“If you keep doing do the same things, you’ll get the same results”
As we look to the future what trajectory are we on as the Church? If we keep on going the same way, doing the same things, with the same mentality, what will our destination be?
Let’s take a look at the present landscape:
We live in a country where less than 6% will have attended a church service in the last month*. Almost two-thirds of our population are either non-churched or de-churched and are closed off to the idea of entering a church door. Perhaps even more shockingly, less than half of those who would consider themselves “Christian” actually believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Research confirms that the Church is least effective at reaching the young, the poor and the men in our communities. Yet aren’t these exactly the people that Jesus mixed with?
What would a young fisherman or carpenter make of the Church in the UK today?
Where have we gone wrong? We know something needs to change. But what? And how?
Our culture constantly bombards us with temptations to buy into a quick fix mentality. Minimum effort for maximum output. A winning formula. More for less. Low cost, high reward. Instant returns.
“Drop a dress size in a week”
“Follow 6 simple steps to become a millionaire”
“Buy this excessive widescreen TV and pay nothing for 3 years”
Everyone wants to tell us they have the magic keys, the ultimate product which will return guaranteed success. It seems the church has absorbed some of that culture. How much do we latch on to a quick-fix solution to try and boost dying churches and congregations? Do we stop to consider what the long term effects will be?
Do we take our lead from Jesus or from the latest strategy?
Many are reacting to the church in crisis. Exactly that: Reacting. The church alarm bells are ringing and we’re getting a wake-up call. But when we’re in crisis we often react to solve the immediate problem, rather than looking at what’s behind it. We deal with the mess we’re in, rather than addressing how we got there in the first place.
In response to the growing disillusionment, disinterest and decline, many of our churches have reacted by employing specific strategies. Some churches have employed more or younger staff. Some have aimed at better Bible teaching, others have gone for more charismatic services, or increased evangelistic activity. Better coffee. Better welcome. Free food for students. Great kids and youth work. The list goes on.
In themselves, these are all good things. Each of these methods has seen some measure of change and success at different points.
But if this is all that’s needed, then surely there are already enough vehicles out there.
Enough books. Enough “experts”.
And yet the Church is still declining.
Could it be that we’re asking the wrong questions?
Not “how do we do mission?”
Not “what’s the best vehicle for breakthrough?”
Not “how do we get more people through the door and then keep them?”
Not even “how do we grow church?”
Jesus never asked those questions.
He didn’t even try to answer them. What he gave us was a model in His life. A model of something beautifully simple, yet immeasurably fruitful. He then shared this life with a core group of disciples and the world around Him. And at the end of that life He gave this group of disciples a Great Commission to go and replicate this model. This way of living. This way of leading. This way of being Good News.
This same Great Commission applies to us today. The challenge to be a disciple that makes disciples.
The decline we see in the UK Church will surely continue unless we begin to take the life and commission of Jesus seriously.
This blog will share the experience we have as a local church striving to engage & answer these questions over the past 20 years. We are not the finished article but have learnt along the journey from innovation & pioneering, as well as from others.
We’re inviting others to join us on the journey. For more info get in touch….
(Sources for statistics include a YouGov Poll from 2011 and Tearfund “Churchgoing in the UK” Survey, which can be found at www.whychurch.org.uk)