I've been inspired recently by a number of books/reports/conversations about the future of the church. In particular I just finshed the CofE Report from a few years ago 'Mission-Shaped Church'. I don't suppose it will be of any surprise to you to know that it totally struck a chord with me. What I find frustrating is that it seems most of the church are comepletely ignoring it, so what is the point in the 'management' commissioning a report and then doing little about it? The report basically challenges some long-held beliefs about church attendance, and raises potential ways of looking to the future. Yet in my own experience the age-old petty squabbles and arguments of the traditional church are still ongoing. As a member of a fresh expressions church, all too often I hear the complaint that our church is 'sheep stealing' from other local churches. To which I have little sympathy. and I mean none. If you cannot provide the spiritual nourishment that your parishoners need, don't complain when they go elsewhere. I had a conversation recently with someone related to ministry, nowhere near our church I shuold say, but where there was a similar plant in her area and she was bringing up the same accusations. And, 'if only we had had those resources...', 'if a few couples came and livened up our congregation'... It was sooooo defeatist. If you want to change your church, DO IT! It's no good not wanting to alienate people. I'm sorry to say it, but most of those who would be annoyed by change will be dead in 20 years (or 10...)... Now I am not anti- the more traditional approach to church, as I have said before I recognise there is a place for it, but what I am anti is when people moan about falling numbers but are not prepared to do anything about it. And I can think of several examples near me where that is the case...
What 'Mission-Shaped church' talks about a lot is the need to 'go to people' rather than expecting them to come to us, which is something I have been banging on about for ages. no one told me I could have been quoting from a CofE report (and I probably wouldnt have believed tham anyway!) A line in the report says:
Yet there is still considerable resistance in practice to giving church plants and fresh expressions of church the right to Anglican citizenship. In a few cases the process of acceptance and recognition has been so reluctant and slow that valuable resources to the Church of England have been lost.
By valuable resources I am assuming they mean skilled people, again which I have seen. People so disillusioned that they go somewhere else, often outside the CofE. So what are we doing about it? Not enough frankly. WAKE UP SLEEPERS...! where will the church & Christianity in ths country be in 50 years time if we don't seriously addresss this NOW?
I am thinking about Pioneer ministry. Can you tell...?