Updated yet again Thursday evening
Today’s Observer newspaper has two pieces by Harriet Sherwood dealing with the Church of England.
As traditional believers turn away, is this a new crisis of faith?
Modern churches are driving up numbers among the young, but critics say their direct and emotional style of worship risks alienating mainstream Christians
…Ric Thorpe said: “What’s changed is that [the church] is now saying, we want this money to go towards growth – which, when it’s in decline, is a wise investment. In this new thinking, you’ve got to demonstrate that you’ve got a plan, that you’re putting [funding] to good use, that it’s not going to something that’s dying. There’s an urgency about this.”
He says small rural churches have a higher number of clergy per capita than dense, urban parishes. “Where the population is denser, there are fewer clergy around to reach those people. If we are an outward-facing church we need to position people where they’re most needed: 83% of people live in urban areas, but 83% of [church] finance doesn’t go there. But it should.”
The church, he said, needed to help some rural parishes “face reality”. Some of those parishes, historically the backbone of the Anglican church, are wincing in pain. Another key plank of the Renewal and Reform programme is the goal of recruiting 6,000 priests over the next 15 years, to be “the leadership of the church in the 2030s, 40s and 50s”, says the church’s secretary general, William Nye…
Top cleric says Church of England risks becoming a ‘suburban sect’.
The cleric in question is Martyn Percy and there are extensive quotes from the afterword to his forthcoming book, The Future Shapes of Anglicanism.
According to Percy, the strategy is fundamentally flawed. “It will take more to save the Church of England than a blend of the latest management theory, secular sorcery with statistics and evangelical up-speak,” he writes.
A cure for the ailing church “would require a much deeper ecclesial comprehension than the present leadership currently exhibit … There seems to be no sagacity, serious science or spiritual substance to the curatives being offered.”
Rather, he says, the church “is being slowly kettled into becoming a suburban sect, corralling its congregations, controlling its clergy and centralising its communication. Instead of being a local, dispersed, national institution, it is becoming a bureaucratic organisation, managing its ministry and mission – in a manner that is hierarchically scripted.”
Three (so far) blog articles have already appeared in response to these newspaper stories:
Gary Waddington Mission or Managerialism
Eddie Green Crisis in the Church?
Ian Paul Does growth need management
And now a fourth: Richard Peers Holiness and Management
Two more articles:
Wealands Bell Shiny Church or Soggy Church? Each has its place
And another two:
Andrew Lightbown Relaxed about R & R
Catholicity and covenant Renewal and reform, c.1099