The problem – the legacy of this Decade, in effect – can be simply expressed. The Church of England – or at least its hierarchy – is stuck in broadcast mode. Like the proverbial Englishman abroad, they cannot make themselves understood in a world that increasingly finds the Church incomprehensible, especially in spheres such as sexuality, gender, equality, safeguarding, the
exercise of power, the holding of authority and being open to accountability. But does the Church perceive this? No. It just talks louder, hoping, somehow, it will be heard. It won’t.
In all this, the Church only seeks to make itself more appealing, and attractive to those who might join. Yet it rarely asks the same public why they don’t join. It is like a business doing even more hard selling, with increasing desperation, but unwilling to ask the consumers why they aren’t buying. What is strange about this situation is that the drivers of the agenda are deeply concerned about mission and evangelism. So, they act out of the best of intentions.
But the problem is that the underlying theology of mission and of the Holy Spirit – missiology and pneumatology – is deeply deficient. Expressive evangelistic campaigns tend to achieve very little. Even the Evangelical Alliance admitted in 1994 that the main achievement of the Decade was to establish ‘new levels of co-operation between the Churches’. Hardly a great result but, as other writers in the field of missiology had known for years, what was compelling and credible was an authentic and humble Church. One that listened deeply and lived its faith, faithfully and unassumingly, ratherthan brashly promoting its brand.