Category : Evangelism and Church Growth

(Church Times) David Goodhew examines growth and decline in parts of the Anglican Communion

…numerical growth and decline do matter. They matter theologically. Scripture, doctrine, and church tradition place a high value on growing congregations and starting new ones. They matter experientially: there is much evid¬ence that congregations enhance individual and community well-being.

And they matter also because churches, like individuals, live out of the narratives that they tell about themselves ”” and narratives of numerical growth or decline mould how churches understand themselves. Churches and provinces see themselves as “major” or “minor” players, are fearful or confident, because of whether they see themselves as growing or shrinking. Often, the stories that churches tell of themselves are not wholly based on reality, or they are based on past realities, ignoring what is happening now. So it matters that narratives of growth and decline tell the truth.

Besides, the Church of England (like many other Anglicans in the global North) has hardly been guilty of excessive concern for numerical growth in recent decades. There is much inverse snobbery about numerical growth, as something “just not done” in polite ecclesial circles. This feeds into a widespread “decline theology”. Decline theology sees church decline as unproblem¬atic, or even to be accepted as “inevitable”. Decline theology is an internalisation of the secularisation thesis. It creates an ecclesiology of fatalism. Perhaps God has other ideas.

Read it all from the long list of should-have-already-been-posted material.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

[CT] Is Church Growth a Solution Looking for a Problem?

Everyone wants to be like the first century church, but from what I can tell, it wasn’t much different from today’s church.

They had large and small churches. Healthy, sick and dead churches. Churches with strong leaders, weak leaders and sinful leaders. They worshiped God imperfectly and fought over theology.

They also had a great deal of variety. The congregations in Jerusalem, Corinth, Laodicea and Ephesus had little in common outside of following scripture and practicing communion and water baptism.

In short, the first century church was not the ideal template for Christian life, theology and worship that many people think it was.

But they did do one thing. They turned the world upside-down. (Acts 17:6 ASV)

Read it all

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

[Movement Dio Wellington] Prepared to share

.. perhaps the most unexpected and surprising opportunity to follow God’s leading came as a gang-affiliated youth walked in off the street looking for a place to get drunk. The young man heard contemporary worship music and assumed it must be a Shihad gig ”“ but when Diocesan Youth Co-ordinator Luke Paynter and his co-leaders spotted that he didn’t have a New Wine wristband, they escorted him outside to question him.

That’s when his story began to unfold.

He had lost his job in the last few days, and his future wasn’t bright. His dad, a patched gang member, didn’t take too kindly to the news, and gave his son “the bash.” Reaching breaking point, the young man went looking for somewhere to drown his sorrows.

As the young man told his story, Luke and his co-leaders offered to pray with him..

Read it all [h/t Peter Carrell]

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Can the gospel reach digital natives?

Once upon a time, if you wanted to communicate with someone, you either spoke to them, sent them a letter (which could be delivered in either of the two postal deliveries every day!), or you phoned them. This could be from one of two places: either a phone box in the street, requiring loads of change, or the house phone in the hall””where everyone could hear you””and answered by the desired recipient’s parents, with whom you had to have an excruciatingly awkward conversation before being able to ask for the person you actually wanted to speak to. This probably sounds like the dark ages, but it was actually less than 35 years ago.’

So begins the latest Grove Youth booklet on Youth Ministry in a Digital Age by Liz Dumain, who works in the mission team in Birmingham Diocese. The booklet is a great exploration of the challenges and opportunities of reaching ”˜digital natives’, those who were born with the internet technology that many of us have been learning to adapt to. Liz begins by noting the growth of internet use, how it differs for those who have known nothing else, and why it matters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Christology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From Northern Nigeria to Northern Ireland; Third Anglican Leadership Institute Concludes

The Third Anglican Leadership Institute is now history. As I write some are still in the air, and some have landed and rejoined their families.

And what a great group they were. They spanned the full Anglican spectrum:

– From the Rector of a posh downtown parish in a mid-sized Australian city to the General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Burundi;
– From a Rector in Brunei where Sharia Law prevents him from even having a Christmas tree outside the Church to a leader of young adults in a large Brazilian church who surfs in his spare time;
– From a bishop in northern Nigeria where unless a man “steals” another man’s wife his own wife might accuse him of “not really being a man” to the assistant Rector of a booming Northern Ireland church who finished off 6 books while he was with us;
– From a former “Lost Boy” of South Sudan who runs a diocese that cannot afford him any salary and whose family must live in exile to a Deacon who assists the former President of GAFCON…

And on it goes. 16 marvelous people — all Anglicans from 12 enormously different socio-economic situations living in cultures vastly different from each other. Yet all united in Jesus Christ and experiencing the joy of becoming a family. Our closing dinner was a time of deep prayer followed by hugs all around. Those Africans love to hug.

Read it all (Diocese of SC photo).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Paul Cartwright responds to the paper in the previous post, "”˜Setting God’s People Free’

Each congregation member has been encouraged to pray “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will”, and to further discern God’s call upon their lives, including those who are retired. This has resulted in some using their vocational skills as teachers to become School Governors, as well as an increase in outreach events in the Community.

St Peter’s has joined with other Catholic Parishes in the Barnsley area to deliver teaching and encouragement, through short courses designed to give those who attend a greater depth of understanding of the faith, as well as running a Fan the Flame mission to encourage personal development within the parishes, and the Clergy and People have studied together and been ministered to by one another during this time.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

The C of E needs to undergo a major "culture shift" to mobilise lay members to share their faith

The Church of England needs to undergo a major “culture shift” to mobilise lay members to spread the gospel in their everyday lives, a new report being presented to members of the General Synod argues.

The report, entitled “Setting God’s People Free”, calls for Christians to be equipped to live out their faith in every sphere – from the factory or office, to the gym or shop – to help increase numbers of Christians and their influence in all areas of life.

Laity and clergy should view themselves as equal partners in the task of evangelising the nation, it insists. The paper is a key element of the lay leadership strand of Renewal and Reform, an initiative from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, to help grow the Church.

Read it all and follow the link provded for more.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Commissioners’ funds boost Evangelical plants

A further £9 million has been distributed to dioceses by the Church Commissioners as part of the drive to achieve statistical growth.

Church-planting by Evangelical churches, and efforts to address the absence of children from the pews, are among the trends that will benefit from a financial boost.

The largest grant ”” £2.5 million ”” will go the diocese of Birmingham, for its work with younger people. The diocese, which has the lowest church attendance to population in the country, and the lowest level of stipendiary clergy per capita, has already received £1 million towards its “Growing Younger 2015-19” work. By 2022, it seeks to plant 15 new churches, “make over 1000 new disciples”, and train up to 1000 “missional leaders”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Report from the January 2017 meeting of the College of Bishops of the ACNA

We received an update from The Rev. Dr. Joel Scandrett and The Rev. Art Going, members of the Committee for Catechesis. The work of the committee is to encourage the whole church to embrace catechesis as a critical means of discipling; to be a church investing and engaging in lifelong disciple-making.

The College adopted a revision to Parts 1 and 2 of the Catechism, with the goal of producing a final version of the Catechism in the coming year. The Bishops approved changes that were presented, and endorsed the plan to place pastoral prayers formerly in the introduction in the relevant sections of the text, and to add prayers for pastoral application to other sections.

The Committee continues to focus its work on three audiences and three challenges:

Outsiders becoming insiders – learning from the ancient church how to do catechetical evangelism through patterned practices in an environment of warm, evangelical hospitality.
Forgetters becoming rememberers – renewing our commitment to lifelong catechesis””laying the foundation for all other ventures in discipleship; completing the revision of To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism.
Beloved children becoming belief-ful adults – rediscovering the crucial role of family for discipling our children for Christian life and mission.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Young Adults

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Newspaper, the Jubilate Deo

The front page article “The Pharisee Culture is Not Magnetic”:[Scott] Sauls Challenges Churches to “Love People, Institutions and Cities to Life” at Listen & Speak Conference” is highlighly recommended.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Parish Ministry, Theology

(IS) David Millard Haskell–Of Christmas and Church Closings

It’s also commonly asserted by our liberal critics that it is not the type of theology that matters for church growth but whether the theology is believed strongly and articulated clearly. However, we would suggest that different convictions, though equally strong and clear, produce different outcomes.

For example, all the growing church clergy in our study, because of their theological outlook, held the conviction that it is “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians.” As theological conservatives, these pastors believe Jesus is the only way to salvation and that they must “Go and make disciples everywhere.”

Conversely, half the clergy at the declining churches held the opposite conviction, believing it is not desirable to convert non-Christians. As theological liberals, these pastors believe there are many paths to salvation and that it’s culturally insensitive to peddle your beliefs on those outside your religious community. Comparing the two theological outlooks, which do you think is more likely to generate church growth?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Christology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Soteriology, Theology

Muslim Refugees In Britain See Jesus In Their Dreams – Convert+Spend First Christmas As Christians

Every person in this nativity tableau [see picture at link] bar one is spending their first Christmas as a Christian.

And two of them, a shepherd and an angel, were baptised at the very service in which they performed this nativity, to the music of a Christian version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

They are truly men and women from the East, being born again in a stable.

Their miraculous stories are among the remarkable events that have been taking place this year at St Mark’s, part of the Hanley team ministry in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, which has seen more than 50 Muslims convert to Christianity in one year alone.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(TLC) Is Anglicanism Growing or Dying? Statistics, the C of E, and the Anglican Communion

Overall, there has been significant decline in English Anglicanism since 1980, but limited growth as well. Between 1980 and 2013 the number of members on the electoral roll (a loose list of those who are church members) dropped by 41 percent and usual Sunday attendance dropped by 37 percent. The number of infants being baptised remains large, but is now decidedly a minority of the birth cohort (around 20%). All dioceses, apart from London, have shrunk in recent years. But the decline is highly varied. Dioceses farthest from London, such as Truro and Durham, have tended to decline fastest. In both cases, their usual Sunday attendance has halved between 1990 and 2014.

But such broad-brush figures about England conceal as well as reveal. The Diocese of London, having declined in the 1980s, saw its adult membership rise by over 70 percent between 1990 and 2010, rebounding back to where it was around 1980. It is unclear to what extent London is an outlier or a harbinger of the future. All other dioceses have seen their electoral roll fall in that time, most by substantial amounts. Below are the “top five” dioceses measured by electoral roll in 2013, compared with 1990. This measure has its flaws, but the picture it presents is backed up by other data.

Read it all from David Goodhew.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture