Church of England "on brink of extinction"
The media love religious prophecies of doom and gloom, especially when they come from former archbishops of Canterbury and the story can be spun into a tacit criticism of their successors.
But George Carey has been predicting the imminent demise of the Church of England at least since 1996, when he first declared that the Church is always one generation away from extinction.
That was almost a generation ago, and we're still here. And if the Church is always one generation away from extinction, this Daily Mail headline tells us nothing new.
It's worth noting that naysayers and doom merchants have been prophesying the demise of the Church of England since its inception: that's five centuries of endurance against an imminent end.
This isn't a simply statistical numbers game: one cannot simply look at declining numbers of young people today and derive a reliable correlation with middle-aged congregations 25 years hence. There are too many variables at play, not least of which is the work of the Holy Spirit.
And there is a certain irony that Lord Carey chooses to rehash his bleak prediction at the very moment Synod is talking earnestly about evangelism and praying for a deep and powerful work of God in the land. Just as the Archbishop of York reminds us of the wise words of the late Canon David Watson, who preached: "Evangelise or fossilise", Lord Carey responds that the fossils are actually of greater scientific interest.
We do not convert people: God does. The Church of England is merely a participant in His mission: it is our task to reflect Jesus in our individual and corporate lives; to worship and to proclaim Christ in word and deed. The Church of England needs to find new ways of being church and fresh ways of communicating truth. Adaptation is the secret of survival.
Blogs have become pulpits, Twitter has replaced coffee mornings and Facebook has morphed into an expression of fellowship. There is no point grumbling about empty Victorian pews: the young people are contemplating God and the meaning of life somewhere more comfortable. If you want to reach them, Lord Carey, get blogging and open a Facebook account.
Jesus told parables; the Apostles preached sermons; we need to text and tweet.
The medium is the message