In his second article on the future of the Church, Tom Sine explains why we must rediscover our call to radical living. This could be a game-changer for our churches. As we seek to include the upcoming generations, we may be able to turn the tide and counteract the rapid decline of many churches in the West.
But even if we do this and reach outside the four walls of the Church, a problem remains. What should we do about the declining levels of participation in our vital core churches among those of us who already profess faith in Jesus? Those who are over 50 will remember a time when Christians would attend church on a Sunday morning and a Sunday evening, not to mention Wednesday night Bible studies.
But attendance at many churches in the West has now declined to just once or twice a month. In the US, per capita giving has declined from 3. I want to celebrate two seasons of accelerating participation that made a difference in the lives of many Christians around the world. When I started travelling to the UK in the late s I was surprised at how the movement seemed to touch not only all of the established churches, but also gave birth to a diverse variety of new house churches such as Pioneer and Ichthus Christian Fellowship.
The house church movement was booming in the 70s and 80s, and thousands of people of all ages were powerfully impacted. I witnessed many followers of Jesus freeing up more time and resources to make a difference in the lives of neighbours near and far.
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Participation rates seemed to be rapidly growing across a broad spectrum of churches in Britain. Fast forward to a sunny March day in , when Christian leaders from 27 countries had gathered in London. The Simple Lifestyle Movement was motivating Christians to be more active, more compassionate followers of Christ. By the mids, Christians across the UK and beyond had created an array of ways to live more simply.
This seemed to dramatically increase church participation levels. John Stott not only led this movement by his advocacy, but also through his own life in a way that would engage the millennial movement today.
He lived a very simple lifestyle in a very modest one-bedroom apartment until God called him home. Perhaps we need to recapture the flame of those movements from the 70s and 80s. The call to follow Christ always includes a call to both whole-life discipleship and whole-life stewardship. When my conservative evangelical friends seek to answer this question, they often claim that they bring scripture to bear on all of life. However, I find that they usually only bring scripture to bear on spiritual values, morality and relationships.
On the other hand, my more liberal evangelical friends bring scripture to bear on issues of economic, political and environmental justice. All of these things are important.
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However, each group fails to bring scripture to bear on cultural values. The global mall, which seeks to increase our appetite for more, has taken on the character of an economic empire. These imperial notions about what constitutes the good life largely define how we steward our time and money and how we raise our children. Could our declining levels of church participation be more than an issue of being too busy?
Jesus reminds us that the good life of God will never be found in seeking life but in losing life in service to God and neighbour. Heaven is where the future of God is kept, but it is not my home!
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He explained that what we are looking forward to is coming home as a great, multicultural, bodily resurrected community; not to the clouds, but to a new heaven and a new earth. My imagination is always ignited by the powerful poetry of Isaiah.
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What Does the Bible Say About Church Membership and Attendance?
This book is the real repost to those who argue that we live in a secular society of declining church membership. We dont. But we do live in a country where people define church membership on their own terms not ours. Learning to understand that and serving people spiritually where they are is your churchs first step to rediscovering its historic mission to British society and enabling your ministry to continue among those whose faith is waiting to be rekindled. Add to comparison chart Compare Products.
Alan Billings shares his wide experience to help and encourage you in finding the membership the church hasnt so much lost as simply overlooked. Alan shows how the majority of the British public still have an affection and distant attachment to the Anglican Church they just dont attend on any frequent occasions. But theyre still there, still have an interest and need for God and are the largest section of the Church of England.
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