Is this the best long-term church growth strategy?

There are three questions which come up in relation to the growth of religious movements, particularly the Christian faith. How would you answer each of these?

a. Why is Islam growing in the UK and in the world at the moment?

b. What was the primary reason for the growth of the early church?

c. Why in the West do conservative churches generally resist the decline that affects more liberal ones?

Now these are big questions, and the answers are bound to be complex. But generally in answer to (a) most people will reach for an explanation around the rise of fundamentalism and a global rejection of Western liberal values. In answer to (b) many will think about the cultural and religious distinctiveness of the early Christian movement, and its appeal in relation to the cruelty and fatalism of much pagan religion. And in answer to (c) many will reach for ideas of commitment and discipleship which resist the corrosion of modern individualist and consumerist culture. 

But there is a good case to be made that all three have the same explanation: childbirth. 

Does our thinking about mission actually shape our practice?

Eddie Arthur of Wycliffe Bible Translators, who is conducting research at Leeds Trinity University, has explored the connection between mission thinking and mission practice, and shared his reflections at the Second Festival of Theology. Introduction: The Mission of God Until the sixteenth century, the term “mission” was used in Christian theology in conjunction with the … Continue Reading

Does measuring mission make the Church grow?

I was recently reading a discussion on using measures of performance in secondary-school education, about which the author was highly sceptical. He quoted this aphorism (from I know not where): ‘Weighing pigs doesn’t make them any heavier!’ There is a general sense that too many things are being measured inappropriately in our culture, causing multiple … Continue Reading

Did Jesus want a fresh expression of Israel?

A couple of weeks ago, Angela Tilby (retired Canon of Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford) unleashed a peculiar diatribe against the upcoming prayer initiative Thy Kingdom Come, complaining that it was tantamount to an ‘evangelical takeover’ of the Church of England. The movement itself is interesting, in that I understand it to have been the personal initiative of … Continue Reading