The single most significant factor seems to be a willingness to abandon a paternalistic mode of action. The bulk of the Church’s social activities – and many congregational ones, too – were shaped in the 19th century in response to the demands of urban industrial modernity, and missionary activity. They were premised on social inequalities that were rarely challenged, and had to do with dispensing salvation goods, educational goods, and material goods to “God’s children”, and the “poor and needy”.
Those forms of Christian activity which have not shaken off this paternalistic mode are in trouble. Where they have given way to genuine partnership, and co-creation, they tend to be doing much better.
Rather than ignoring or repressing the Church of England’s deep insertion into society, the time seems ripe for rediscovering it as its saving asset. My point about a Church without congregations is tongue-in-cheek. Success always depends, in part, on activists. But once the Church starts to exist for the benefit of activists alone, it ceases to be a Church, and becomes a sect.
Read it all from the Church Times.