The Daily Telegraph has more on the changing face of Christianity in the UK. It’s a very objective, newsy article telling us that the African charismatic churches are growing very quickly while Anglicanism, Methodism and the Baptist churches are all in rapid decline. Catholicism is growing more gradually, but this (like the Pentecostal growth) is due to immigrant populations. Eastern Europeans swell the numbers of Catholics in Britain, and predictions are that this growth is only a blip in what will also be a continued decline in the practice of Catholicism.
Meanwhile this article comments on the large number of Anglican bishops. There are nearly twice as many bishops now than in 1900, but there are only 9000 clergy compared to 24,000 in 1900. The bishops are expensive and they are blamed for making the church top heavy and overly bureaucratic, of course the secular journalists can never resist adding phrases like, “the senior bishops…many of whom live in historic palaces and castles…”
It all tends to make for gloomy reading, but one shouldn’t underestimate the Holy Spirit. In times in the past the church in Europe seemed to be in terrible decline. Sometimes through corruption and decay from within, other times through persecution and attack from without, but then some sort of revival and renewal comes. It may be the Wesleyan preaching or the counter reformation, or Vatican 2, or the ‘reform of the reform’–God does not forsake his church.