Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 13 January 2018

Jeremy Morris ViaMedia.News A Theology of Reception that Pays Attention to People…

Ali Campbell Church Times Home is where the faith is; so focus on the family
The reason why there are so few young people in the pews is clear — but is the Church listening?

David Voas Church Times A lost generation
Many congregations have fewer than five under-16s. The Church has failed to retain the children and grandchildren of its members, says

52
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
52 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
31 Comment authors
Flora AlexanderMichael SklirosVictorianaStanley MonkhouseKate Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
CRS
Guest
CRS

“By contrast, fewer than five per cent of adult respondents below the age of 35 — in effect, their grandchildren — said the same. Of those, fewer than a quarter said that they attended church at least monthly. For every 100 people in England aged 18-34, only one is an active Anglican.”

Kate
Guest
Kate

“When asked what was especially important for children to learn at home, just 11 per cent of people who identified themselves as Anglicans put “Religious faith”. On average, people who considered themselves Anglican seemed unconcerned about passing faith on to the next generation.” Shudder. Campbell really thinks faith can be learned or taught. No wonder the church is struggling when a youth and children mission consultant has such a poor understanding of faith. Yes, church attendance can be learned but talk to people who were taught that and they will say they weren’t really Christians. Faith is a gift, freely… Read more »

Tom Downs
Guest
Tom Downs

Kate: “Faith is a gift, freely given. It isn’t taught or learned.” One can argue “cause and effect” or “correlation”, but research in the US indicates that parental attendance relates to retention. Parents who send their children to church, but don’t attend, won’t see their kids continue as adults. Parents who both attend regularly with their children find that the majority continue to attend as adults. Oddly, if only the father attends regularly with the children, these see the greatest level of retention. Of all the variables, regular parental attendance seems the most influential. Consequentially, as adult attendance drops, so… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

“Faith is a gift, freely given. It isn’t taught or learned.”

That sentiment is almost a bombproof way to accelerate what is an obvious decline.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

The best youth recruitment tools I have ever seen in the C of E are well-run choirs. This has recently been referred to in the CT. They provide a discipline – which young people respond to. They inculcate a pride in standards – which young people respond to. They give a sense of purpose and enhance self-esteem – which young people respond to. They intrigue through a growing sense of the numinous – which young people respond to. What has happened to them? They have been disbanded or allowed to fall into desuetude, often in a misconceived quest for “relevance”… Read more »

William (Bill) Paul III
Guest
William (Bill) Paul III

“Faith is a gift, freely given. It isn’t taught or learned. We just have to ask. And the churches which have that understanding of faith do rather better at youth “mission” that the poor old CofE which has come to believe it can teach the next generation to be Christians.” Staggering in, charitably, it’s naiveté. First, there are many components or aspects of faith. Faith is spoken of as gift, and task, in the NT. And there is a long history of thoughtful reflection on its many dimensions. In Keeping The Faith, an Anglican work from maybe the 90’s, Stephen… Read more »

Evan McWilliams
Guest
Evan McWilliams

I applaud Ali Campbell for reminding us of what the scriptures make abundantly clear– that it is primarily through the ‘passing on’ of faith that the Church is formed. This was true of the ancient people of God, Israel, who were commanded to circumcise and dedicate their sons (Gen. 17), not to hide the works of God from their children (Ps. 78), but to teach the Law to their offspring at all times (Deut. 11). It is no less true of the NT Church who are enjoined to bring children up in the admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6), to… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

For my part I continue to find Bernard Lonergan’s perspectives on these matters extremely helpful. “It used to be said, Nihil amatum nisi praecognitum,Knowledge precedes love.” He goes to note, “But the major exception to the Latin tag is God’s gift of his love flooding our hearts. Then we are in the dynamic state of being in love. …Our love reveals to us values we had not appreciated, values of prayer and worship, or repentance and belief.” (Method in Theology. p.122). For Lonergan faith is knowledge born of religious love. One must distinguish between the notions of faith and belief.… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“That the UK just doesn’t have places like Wheaton, Biola, Calvin, Gordon, and scores of others” The reasons why the UK has no tradition of liberal arts colleges would fill a book. But the Anglican church was supremely uninterested in universities – it had Oxford and Cambridge, after all – until London got its charter (1829? Something like that) and then took part in the conservative fuss that created King’s College London. I think I’m right in saying that KCL is the only non-ancient university with even a hint of church involvement. After that, universities which opened in the 19th… Read more »

AGoody
Guest
AGoody

There is certainly a chapel at Exeter University, I have visited it. According to the website, it’s been there since 1958.

Jo
Guest
Jo

IO: odd, then, that Lancaster, part of the 60s expansion, has a chaplaincy centre with two chapels constructed early in the life of the campus. I’m surprised that other universities of the same period don’t have that. Or are you meaning chapel in a more esoteric sense.

I would also mention that while the CofE’s interest in universities waned, it still had its finger firmly in the pie of teacher training colleges.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I don’t think there is disagreement that discipleship can be taught, just as Jesus himself taught discipleship. Had Campbell talked of teaching discipleship, or how to follow Jesus, he would have been on solid ground. But he didn’t. He talked of teaching faith and John 6 is very clear that neither are we taught nor do we learn faith – faith is something bestowed by God.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

And one of the Bristol Halls of residence has a chapel at which the assistant chaplain was based. At York where I was the chaplaincy was based around Heslington parish church..which was on campus.And those C of E colleges of education are now universities.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

On the matter of youngsters I agree with Stanley about choirs. In the 60s my parish choir went on to produce 4 priests including me.
But now the change in Sunday is the real problem…so much school sport happens on Sunday morning and families are more mobile.I agree though that we need to help parents to have more confidence in passing the faith on.

Charles Clapham
Guest

Just to add to comments by others that there was and continues to be plenty Anglican commitment to newer universities. I was chaplain at Keele for several years – the first post-war university, and one with an enormous chapel at the centre. The church still maintains full time stipendiary chaplains in most (all?) English universities. Chester, Liverpool Hope, Winchester, Roehampton, and others all have church foundations.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“One must distinguish between the notions of faith and belief.” – Rod Gillis

I am very much in agreement with you.

David Rowett
Guest
David Rowett

IO – Exeter in the late 80’s had two (paid) chaplains, one on each campus, and Durham started off in 1832 with quite heavy Church connections – my college was housed in the old Bishop’s Palace – and the Newcastle uni website states ‘the School of Medicine and Surgery, established in 1834 [and] Armstrong College, founded in 1871 for the teaching of physical sciences… formed one division of the federal University of Durham. The Durham Colleges formed the other division.’ Even in my day most colleges had a (paid) chaplain, admittedly usually shared with one or two other colleges. I… Read more »

Andrew Lightbown
Guest

Choirs – definitely the way ahead! We have two: the robed choir and the all age choir. They are both highly inclusive. Age range 80 years. Choirs get children involved and give their parents a reason to attend. Singing is something that people love to do (witness the sheer number of pop up and community choirs). My church has one of the largest choirs in our diocese and paradoxically I am the least musical of all priests.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Kate, “…discipleship can be taught, just as Jesus himself taught discipleship. …faith is something bestowed by God.” I agree with Kate that there is an insight here that ought not to be dismissed. I grew up in Roman Catholic parochial school during the baby boom. There was daily religion class, first communion and later confirmation prep, the march across the glebe for confession, holy day masses, parish clergy visits to the classroom, all supported by faithful family life in homes. In terms of faith outcomes it all collapsed like a black hole in space. Education regimes in Protestant and… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

Manchester university has a chaplaincy centre and a variety of chaplains. Durham colleges have chapels and of course a Canon Professor in the Theology Department. And then there’s Common Awards….

Bernard Silverman
Guest
Bernard Silverman

As a fellow numbers person, I am very grateful to David not just for his article but for all the work he’s done in this area over many years. To maintain the numbers you’d have to have nearly perfect generational transmission, or else have a sea change in what happens in “none” families. Failing all that, the established church (in particular) needs to plan for the time when it is a much smaller remnant than it is now, populated largely or wholly by those who make a positive choice to take part. So, in the terms of other current writing,… Read more »

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

Having a chapel and a chaplain is all very well, but what difference does it actually make? I’m wary of extolling the virtues of things that we did more of in the good old days, without seeing the evidence that they actually worked. We have had choirs and FE chaplaincies for generations, and yet here we are. Is that because we didn’t do these things well enough, or because they were only ever a minority sport (for those who could sing, or for people who already had a faith when they got to college/university)?

Kate
Guest
Kate

Rod, thank you. I am finding the second rather difficult, but that might simply be tiredness on my part. The first, though, I really appreciate. For me the most important part was that religious experience transcends science and cannot, adequately, be put into words. At a personal level that is definitely something that I have experienced, and understood. I hadn’t formalised that knowledge though and, consequently, until now have failed to take the logical step: to the extent that the Bible describes religious experiences, it MUST be incomplete (which is different to saying that it is inaccurate). That’s a significant… Read more »

Jo
Guest
Jo

Good questions, David Keen. My feeling with regard to choirs is that in many cases their importance was not realised and they were allowed to diminish in size and quality over time and/or were killed off by vicars seized of the conviction that they were old fashioned or that sung liturgy put off newcomers who didn’t know the tunes. When choirs aren’t nurtured a weekday evening choir practice combining a rehearsal of music for the coming Sunday with the introduction of new material becomes a run through 45 minutes before the service becomes bumbling through hoping memory is enough to… Read more »

Cassandra
Guest
Cassandra

I think this discussion has become sidetracked. Most young people don’t go to university. Most young people aren’t in church choirs. David Keen makes the ‘minority sport’ point but it doesn’t seem to me that he makes it firmly enough…

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

Stanley Monkhouse and Andrew Lightbown have it spot on. Where there are choirs with children in churches, there are young families coming to worship. It’s not rocket science. Except that the C of E has spent its collective energy over the past three or four decades doing its best to diminish choirs (and those who invest hours of their time nurturing and directing them) as either elitist or a barrier to ‘authentic’ worship. Which is one reason why many people have been abandoning parish churches and flocking to cathedrals in the meantime. I have to say that the Royal School… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Most young people don’t go to university.” Around 50% of women aged 18-30 have been to university. That’s not “most”, I suppose, but it’s hardly to be dismissed. The overall figure is lower, because of the wide disparity between women and men. But the number of families in the next generation who have at least one graduate parent will probably be well over 50%. And every young person is taught, 35 hours a week for 40 weeks of the year, by people who have been to university. Yes, there might be a small number of teachers nearing retirement who have… Read more »

primroseleague
Guest
primroseleague

an Exeter graduate writes… not only is there a chapel, but the university started life as a college of art… All these scientists and engineers made I have to say very little impact on a university that was determinedly (until the last ten years or so) far more of an arts and humanities one. Not *that* much plate glass either! Also, the establishment of a medical school is rather more to do with the quantum leap in grant funding available than “gravitas”… Apart from that IO, I think I get what you were trying to say, but you certainly missed… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Cassandra, Thank you for your comment, which I agree with. As a boy with low to middling musicality, I attended school which educated one of the Oxford college choirs. The school had excellent music standards, but that experience has left me a 40 year legacy of insecurity relating to my own musicality, and a feeling that music, especially church music, is not for me. There are issues around elitism, and a them and us mentality. Even now when I attend a service in a parish church with a strong choir I struggle to feel included within the service. Church Choirs… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Kate, Frederick Crowe (the older article) was a student of Lonergan’s, a graduate of the Gregorian, and went on to become one of the most knowledgeable Lonergan scholars of his generation. The second article by Christopher Friel deals with a treatment of feelings that goes beyond the common sense way feelings are often popularly understood, hence my nota bene. I’m no Lonergan scholar, just a Lonergan enthusiast, for decades. Following Lonergan’s analysis ( which was dynamic and evolved over his career) unpacking arguments by Lonergan scholars and critics alike, and trying to appropriate Lonergan’s sources (e.g. Newman, Grammar of… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

I agree with Stanley Monkhouse’s comment about choirs in the sense that choral music including choral music for young people is a lovely and meaningful thing. Two qualifications though, first music is cultural and culture is diverse. I wouldn’t be too hard on ‘hipsters’. Secondly, choirs may teach a love of music. That does not mean that participation in one will necessarily lead to a love of God. There is the further question of why I am here (at worship) in the first place?

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

My first comment which people read as being about choirs was at least as much about things that compete with church, in that case the air cadets. I didn’t write clearly enough Church has always been a minority sport that appeals only to particular personality types and/or people with particular neuroses. Looking back, what kept me in the club was a fascination with ‘The Divine’ (theos) rather than anything that Jesus said or did. That followed when I became more adept at self-examination. That’s why I suggest intriguing young people with notions of The Divine rather than Jesus as scout… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Stanley Monkhouse, “Just nine per cent said youth workers.” I don’t doubt it.

Rev Paul
Guest
Rev Paul

“Just nine per cent said youth workers.” – Possibly because so few churches have them. It’s hard to be influenced by people you don’t have access to. My limited experience of having a properly trained, paid youth worker who has a vocation to this ministry (not the only 20 something left in the church) has been pretty positive.

There are plenty of churches where youth and young adults go – they go to churches where they are included and empowered. We have to offer more to the young than the choice between a choir cassock or a server’s cassock.

Cassandra
Guest
Cassandra

Interested Observer, it’s possible that you are conflating ‘going to university’ with the criteria used for data such as https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/648165/HEIPR_PUBLICATION_2015-16.pdf

What the government counts are those who spend 6 months or more on a course lasting 6 months or more. Not the same as the numbers doing the 3 yrs full-time equivalent of a degree.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“What the government counts are those who spend 6 months or more on a course lasting 6 months or more.” The current non-completion rate is about 20% [1]. That’s counting from a starting position which I think (I can’t immediately check) is shorter than six months: I think it’s “80% of people who enroll and stay past the end of the first term get degrees”. So OK, 40% of women rather than 50% (80% of 50%) if you want to work it from “get degree” rather than “have an HE experience”. The key demographic shift is that in 1963 36… Read more »

Michael Mulhern
Guest
Michael Mulhern

I agree with Stanley Monkhouse. If you apply a Welbyesque business model to youth workers, and measure their collective ‘productivity’ against their pay, they are simply not delivering the goods. In the church I attend, there was a youth worker (shared ecumenically with the Methodists, URC and Baptists) and paid in the region of 25K (the professional rate, I assume?) while our excellent organist was on less than 4K (as recommended by the Royal School of Church Music, no less). The growing discontent with the youth worker led a new, incoming incumbent to withdraw the parish’s commitment to the youth… Read more »

Cassandra
Guest
Cassandra

InterestedObserver, what I’m concerned about here is the way this thread on ‘passing on the faith’ went off into a discussion of university chapels and chaplaincies, without a complementary discussion of the many young people who wouldn’t be touched by these even if every HE institution had one.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

There are of course churches that do very well at reaching children and young people. My brother attends one such church in Manchester – vaguely Pentecostal, I believe. They don’t appear to have any difficulty attracting and hanging onto kids.

If the Church of England as a whole is doing such a poor job of discipling its kids, maybe it’s time to see what can be learned from other traditions who are doing better at it?

Victoriana
Guest
Victoriana

@Michael Mulhern, well, exactly. The RSCM could be seen as one of the countervailing forces against more equitable conditions for organists and church musicians generally because their pay recommendations are premised on the musician having other work — thus entrenching a highly amateurish model of engagement on people who might be rather more serious than that. Part of the problem is that music is not part of the formation of the clergy. It’s one thing to have sung in a choir as a child or young person — however powerful the experience might have been for many nascent clergy —… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Thank you Victoriana. Having been church musician for 50 years and more, and now priest, I KNOW that musicians have immense power to make or break liturgy and atmosphere. l treasure my good musicians immensely, we discuss, we work together and I expect great things from them – and I get them. The sad fact that PCCs are willing to pay properly youth workers, roofers, plumbers, electricians, etc, but not musicians, is a cause of great grief. As far as some PCC members are concerned, all I can say is ‘where there’s death, there’s hope’. I pray that there will… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Leaving aside the point that faith cannot be taught and even before we determine how best to teach discipleship, the Church needs to widen its engagement with the community. That means the community needs to feel empowered and not looked down upon and certain Shibboleths stand in the way of that. A typical family has a different Sunday routine than they would have had a generation ago, and that is having a major impact, but I don’t think that is the biggest factor at work here. Much more relevant, I suggest is that society has become less deferential, more egalitarian,… Read more »

John Scrivener
Guest
John Scrivener

Kate: ‘Jesus wasn’t paid’. But humanly speaking he had to support life somehow (like ministers, youth workers etc). I don’t think the gospels tell us how.
‘99% of the time we address our master . . . simply by his given name Jesus’. I’m not sure that ‘we’ includes everybody, but in any case in the gospels he seems usually to be addressed by such honorifics as ‘Lord’, ‘Master’, ‘Rabbi’. Is he ever actually addressed simply as Jesus?

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“The church however loves its hierarchies and deference to puff up that hierarchy – “Your Grace”, “Father”, “Minister”. @Kate Though it would be difficult to argue that ‘Your Grace’ wasn’t being deferential (though as far as I am aware only Archbishops and Dukes get this amount of grovelling), it is common for Father, Revd etc. to be used as a designation of a particular role / job. Presumably you don’t feel you’re being uncomfortably deferential if you call your GP ‘Doctor’ Finlay (or whatever). Why then feel oppressed if a member of the clergy is ‘Father’, ‘Mother’ etc.? I’m content… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Presumably you don’t feel you’re being uncomfortably deferential if you call your GP ‘Doctor’ Finlay” I get very annoyed when I call my doctor Doctor Surname, and they call me Interested. Mr Observer will work, thanks, or if we’re playing titles bingo, Dr Observer. Leaving aside the petty academic snobbery of whether people with MBChBs should be called Doctor at all (they’ve got two first degrees, right?), then a doctor’s consulting room shouldn’t have a power dynamic, and either it’s given names for everyone or “Title Surname” for everyone. So whether I feel calling my GP Doctor X is overly… Read more »

Douglas James
Guest
Douglas James

Stanley Monkhouse and Victoriana (and others) are saying what many of us have been thinking about the RSCM for a long time. In particular, the clergy musical training issue is ripe for attention. I think it will prove to be an ‘own goal’ in the long run that the RSCM has allowed the Cof E clergy training syllabus to ignore musical and liturgical formation by attempting to provide it themselves. The appointment of a clergy training officer, which seems to have gone for the lowest common denominator of ticking all the boxes possible, rather than focusing on theological and musical… Read more »

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

“‘Jesus wasn’t paid’. But humanly speaking he had to support life somehow (like ministers, youth workers etc). I don’t think the gospels tell us how.”

At least two of the gospels say that Jesus was “provided for” by “women.” Matt. 27:55; Mark 15:41.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Actually, my conversation with my doctors is likely to start, “Hi Stuart, how have you been?” Likewise, nobody I know would call our local MP by anything other than his /her (it recently changed) bare first name, and more would they ever suggest anyone did.

The Lord even told us what we need to do to engage, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” It’s easy for the church to teach that but it seems to be hard for the church to live it.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Douglas James: Anyone who hears tales of what the RSCM was like in its heyday under “Auntie” Gerald Knight – I am old enough (67) to have heard and witnessed – will have come to his/her own conclusions. All this helped the RSCM establish for itself a reputation that is – I am trying to be charitable here – questionable, and that in the long run has done the cause of church music no favours whatsoever. If I were a theological course principal I would pay RSCM no heed. The answer must lie elsewhere. Disband RSCM and go for some… Read more »

Victoriana
Guest
Victoriana

@Kate (17 Jan 12.38pm GMT), that’s a bit of a mixed-bag of observations. My choirs have always been run in the expectation that people will encounter Jesus through their journey in the group. I’ve studied theology and have no hesitation in talking about the spirituality of the music we sing. Prayer is part of every rehearsal. And there’s a fair amount of theological reflection around the group about the choir’s ethos and our collective desire to share that to new people. I think that sounds like music being mission. And the runs are on the board in my current choir… Read more »