marriage.

Unfortunately, the Church of England, having coasted for so long on comfortable assumptions about what normal, decent people believe, simply lacks the muscle to stand up to the fanaticism of the secularists or the Islamists.
These people are not gentlemen.

The new Archbishop of Canterbury is an admirable man, and the Church is well rid of the last one, but he is running a sideshow.

7 May 2013 at 17:48  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"These people are not gentlemen."

Actually, I'm lovely in real life.

7 May 2013 at 18:05  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

John

The problem we have is why should young people attend church regularly? Surely they're no less 'saved' if they're baptised, confirmed, take communion once in a while? ;-)

It is about being in a community of believers John.

It is about building each other up and it is about displaying Gods love by doing good works in the community.

Did I mention accountability? It is about accountability to other Christians.

Unless you are part of a VERY liberal chuch you cannot do the last part in bed

Phil



7 May 2013 at 18:06  
Blogger David Hussell said...

I agree with the broad thrust of most of the above commentators; yes, the C of E is probably going down, as many in it, but not all, no longer truly believe the Gospel. I like to think that I am one of those who still believe in orthodox, conservative Christianity in its Low Church form, and that will form the basis of my future ministry starting in hopefully, just over one year. If the ending and rebirth of the C of E , in whatever form that takes, occurs during my lifetime on this earth then types like me will be on hand to respond, in our respective localities, to fresh leadership, possibly from the global south. If the death throes take longer, as I suspect they will, then it is vital to pass on the truth and tradition to those who come after us so that they can lead the rebirth. I know not, but in the meanwhile rest assured that there is a small group committed to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in an orthodox form. And the advice from Avi seems very attractive and practical to me. First get them to embrace the church as community and then later, they may well become believers. No problem with that ! It was so in the very early Church I understand.

7 May 2013 at 18:11  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

David

I am pleased that you are going to be leading a Church

However, perhaps a little pride that you are the "true believer" etc etc?

Not like the "other sort" dragging us "good people" down

We are given one rule to preach the Gospel and to build communities.

Love his people. Unconditionally.

And as for

"then it is vital to pass on the truth and tradition to those who come after us so that they can lead the rebirth"

Where is my sick bowl?

There is a word for you in the Bible begins with a P and ends with an e

Not one of Jesus' good guys!

Phil



7 May 2013 at 18:58  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Michael

"simply lacks the muscle to stand up to the fanaticism of the secularists or the Islamists.
These people are not gentlemen."

Quite agree. What we need is a military leader (a proper messiah perhaps?)who will stand up to the Romans once and for all.

None of this love and forgiveness nonsense

Oops, been there before.

Phil

7 May 2013 at 19:11  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Michael/David

WE were told to feed the 5000 !

Why did Jesus not call down manna from Heaven.

Have faith in (and be content with) the little we do each day for God.

God will use what little we have, but he cannot use pride

Phil

7 May 2013 at 19:17  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...



You provide much welcome news to all that hold Christendom dear, Archbishop, what !

Interesting point you have about ‘believing and not belonging’. Unfortunately, single types such as this man find it easy to evade the Sunday call, though not every Sunday. As part of a couple, he would find it so much easier to incorporate regular attendance into the weekly schedule. (It would count as ‘taking the wife out’, so he would argue)

Regarding your last line, this fellow undertook recent missionary work over at that well known den of iniquity, Pink News. It will come as no surprise to any of you at Cranmer to hear that according to the deranged and disordered inmates, Christianity in the UK is dead, and that there are apparently more practising sodomites in the country than there are church attendees. This man joshes you not on such an important matter. Christian gays do participate in the throng there, but are drowned out by the secular and atheist Big Angry Gay bullies, that make DanJ0 appear a kitten.

Unsurprisingly, the site resembles something out of Dante’s inferno. It is a site of Grief, Wrath, Anger, Pain, Despair and Sadness. Actually, it wasn’t too bad before the Inspector arrived, but that’s what it was like when he left it {AHEM}. Ignominiously, he is annoyed to report that he is banned again, and his wise words expunged (…presumably both on the orders of the Devil himself…). Shame really, the Inspector could have done so much good over there. Such is life…





7 May 2013 at 19:26  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Inspector

Lucky you were just banned.

If you lived in France and were just walking in support of heterosexual marriage you would be tear gassed.

That is if you were a mum pushing a kid in a buggy, or holding a young child's hand and were just there in support and saying nothing.

However, if you dared open your mouth to speak.......

Phil

7 May 2013 at 19:59  
Blogger Peter D said...

Inspector
All very amusing but hardly "leading someone to Christ"!

How on earth did you regain admission there?

Some now think you a mole reporting intelligence to C4M! Others, hold your breath as this is possibly libelous, claim you are our good host trolling in disguise.

Phil Roberts
I thought you were unnecessarily harsh towards David Hussell. He came over to me as committed and enthusiastic rather than prideful.

Agreed he is in the wrong church to be a "true believer" given there is only one true Church.

7 May 2013 at 20:18  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

And in Athens?

7 May 2013 at 20:20  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Greetings Phil Roberts.

The Inspector is hopping furious he’s been banned again from Pink News. You see, in this new found ‘equality’ going around, he can’t see why he is discriminated against because he’s not a gay !

But then again, perhaps he shouldn’t be so angry. Pink News is obviously a support site ‘especially and uniquely’ for gay types and gay types alone. Fair enough. We don’t want these people driving to the nearest woods and dropping themselves of the first tree with a rope around their necks.

So, with this in mind, it doesn’t seem so extreme to ask for marriage to be ‘especially and uniquely’ kept for those it was designed for, and to discriminate against those for whom it clearly isn’t designed !


7 May 2013 at 20:25  
Blogger Naomi King said...


"Phil Roberts
I thought you were unnecessarily harsh towards David Hussell. He came over to me as committed and enthusiastic rather than prideful."

I rather agree.

7 May 2013 at 20:29  
Blogger Naomi King said...


For the Inspector and other interested parties -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPZv6cATn-w

Inside the Homosexual Agenda

The misquoting of the Martin Luther speech and where it goes ... undercover footage and interviews of people submerged in this behaviour based lifestyle exposing the homosexual AGENDA.

Well worth the watching. 42 minutes

7 May 2013 at 20:30  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Phil Roberts,

A little pride ? Maybe indeed. Yes, you may have a point. It is a common if not universal human failing, but one which presumably, you have totally under your control and have never exhibited ? Well done then !

As for your other point, well you are being a little extreme, I would suggest. Perhaps you have had a very bad day and were looking for someone to lash out at.

Naomi, Peter. Your comments were appreciated. So thank you both.

7 May 2013 at 21:08  
Blogger Kidz Klub Bradford said...

Your last question is incredibly pertinent Cranmer, and as yet I see, no-one has chosen to answer it. And that, I fear is the Church's greatest problem.

And if you would allow us a little self-publicity, there are many organisations committed to high calling of sharing the gospel with "the greatest in the kingdom". But we struggle along with little support, attention or recognition.

We would be delighted if some of your enlightened & erudite readers would care to read of some of the amazing things the Lord is doing amongst the children in the great city of Bradford, and sign up to hear more :)

Or to hear about the amazing work of churches outreaching to children across the UK, can I recommend people watch this speech given at Conservative conference a few years back.

7 May 2013 at 21:20  
Blogger Naomi King said...


Dave Sharples thank you for the link to Kidz Zlub and the passion and commitment of you talk to the Conservative Conference. God bless you for what you are doing.

7 May 2013 at 21:38  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

I say Kids Club, that’s the spirit !

7 May 2013 at 21:41  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Peter and Naomi

It is good to see that David has his supporters.

More to pick up stones when the adulteress arrives?

David

I had rather a good day thank you David

As to the other thing about pride. Getting irritated with me made you miss the point it seems.

Interesting, read about it happening anywhere else?

DanJo perhaps was giving you a clue?

Rob Bell anyone? I thought not.

But for the many who do not know God. Which church might help them take the first step to Christ?

Phil.

7 May 2013 at 21:50  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Naomi,
Perhaps we could pray that Her Majesty is delayed somehow so that she is unable to deliver the 'Queens' speech.
Prayer brings about revival.

7 May 2013 at 22:21  
Blogger Tony B said...

Avi. At least where I am, the Church does food in abundance. Suppers. Lunches. Puddings. You name it. The Alpha course is centred around a meal. As are other similar affairs.

7 May 2013 at 22:48  
Blogger Peter D said...

Phil Roberts said ...

"More to pick up stones when the adulteress arrives?"

Do you believe that certain behaviour, if left unchecked and unrepented, will place a person's soul at risk of eternal damnation?

Teaching about Christ is not all a cuddly, lovely dovey, lets all huddle up together, message.

All power to David if he sides with orthodoxy against modernism and liberalism in the church!

7 May 2013 at 22:55  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Tony B, I'm guessing your church is well attended, as food draws folks. The toughest part, though, for those considering the benefits of attracting people into their house of worship is in making sure the institution doesn't become a soup kitchen, as that spells disaster. I know, I know, feeding of the poor and all that, but a soup kitchen, along with charitable social activities should be run separately and by people who know what they are doing.

Anecdotal: I once attended a synagogue where they got carried away with their kindness and invited the neighbourhood homeless for the congregational Sabbath luncheons. It was disgusting, nerve-wracking and outright dangerous, with unwashed and twitchy types pawing at the food and the women, eyballing the coats in the cloakroom, hanging out in the washrooms and showing too much interest in the young children. I don't know how that worked because we left and never came back. Ordinary working people lead hard lives and need a bit of genteel luxury and calm to decompress at the end of the week and hopefully to find a glimmer of sanctity in their worship and companionship. They cannot do that when someone is digging into the cake with dirty talons, dribbling food from their mouths over the hors d'ouvres, washing their hair in the bathroom sink or trying to take their seven year old out on a date. It's sad, I wish it weren't so, but that's the way it is; we are not all saints or missionaries and shouldn't be cajoled into the role by a handful of do-gooder busybodies.

8 May 2013 at 00:31  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Peter

"Do you believe that certain behaviour, if left unchecked and unrepented, will place a person's soul at risk of eternal damnation?"

Let me turn this around.

Do you believe the opposite is true?

If you do how can you know that you have done enough to satisfy God?

Only one person lived without sin in all of history.

So quite a challenge we are setting ourselves!

Don't get me wrong I am very happy with orthodoxy. What I dislike is us behaving in God's Church like characters out of "the life of Brian"

A little more tollerance and compassion? Completly out of the question I suppose?

Phil

8 May 2013 at 04:12  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Avi

I know exactly what you mean

In our Church once a family arrived and the father was not even a member of the Golf Club!

Another family arrived, nice people but the mother did have such a common accent.

I mean, what were they thinking!

One must have standards.

Otherwise anyone would think that they can just walk in here say a few prayers and all of their sins are forgiven.

Anyway I cannot think what this has got to do with CofE attendance figures

Phil





8 May 2013 at 04:29  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

I have been on an 'alpha course' as it happens. Re the homless thing, i think the religions do do a lot of charity work,

8 May 2013 at 07:39  
Blogger Naomi King said...


I would like to encourage David as a young man wishing to devote his life to Christ's service. Thank God for him and others like him. Indeed we shall need this remnant willing to resist the Devil unto death. God bless you young man.

Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

8 May 2013 at 08:47  
Blogger Naomi King said...




Mr Integrity

"Prayer brings about revival". How true !

My life really changed when I took seriously our LORD'S command to pray in the closet. Also to listen to Rees Howell's audio book on Intercession ("abiding in the rest") and to read Watchman Nee's "Sit, Walk, Stand" (sitting with Christ Jesus in Heavenly places").

The key I would humbly suggest is to seek God's Will and to follow it by adopting the power and authority given to us by Jesus in Matthew 28.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

8 May 2013 at 09:02  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Just an observation from the outside here, is the issue about bums on seats or a superficial conversion done in a moment of mass hysteria or is it better to have a church in which people can learn at their pace, so when the fanfare stops and reality steps in or bad things happen(i get the impression some think jesus wont let that happen and are upset when it does)that belief still holds. I have a few christian friends who fit into thesee catergories. I guess i come from a faith which doesnt seek mass converts, but those that do convert take at least a year and have to be tested by a rabbinical court on what theyve learned. I guess it filters out the non committed, 'heretical' etc. I guess if your a bloke, circumcision cant be undone. Another reason for converts to really consider if what they are doing is the right thing.

8 May 2013 at 09:20  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

"But when did you last lead someone to Christ?"

Possibly never, so let's say my total return is zero.

The statistics say that the Church of England, over the last 50 years, has posted a net loss in the hundreds of thousands, so I'm way ahead of them.

And I've managed to do that without a network of 13,000 local branches, thousands of full and part time staff, thousands more volunteers, £4.4 billion of assets and £1 billion of turnover.

I'd say my evangelical productivity is streets ahead of the Church of England's...

8 May 2013 at 09:41  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Darter

Our Anglican Church went from an average of 10 worshipers 5 years ago to an average of 90 now.

Shatin Anglican

http://www.shatinchurch.org.hk/

Went from nothing to many hundreds in just 20 years.

Jesmond Parish Church (middle of Newcastle), 1200 worshipers and rising

http://www.church.org.uk

Closer to where I live, you could try St Barts in Bath.

Phil

8 May 2013 at 10:56  
Blogger Peter D said...

Phil Roberts

Yes, I do absolutely believe that a habitual and unrepented life of grave sin severly risks the immortal soul. Jesus is very clear about this in the Gospels and repeatedly warns of damnation.

No, I don't believe as individuals we should damn and condemn as a baying mob. However, I do believe the Church has a God given duty to make people aware of the consequences of a life without Christ and what accepting Him means.

Compassion and tolerance applies when one is invited to a life of Grace and on the road to salvation; not if one is wilfully determined to remain on the road to perdition.

8 May 2013 at 11:47  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Phil 04:29

I guess this has to do with the demise of a number of North American downtown churches and synagogues under the leadership of idealist clergy and committees of social activists. Church attendance isn't improved, to say the least, when the state dumps the mentally ill and the homeless onto the "community," ie the street, from one end and social activists badger struggling churches to turn themselves into badly run homeless shelters from the other. And so, low income downtown families who used to find grace, peace, stability and practical help now have no place to go. Perhaps they are insufficiently Christian in your book, Phil, by not cheerfully surrendering their once pleasant sanctuaries to dirt and danger. Better go and apply your snark and put them in their place.

8 May 2013 at 12:48  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Avi

I don't think that the Bible is asking us to turn the Church into a homeless shelter.

The early Church was involved helping widows and orphans. The mentally ill were cured by prayer, provided they desired it and presumably then required no further help.

Many Churches respond with a "snark" less extreme than my example, but is still not helpful.

The best policy it to be perfectly honest about who we will accept and who we won't and what behavior we will and will not tolerate.

e.g. liars were not acceptable in the book of Acts (with no second chances!)

I am with you Avi. We are obliged to protect our members from harm and take reasonable steps to ensure that people can come to Church safely. (in the same way that we are obliged to fix the faulty staircase or light switch.) In the US so I read, this can mean armed private security guards. I want my family to be safe in Church. They are their to worship not to do social work

Phil

8 May 2013 at 16:08  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 May 2013 at 16:20  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

HI Phil

As I suspected you were really winding people up to make a point, when you were talking about the golf club etc. I had thought that the posts seemed a bit not like you. The last one, @ 16.08 seems more like you.

My bumbling attempt at being ecumenical :

I'm guessing that there is a distinction between the 'class' issue and the real down and outs of society. For example, it would seem a bit ungenerous if a Church excluded the children of a single parent teenager from their youth groups or someone who was much poorer than the rest of the congregation.

However....

I think for homeless/drug addicts/mentally ill, religion can help, but they need the social/medical care as well. That's where religions -both Christianity and Judaism for example- can come in and help on an organised charity basis.

There is a difference between that and just using a holy place of worship as a drop in. I think someone once had a fit about how 'his' Temple was a house of prayer.... or something like that.

And one final thought, related to the theme of the thread, do people do charity work for the good of it in its own right or for the motivation of conversion and increasing the people on the pews, along with revenue? Is the motivation right? If you grow these churches is the 'turnover' of parishoners big or small?

Darter Noster noted that the C of E has huge financial assets and a lot of religious buildings and is still quite small - 2.6 million out of 60 million on the most important religious day for Christians in what is an officially Anglican Christian country.

So in one sense money or the lack of it isn't the defining factor here Although my uncle does moan endlessly about the 'Archdemon' constantly wanting more and more money from the Church and the ever increasing cost of maintaining ancient listed buildings....

8 May 2013 at 16:27  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Phil: The best policy [is] to be perfectly honest about who we will accept and who we won't and what behavior we will and will not tolerate.

There is a suggestion we agree on. As it happens, this is something our synagogue committee resolved to hammer out after a few unpleasantries and.... two years later, still no decision as members who want a country club versus those who want a hostel continue to debate philosophical essentials. My theoretically brilliant idea to continue open access to the sanctuary and services, but restrict entry to the social hall to those invited by any one member turned out to be totally impractical and unenforceable. So, we're back to ad hoc responses to crises as they occur.

And here we are at the gate of another rant tangent. In discussing policy, several lawyers cautioned against formalizing any policy as we were suddenly in danger of violating a whole host of municipal bylaws, federal and international human rights legislation and conventions and would face potential civil suit liabilities, not to mention the most dreaded sentence an institution can face... the loss of insurance coverage. So, do nothing and hope or pray for the best. As we hop along this trajectory, I'm thinking we're probably at the end of institutional houses of worship and back to secret meetings in people's homes, or to avoid safety and fire code violations, in secluded caves.

8 May 2013 at 19:56  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Hannah/Avi

The motivation is an interesting one.

Timothy Keller suggests that "loving the poor" can become just as much an idol as power, recognition, family, food etc

It can have the added problem that they can feel that "God owes them" for all their hard work and sacrifice.

Perhaps we need to focus on "loving the poor", but then deciding what that actually entails?

Phil

8 May 2013 at 21:25  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi phil, it may or may not help you to know that i onced worked as a volunteer as a salvation army soup kitchen girl. There we old folk who just like to chat, homeless people who were just happy for food and others who took the mick as professional beggers or druggies who were quite horrible. I also found motivation wise it was all about conversion. Although when id been spat on, groped and had some one be sick on me, i did learn there is more to being a do gooder than meats they eye. As for the army they didnt like the fact i gave coffee and cigs to the homless. So we parted company.

8 May 2013 at 22:01  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

On the positive side, we did have a homeless person who comes to our services on a Saturday. We used to call him 'billy' (after Rev Graham) because he used to shout "Amen"!!, very loudly (the only bit of Hebrew, I guess he'd know). He seems quite happy now and has apparently been able to get a place to live and a job.

8 May 2013 at 22:16  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Hannah

Encouraged by your last post

It has been stated that the poor need the rule of law as much as love.

Without the rule of law, efforts are futile.

Phil

9 May 2013 at 18:53  
Blogger Peter D said...

"The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.

There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God."

"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."

"Hungry for love, He looks at you. Thirsty for kindness, He begs of you. Naked for loyalty, He hopes in you. Homeless for shelter in your heart, He asks of you. Will you be that one to Him?"

"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."

(Mother Teresa)

9 May 2013 at 23:31  
Blogger Naomi King said...


Well said Peter.

10 May 2013 at 07:42  
Blogger Et Expecto said...

Of course, a proportion of the decline, albeit a small proportion, is due to the formation of the Orsdinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and leakage to the Catholic Church.

11 May 2013 at 11:48  

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