Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More basic questions

More friends have arrived from Prague.

We were chatting last night about what constituted church planting and whether a small but established church could be more pioneering than a church planting team moving into an area with a blank sheet of paper.

On top of asking what Christians should do when they gather, it seems like I'm always having conversations about fundamental questions regarding church life.

Perhaps the reason for this is that churches generally are struggling to engage with the wider culture generally, and each local community more specifically. it's true that most churches can point to people who have joined recently - indeed a steady, if small trickle of newcomers. That most of these are existing Christians shifting church for various reasons is beyond dispute; but there are a few people coming to faith.

But this is in a context of decline - fewer people overall this year than last across the UK - and so more fundamental questions really ought to be being asked rather more widely. Hence these two posts that ask what Christians should do when they gather and how the creation of new gatherings might be best achieved.

No doubt I'll continue to muse on this, but others' comments are always welcome.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Forgive me for asking the obvious.

If churchgoing is in decline and the only newcomers are from other churches, doesn't it actually beg a completely different question?

Shouldn't you be asking why people aren't becoming Christians - not why they aren't attending church? I would have thought if you get more Christians, you'd get more churchgoers?

Why is it that other religions are growing when Christianity, certainly in the Western World, is declining?

Perhaps you could ask yourself what other religions offer that Christianity, in its current form in the UK, doesn't?

Has Christianity become so diluted that people haven't a clue what you stand for? Perhaps the general public are so bored by theological debates in the C of E, flabby introspection from the free churches and a complete lack of cohesive thought, that they've switched off.

Perhaps the inevitable decline of rampant consumerism of the last decade will focus people's minds on more spiritual things?

From an outsider's perspective, I wonder if the church actually went back to simple fundamentals and addressed the very human needs of poverty, pain, suffering and wretchedness it might gain more recruits?

The media bombards everyone with images of people of influence. The UK is criticised for its obsession with celebrity culture. Where are the Christian heroes of influence?

And what about gun crime, knife crime and cyber crime? Where are the Christians speaking out?

Personally, most people couldn't give a fig about what Christians do when they meet. They see them as irrelevant to their lives.

Unless there is a wholesale re-evaluation of the purpose of Church - in all its forms - it will fade away without protest.

If you want it to survive, you've got to get real. And explain to the ordinary man - whether they're in Bromley or Birmingham - why they should be bothered.

That might be a start.