The census numbers are in and they confirm what many of have long suspected. There has been a collapse in allegiance to the Christian faith. It's down from 72% to 59% in a decade. And the number claiming no religious faith is up from 14% to 25%.
What the numbers don't tell us about is church attendance. That continues to bump along the bottom of a 1500 year low. What it does confirm is the ebbing of the Christian story from the wider culture. Fewer people feel the need to claim any allegiance to it - hence the fall in those claiming affinity with the Christian religion and the rise in those eschewing religion altogether.
The numbers are probably good news. Of course, there'll be wild scare stories about an imminent Muslim take-over of the land (after all, they now account for just under 5% of the population). But the good news lies in the fact that we are, at last, seeing the stripping away of the carapace of Christendom, that smoke-screen that the church has hidden behind for too long.
Now we see for real that we are in a missional situation in the UK. The old rules do not apply; old forms of church and outreach look increasingly antique and so, whether they have any aesthetic appeal or museum value, they are no longer fit for the purpose of making Jesus known in twenty-first century Britain.
So, it's time to follow Jesus and invite others to join us and see what kind of communities form as we do so. Who'd have thought the census could make such exciting reading!
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The good news in the census numbers
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Thank you for this Simon I agree so much with this
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