Are worship styles part of the church's decline?

Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
edited July 2018 in Ecclesiantics
Whose story are we trying to tell? Read article before commenting.


  • Er...the link merely leads to your OP!

  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    I took the liberty of fixing your link.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited July 2018
    Thanks, Miss Amanda.

    Having perused the link, I'm none the wiser, but I think the answer to the question in the OP might be Yes.

    Or perhaps No.

    I'll leave it to less befuddled Shipmates to essay a more sensible reaction...

    Personally, I think the reason for church decline might be the fact that the Holy Spirit is taking a holiday, at least as far as the Western World is concerned.

    If the Western church is still preaching the Gospel, and celebrating the Sacraments (as Our Lord commanded), then it's not taking a holiday.


  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    I took the liberty of fixing your link.

    Thank you, my bad. Should have previewed it.
  • It seems he's saying "We mustn't cater to every whim. We can't go back to some particular point in the past. We must design a new worship experience along the lines I am laying out here." I am thankful I belong to a church that hasn't tried to be "relevant" with its worship, but keeps on trotting out the same old irrelevant worship we've had for centuries.
  • Dammit, on the old ship if you started your edit on time you could take longer than 2 minutes to finish.

    It seems he's saying "We mustn't cater to every whim. We can't go back to some particular point in the past. We must design a new worship experience along the lines I am laying out here." It's a tall order. I hope the people who feel the need to fulfill it are able to find a solution. The only solution I know of is that of the EOC.

    (What follows is self-indulgent crowing about my Church, albeit with a hopefully illuminating example. Feel free to skip.)

    I am thankful I belong to a church that hasn't tried to be "relevant" with its worship, but keeps on trotting out the same old irrelevant worship we've had for centuries. We sort of live out the antidote to the lie (well stated), “life is a story about me.” In Orthodoxy it's about US. Very much a communal thing. One example that comes to mind is fasting. We fast together, in the same way, and so we can hold each other up, commiserate, share "lenten" recipes. It's not, "here is what *I* myself personally am giving up for Lent."
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    I think the linked article makes a lot of sense. There's another perspective on it too from a Church of England context: in our mobile society many people move frequently from one place to another, and hence churchpeople seek another church in which to worship. But the pick and mix nature of worship in many churches means that 'Anglican worship' can mean something radically different from parish to parish. Someone having been accustomed to Common Worship parish communion is going to feel very much out of place in a non-liturgical, non-sacramental 'praise songs' kind of church. And vice versa. Many such people will understandably just give up and cease regular worship.
  • I didn't read it as he was stipulating a return to 'old' firms or recommending new ones, simply drawing attention to the uncontroversial (unless you are non-sacramental) observation that the Eucharist should be central and that we need some form of liturgy.

    Is the Pope a Catholic?
  • cliffdwellercliffdweller Shipmate
    edited July 2018
    mousethief wrote: »
    It seems he's saying "We mustn't cater to every whim. We can't go back to some particular point in the past. We must design a new worship experience along the lines I am laying out here." I am thankful I belong to a church that hasn't tried to be "relevant" with its worship, but keeps on trotting out the same old irrelevant worship we've had for centuries.

    Yeah, I found nothing new in the article. It's seems like he's come to the modern (probably American) church and discovered... (*shock*!) it's full of consumerists acting out of their consumerist worldview-- mostly about (*shock*!) music (which surely is a DH topic?).

    Not that I disagree, or even with his assessment that consumerism is a root problem in the church's decline. Just that it's not really as profound or insightful as he seems to think it is.

    As for his not-all-that-original suggestions: Really, I saw this coming a mile off-- because they're always the same. "The problem with the Church is that it's consumerist! Stop wanting what you want! Instead you should want {insert author's preferred worship style}".

    So the author likes traditional liturgical worship. And there's a lot to be said for that. But I resent his implication that it somehow is less of a consumerist self-serving choice than contemporary worship.

  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    This was my thought; he doesn't have a preferred worship style the way speakers of RP don't have an accent.

    Moreover large swathes of the church aren't offering various worship styles but they're suffering just the same. People aren't interested.
  • I agree with the author when he says upfront that he’s being overly simplistic. He is.

    I disagree with him when he says it’s misguided to think that “music can usher us into a divine encounter“ or that music is a mystical connector. I’m not saying it always does or always is, but it unquestionably can be, at least for many people. (And I’m not limiting that to any particular style or genre of music.)

    Otherwise, what @cliffdweller said.

    And @mousethief, I do think there is much we in the Western churches could learn from Orthodoxy.
  • I think Karl has nailed it. 'People aren't interested.'

    It doesn't matter whether we've got lite-rock musical styles on offer, chant, organ voluntaries, hymns, anthems, trance, whatever else. They aren't interested.

    If we have no music at all like the Quakers, they still aren't interested. We can have Bach and Allegri. Not interested. We can have drum and bass. Not interested.

    The reality is that nobody gives a flying fart what we do or don't do on a Sunday. If we were caring for the poor, doing good works and loving our neighbours as ourselves then perhaps they might, just might ...

    Even then there's no guarantee.

    On Mousethief's point about Orthodox worship. As an Orthophile, I have a lot of sympathy with that but I don't see people queueing round the block for that, although our nearest parish was completely packed at Easter with Eastern Europeans they won't see again until next year ...

    Why aren't people interested? There's a raft of reasons for that and worship style of whatever kind can't be isolated from all the many and varied factors and put out as the prime cause.

    I wasn't sure what the author was actually suggesting as an alternative. If you said to our vicar that the Eucharist should be central, he'd agree - even though some of us in the parish wouldn't consider that he takes it seriously enough.

    I have no idea what the answer is. If nobody is interested then we may as well all do our own thing.

    I don't like saying that but there it is. Being Orthodox is a consumer choice for Westerners just much as turning Catholic, Quaker, Pentecostal, Baptist or whatever else.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I don’t think worships styles are anything to do with the church’s decline. If people aren’t interested, they aren’t interested. If people are interested, if it is God they are seeking and focusing on, I think people adapt to different ways of worship. No way is perfect. God is perfect.

    The author of the article says this:
    But worship isn’t something we do for God, nor is music a mystical connector. Worship is about God’s divine impressions on us through word and sacrament, not our human expressions.

    I’m not sure it’s as simple as that, nor have I come across evidence for this as a definitive description of worship. We are human, and we each come to God with our human expression, our human cultures and experiences and personalities and strengths and limitations. We can’t - and shouldn’t - obliterate this from worship.

    I grew up going to evangelical churches, and in these environments I encountered a lot of criticism of liturgical worship. Now I go to liturgical churches and I come across quite a bit of criticism of evangelicals and non-liturgical worship. And the underlying basis of all the criticism, on either side, seems to be the same - that the style of worship gets in the way of the person encountering God, that they are putting human preferences above God.

    And for every type of worship I have experienced, I would say that, yes, for some people this can be the case. And perhaps would be the case whichever church they went to. But for many people it is not the case. Because God transcends all this. God has made his ‘divine impression’ on me both in evangelical and liturgical churches. My worship was as meaningful in both.

  • CathscatsCathscats Shipmate
    I read the article after last night attending the closing ceremony of an evangelistic programme where the "worship" was all songs about "me" and "my" place with God, where the students leaving the programme were constantly commented for their individual growth with God and were told that God has great things for them individually, where scripture which I know was written to be applied communally to God's people as a whole was applied individually, and where communion was "served" as a serve-yourself, after a brief prayer, with no contact with or mention of the body of Christ.

    What I read in the article chimed very well with my deep misgivings about the ceremony I had been at. I don't know if his concussions regarding liturgy are the only possible concussions to arrive at, but the earlier part of what he said is right.

    Alas, all too true, especially (but not exclusively, of course), in Our Place's inner-city, urban, transient population.

    I briefly discussed this very question with today's priest - a charismatic-evo, who is quite happy (bless him, and thanks be to God for him) to adapt himself on most Sundays to our Anglo-Catholic practices.

    His simple answer was to continue in prayer - for our parish generally, and for individuals personally - to be ourselves, and to wait for the Lord to do (through his Holy Spirit) whatever he desires.

    The said priest is planning to begin a Confirmation/First Communion/Nurture course at Our Place next Sunday....


  • I agree with all that, fineline.

    I also have enormous sympathy with what Cathscats has written.

  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    edited July 2018
    I think people go to God to fill a need they can't fill elsewhere. If they don't feel a need, they won't come. Even "spiritual" needs can be filled elsewhere. I can't remember who invented the term "God-shaped hole" but either it's not really there, or people no longer can feel it, or they are using other things (anodynes perhaps but they "work" well enough) to fill it.

    ETA: If Trump manages to crash the world economy, the churches might see a huge rise in inquirers.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I wonder, the thing Cathscats has written, is it unique to evangelicals? My experience is limited, but I am thinking of an American I know online who describes herself as a devout Catholic, who is working on a personal spiritual efficacy plan. She showed me the details and it’s very self-focused. I am thinking also of a conversation I had recently with a Spanish Catholic, about vocation - and it seemed very based on the idea that if you are doing something and it feels right and easy, then this is your vocation, that God has chosen just for you. I suspect I am over-simplifying, and there was a bit of a language barrier, but I find often that conversations with Anglicans and Catholics about vocation seems in some ways more based on self and individuality than what I am used to. I think in the West our culture simply is individualistic - there are pros and cons to this (from talking to Malaysian people about their very different culture) - but I think culture seeps into all religious worship in different ways. And some differences, within the UK at least, seem based on social class differences.
  • Certainly the music thing is not evangelical specific -- consider the "folk mass" introduced by Vatican II in 1965.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Most of the hymns we sing at the Catholic church I go to are hymns we sung at evangelical churches. I know some of them better than many of the cradle Catholics do. I haven’t noticed a difference, music-wise. Except for the fact that some hymns are about Mary. And there are parts of the liturgy that are sung.

    A difference in participation I’ve noticed: in Baptist churches, pretty much everyone joined in singing the hymns, and with gusto, and in Catholic churches many don’t, and there is not a lot of gusto, and sometimes I am aware I’m singing louder than most people. Though this is just my experience of a few churches. It might not be a norm.

    Personally, hymns have been pivotal in helping me see my faith as something way bigger than me. As has Baptist communion with ‘little cuppies,’ which the Catholic church does not recognise as real.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    From my limited experience of 'Protestant' churches, particularly those with no set liturgy, the hymns often replace the liturgical set pieces which many of those who attend Catholic or Anglican churches think of as basic expressions of faith. For example, many people with a Presbyterian background will be able to recite a few lines of a popular hymn much more easily than to recite a few lines of the Nicene creed.

    With reference to the Baptist communion with 'little cuppies' I am sure that it is not because of the 'little cuppies' that the Catholic Church does not recognise it as 'real'.

    It would be better to say that the Catholic church does not recognise, for Catholics,the Baptist Communion service as the equivalent, for Catholics, of a Catholic Mass, nor indeed would the Baptist community itself.

    Again my limited knowledge of Baptists tell me that each individual, and certainly each individual congregation has considerable freedom to determine its principles and beliefs.

    As mentioned on a number of threads certain communities, amongst them the Catholic church sees themselves as one community of believers, where the eucharist is presided over only by those who have been commissioned to do so.

    Even if they do so, Catholics should NOT see a Baptist communion service as not real for those who belong to Baptist communities.

  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Forthview, yes, you are right, it is not specifically because of the ‘little cuppies’ they say it is not real - I mentioned ‘little cuppies’ because I have seen it used as a derogatory term on the Ship, and I’d never heard the term before, but it is the term used here and I wanted to explain it was that kind of communion with ‘little cuppies’ that has been meaningful to me. But it is the whole communion the Catholics see as not a real communion - which I was told by the priest I had catechesis with - because of it being seen as symbolic, and the fact the leftover bread can be thrown out for the birds to eat, as it is not seen as actually being Jesus. Most Catholic priests I’ve spoken to have this view, that it is not a real communion, but just a bunch of people eating bread and drinking grape juice, whose motives might be sincere but are very misguided. I don’t agree.
  • I would agree that what the author says isn't particularly novel or freshly insightful - at least to most here - but then perhaps that is the point - there are still people on a journey ending with finding out that the church is riven with consumerism.

    And I don't necessarily think what he's calling for in the section on liturgy is necessarily a return to 'traditional liturgy' in the sense, I think he's calling for worship to be anchored to a sense of the liturgical that goes beyond the immediate [I don't think that's a stretch from that final sentence in the paragraph].

    And yes, people aren't interested - but even some of the folk in this thread - who presumably *are* slightly interested - have commented on sense of anomie they've felt in the church.
  • Yes, I think most of us probably feel a sense of anomie at times. It's normal.

    On the communion thing, one of the most powerful communion experiences I've had was in a small, unprepossessing Baptist chapel in South Wales. No fanfare, build up or wha-ha-hoo but simply someone giving a short exposition before what would be described as the 'words of institution' elsewhere and suddenly a light bulb went on in my head and the heavens seemed to open. No flashing lights, simply a sense that in some way 'God was in this place and I did not know it ... this is the house of God, this is the gate of heaven.'

    I felt something similar at an Orthodox Vespers years later with no eucharist involved.

    I don't know what 'clicked', but there was a sense that I was involved in something cosmic and far, far, far bigger than me. I felt something similar in conversation with an RC priest on another occasion.

    The sense that I was on the threshold of eternity, of the Mystery of faith.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    What opened my eyes to communion was an explanation by a rabbi (not a Messianic one, just an ordinary one, and without any suggestion that he was explaining anything to do with our practice) many years ago of what Jews did at Passover and at their seders. It instantly cleared out a lot of misunderstood and poorly explained or ingested rubbish that had somehow cluttered this up for me.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    I have no doubt that Christians of all sorts can have real and meaningful spiritual experiences, including at times at a Baptist communion service. My point is that, for Catholics, the only type of acceptable, 'real' Catholic Mass is one which is celebrated by a Catholic priest.

    In the same way the Baptist community might well accept that a Catholic Mass is okay for Catholics, but would classify as 'unreal' a number of ideas which the Catholic church teaches as happening during the celebration of Mass.
  • I think Karl has nailed it. 'People aren't interested.'

    The reality is that nobody gives a flying fart what we do or don't do on a Sunday. If we were caring for the poor, doing good works and loving our neighbours as ourselves then perhaps they might, just might
    I don't they will even then. They just might when something affects them - then they might care if the church does a good job in meeting their expectations

    It emphasises the consumerist nature (of church and life) - it's all on our terms. We have become god (even if it's just in our own minds). We call the shots and, if it isn't sufficiently about us we walk away, often leaving chaos in our wake. Perhaps we need to learn to continue the growing up process

    EM: on the way to the door

  • I am fortunate in having a number of "un-churched" and "de-churched" in the family: their comments on what they find on the rare occasions when they go to church (often, but not always, for weddings, funerals and baptisms) are illuminating.

    I can make a few generalisations: the de-churched show up bored, the un-churched become bored. Both are highly critical of what could be described as the standard of presentation: in particular, they complain about
    • late starting of services
    • lack of clear direction in orders of service, especially with regard to posture
    • people presiding trying to make jokes
    • an overall air of amateurishness
    • being overwhelmed with paper (notices, pew sheet, special appeal, giving envelope, etc)
    • an air of smug "aren't we wonderful" in people presiding/ helping
    • what seem to be personal attacks from the pulpit
    • obviously dirty vestments
    • overloud music, especially from "worship groups"
    • monotonous repetition of songs/ choruses
    • slides/ sheets littered with spelling mistakes
    • intrusive questioning from "greeters"
    • perhaps most worrying, a sense that the service was not properly prepared

    Of the de-churched, a couple have started to go to the occasional "normal" service, but only because they can go to a cathedral where both describe things (in different cathedrals) as well-run and both remark that there is a clear structure to what goes on. I think there is a possibility that these two might eventually return to regular worship but only if they can be in a place where they feel the whole business of taking the service is properly prepared - as both remarked, they expect it to be taken seriously.

    Two un-churched relatives by marriage have reported being so enraged by what they described as the "antics" of the person taking a service with baptism that they wanted to know who they should complain to - that worries be deeply. Having listened to what they said went on (and seen some video footage) I was shocked: I've chickened out of helping them complain but have given them the title of archdeacon as being a person with overall responsibility for clergy - I don't know if they've acted on it.

    Now the worship styles between the services attended was across a spectrum from very traditional to very informal: there tended to be more complaints about the latter, but the traditional didn't escape censure.

    Make of that what you will, but what comes across loud and clear is that structure and thought are needed and wanted, and there seems to be a frightening lack of one or both in some places.
  • Yes, I think most of us probably feel a sense of anomie at times. It's normal.

    At some level yes - though I think within a context where a more than a few people in church (who presumably *are* 'interested') feel a sense of anomie that goes on for years and years, then something is wrong and the concerns in the article (however original or not we think they are) remain valid.

    Your illustration supports his broader 'liturgical' point, doesn't it ?
  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    TheOrganist, your findings echo mine.

    I often find myself wondering why people go to a particular church or favour a particular style of service, and it seems to me there are as many reasons as there are people, which fits with the individualistic consumerist idea.

    For some, and it is partly true for me, it is continuing with what they were brought up in, but looking around I observe that hardly any of my generation have adult children who are churchgoers. Our children are too busy with family life at the weekends, with sporting events, visiting relatives etc. And whatever they may still believe deep down, churchgoing is not important enough to be in their schedule. This may lead in some cases to faith not being important in their lives at all.
    Then there are those who have not been churchgoers earlier but presumably they are led to a particular church by some means and settle there as it meets their need. They may be attracted to stay by the type of music, or friendships, or the teaching or liturgy but often it is just settling for what they know.
    I guess those who make a deliberate decision about settling for a particular style of worship will have experienced several styles and will know what suits them, what they find comfortable, or more probably what they want to avoid.
    As for those currently outside, I am not sure that it matters what we do, as they are not interested.
    I would certainly think that the welcome on offer is more important than the style of worship, if they have nothing to compare it with. The time of day may also be a crucial factor for some.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    The Organist came up with a great list. Many of the points I think dovetail into the article I first cited.

    Regards the presiding minister trying to tell jokes. I hope that is not during the liturgy! However, I can see a place for jokes during the sermon. They often are remembered long after the sermon has ended. But they have to stay to the point, IMHO.
  • No jokes in the sermon, unless they are:
    a) EXACTLY to the point
    b) funny (and definitely not an old joke everyone heard years ago)
    c) told well

    It still amazes me that some people feel that they have to start EVERY sermon with a joke. Quite apart from the fact that such people often can't tell a joke well, they do not seem to realise that the first 30 seconds of any sermon is when people will decide whether to listen or tune out. If you want to be remembered as a joker, start your sermon with a joke. If you want people to take what you have to say seriously, DON'T!

    (Humour has a part to play in preaching (as in most things) but the most effective way of doing this is to allow the humour to come naturally. I've often found that an off-the-cuff comment or even a pause at the right moment can create a laugh that works WITH the sermon, rather than against it.)
  • Good advice. We have a lovely priest who visits occasionally, but whose jokes are painfully painful, as in really painful painy things......alas, as you say, those are the bits of his sermons we remember (painfully).

    When he doesn't try to be jocular, he preaches really good, short, sharp sermons - I can recall one in particular, which was thoroughly encouraging, and took about two minutes (it was a weekday Eucharist!).

  • I think TheOrganist's list is instructive too, although I'm left wondering what the 'shocking' antics of the clergyperson at the baptism consisted of ...
  • ChoristerChorister Shipmate
    What resonated with me most in the article was the last sentence:
    We need to be the church on Sunday, so that we can be the church every other day.

    Perhaps there is too much focus on exactly what should happen for one hour on a Sunday, and not enough on how we can be the church for all of the rest of the week.
  • Well yes, absolutely.
  • And, oddly enough, that's often been the underlying theme of recent sermons from the retired (PTO) chap who is virtually our de facto priest-in-charge at the moment.

    Maybe the fact that he's a Church Army Evangelist has something to do with it!

  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    edited July 2018
    Please forgive me when I confess that I did not read the article before I started reading the responses. It began to dawn upon me that I was reading about the views of an American - so I did go to the article.
    Bishops Finger made a comment about the Holy Spirit being absent from the 'Western World.' Might I suggest that there is indeed a European exceptionalism going in here that renders the market model of church growth, seen in the US, as totally irrelevant.

    In the UK and Europe it simply is not true that people everyone is religious and all we have t do is find out what these religious consumers want and they will come. This might be true for the US with its long history of independent religion and entrepreneurial ministries, but here in the UK that is not going to work.

    Here, a mere 25% of people under 24 describe themselves as having any religion at all. That is a massive population in that age group of atheists or at best agnostics. Even in my age group (55) I believe the figures only rise to something like 45% who describe themselves as having a religion.

    The church over here, therefore, is not in the business of merely persuading the unattached-but-looking population that 'our church suits you' we're actually in the situation where most people don't know the story, don't need the story, don't want the story - and when they hear it, they just don't believe it. Oh the insults we read over here about 'sky-fairies' and the like. Brits just do not believe in 'God' let alone Jesus and the story of salvation. And it doesn't matter whether this fairy story is told with bits of bread and wine and a choir in a Medieaval Cathedral, or with a U2-style worship band in a theatre.

    Look, we've had the enlightenment, two world wars, Nazism, Communism, and massive secularism. In the UK we've also got huge media and entertainment atheism: our popular TV scientists - David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins, Brian Cox - and the late Stephen Hawking - have all spoken into the atheistic worldview. Our entertainers: Stephen Fry (God's a bastard), Ricky Gervais, the Australian-but-popular-here Tim Minchin, and others, all openly mock Christian religion, let alone the Church.

    We've also either got a weak state church, which sociological studies show hinders and hampers church growth.

    Secularism in Europe - especially North Western and UK - has given us a population that quite simply does not see itself as in need of Jesus Christ as any kind of needed spiritual benefit; they don't see the need for church to fulfil any social or moral needs.

    Quite simply the Church is in freefall but there is one glimmer of light:
    The Pentecostal churches are growing.

    Admittedly the growth is nowhere near enough to offset the haemorrhage from the other churches but where churches are growing they are always Pentecostal.
  • Well said, Mudfrog, though I'm not sure I would concur 100% with your last sentence - I'd insert 'almost' before 'always'!

    Or, perhaps to put it another way, we need conversion rather than revival.

  • Mudfrog wrote: »
    <snip>Admittedly the growth is nowhere near enough to offset the haemorrhage from the other churches but where churches are growing they are always Pentecostal.

    Not so. One of our nearest Big Towns had a pentecostal plant which has since closed. It was yet another case of episcopal enthusiam and ignorance over-riding evidence on the ground, local demographic and common sense.
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    Yes of course; but I didn't say that all Pentecostal churches grow.
  • No, you didn't, and ISWYM.

    BUT there are (tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon!) growing churches which would not necessarily describe themselves as 'Pentecostal'.

    Inspired and enthused by the Holy Spirit, however - yes! And therein lies the glimmer of hope of which you speak.

  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    You are quite correct. I had considered including 'Charismatic' but I forgot to go back and add the word in. I realise that there are 'traditional' sacramental churches that have 'come alive in the Spirit' and who maintain their doctrines and practices in the context of revival and renewal.

    As the Salvation Army song has it:
    Look down and see this waiting host,
    Give us the promised Holy Ghost;
    We want another Pentecost!*
    Send the fire! Send the fire! Send the fire!

    *as in 'experience'; not a repeat of the initial giving of the Spirit by the risen Christ.
  • Mudfrog wrote: »
    In the UK and Europe it simply is not true that people everyone is religious and all we have t do is find out what these religious consumers want and they will come. This might be true for the US with its long history of independent religion and entrepreneurial ministries, but here in the UK that is not going to work.
    This is working less and less in the US. Sheep stealing won't grow the church. There are plenty of people who consider themselves Christians who darken the church doors twice a year, or not at all, and the number of "nones" -- people who profess no religion at all -- grows steadily. You may have gotten a head start on us, but we'll get there too, given time. The current violent hypocrisy of 70% of our white evangelicals is no doubt accelerating our pace toward godlessness.
  • We may need to pass through a period of very low numbers of Christians -- much lower than even Europe -- for quite a long time before people are ready to hear the gospel. I'm afraid the sins of the church world wide have made our witness nearly useless.
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    Which is often why revival comes through new movements that are untainted by the history of the older churches.
  • I think that was more true in the past than is possible now. Any Christian movement, revivalist or otherwise, is going to be tainted by the fuck-up we collectively have made of Christian witness, particularly in the last 50 years, but indeed going back the whole way.
  • Mudfrog wrote: »

    Admittedly the growth is nowhere near enough to offset the haemorrhage from the other churches but where churches are growing they are always Pentecostal.

    Is it not just the case that churches in London are growing, and London has a high concentration of people who are immigrants or descended from immigrants from countries where Pentecostalism is common? Likewise there are plenty of other churches growing, particularly cathedrals (St. Mary's Glasgow springs to mind, but there are plenty of others). Unless by churches you means denominations rather than local churches, in which case you really do need to account for immigration.
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    No I was referring to the situation in Europe as a continent.
    You are right that there is a whole lot of immigration going on but, in the case of one London church I have read about, the congregation is transient and comprises mostly students and professionals who are here from Nigeria and who plan on going back. It's a rolling membership.
    It doesn't reach the community.
  • Hmm. We have a number of transients (yes, Nigerians!), but, for the time being, they are part of our community, such as it is, given that they live in the parish.

    As I've said before, we may turn into some sort of Eucharistic pit-stop for these folk - and others - who come and go with bewildering rapidity.

    In which case, I doubt whether changing our worship style would make a lot of difference.

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