Church Attendance Rising (guess where)

In England:

ISLINGTON, LONDON, UK (ANS) – Church attendances in the United Kingdom, in freefall for so long, have started to rise again, particularly in Britain’s capital city.

Numbers on the electoral rolls are increasing by well over two per cent every year, while some churches have seen truly dramatic rises in numbers, according to Peter Oborne, writing for the Daily Telegraphnewspaper.

Oborne says change is afoot in Britain’s churches. He says that with the chill wind of austerity blowing through the country, religion’s warm embrace looks more and more inviting. Oborne welcomes the resurgence of a national pastime: churchgoing.

Oborne writes that for many years it was accepted that Christianity was all but dead, an anachronistic relic of the past whose foundations had been destroyed by modern science and rationalism, before being left behind by the cultural and sexual revolution of the ’60s.

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://leadme.org Cal

    “Oborne welcomes the resurgence of a national pastime: churchgoing.”

    I don’t know if this was Oborne’s speech or the author of the article being witty; but this is the problem.

    When the Church becomes some piece of cultural furniture, vogue or not, it has destroyed the message of the Gospel. So what if Britons are going somewhere on Sunday mornings, the temptation to become to engaged in Statecraft/Culturecraft is corrupting.

    Doing Constantine right is always following Christ wrong.

  • phil_style

    I’ll be looking out for the Guardian’s article on this…

  • http://pioneerminister.wordpress.com tallandrew

    This trend can be seen in the church of england’s official figures on attendance. Post Christendom, the UK experienced a quite dramatic decline in attendance. Most of those with nominal belief or who were going for cultural reasons stopped going. The result is that those that were left really wanted to go – they had made an individual conscious choice to do so, against the prevailing mood of the times.

    So we have churches now filled with less people but who are more committed, and who are beginning think outside the box in terms of mission, evangelism and church planting.

    There is quite a significant contribution being made by those affiliated with the Fresh Expressions network, who are starting mission activities which are appealing to those who have had no interest in church or a history of churchgoing. Added to that, of course, is the continued traditional church planting being done by churches such as HTB (home of Alpha).

    Rest assured (comment #1) that the upturn has nothing to do with cultural expectations (Constantine) and everything to to with Gods Spirit genuinely drawing people to faith in Christ. These are encouraging signs but there is still a lot of work to do.

  • Robert A

    Exciting news. I have heard much about the growth of evangelical movements in the UK and Europe, glad to see others reporting in now.

    The last statement of the piece is the kind of intellectual hubris of humanism that has robbed our world of credulity and morality. Nothing has been destroyed by the impish armies if this world.

  • http://leadme.org Cal

    TallAndrew:

    Then I’m overjoyed :)

  • http://missionaljourneyman.com Adam Gonnerman

    I’m not sure why the larger economic situation would necessarily be the cause, and I would find it sad if that were the case. It could be immigrants skewing the numbers, better tracking, “successful” methods of proselytism or any number/combination of other factors causing this apparent resurgence.

  • TJJ

    Very good news! I hope it really is true and representative of a true spiritual awakening in England. Such a great Christian heritage in Britian. Oh that such would be the case throughout western Europe.

  • Timothy

    London is something of a special case in England. I worship at a church in South London which 20 years ago was a thriving (by English standards) church of around 400. About 90% would have been white. Now it is an equally thriving church of 400 but the congregation is about 70% black (at the last count, members came from 57 different nations). This reflects what has happened in London especially but of urban England in general. But it does NOT reflect rural England at all. Immigration is the main way that the church in England is growing and immigration is to urban Britain, not rural. Rather what we have is emigration of white people from urban England to rural England. Thus although there is much to praise God for, the conversion of the white British population remains a huge problem.

  • Ana Mullan

    It is great news indeed, small things are happening in different parts of Europe, there are still lots of challenges ahead but it is encouraging.

  • ChrisF

    I agree with Timothy (#8) above that London is a special case. Not only is it an international city, but the church atmosphere is more different there than, say, in Cambridge where I live. It seems to me that, outside of London, there is a certain traditionalism in many of the evangelical churches that prevents them from engaging their cities and cultures, at least compared to what I hear is going on in London, which I think has been influenced and energized by the Missional movement.

  • http://pioneerminister.wordpress.com tallandrew

    Timothy (#8) – you should get in touch with the Pioneer School at Ridley College who have lots of links to people doing ‘outside the box’ missional thinking in the surrounding area. The church in nearby new-village of Cambourne is worth looking at too. It started with a single family ten years ago and they made a point of getting right to the heart of the community, which they have done!

    It is true that some evangelical churches are pushing on doing the same stuff, to moderate success, but which is missing out one some sections of the population. However, many more are engaged in some new missional thinking.


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