Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 7 July 2021

Updated to add second Martyn Percy article

Jonathan Draper Modern Church Limiting Factors: the ‘Myriad’ initiative and the future of the Church
Martyn Percy Modern Church The Great Leap Forward (Part One) The New Politics of Ecclesionomics for the Church of England
The Great Leap Forward (Part Two) – The Church of England’s Growth Fetish
Ian Paul Psephizo Should everyone be church-planting missionary disciples?
Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of vision; talking of strategy
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Ten thousand new congregations. Will they save the Church of England?
Barnaby Perkins All Things Lawful And Honest It’s the limit.

Anne Dannerolle ViaMedia.News LGBT Stories – Can Conservative Evangelical Churches Ever Change?

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Froghole
Froghole
3 months ago

One of the useful things about Dr Paul’s piece is that it has tempted Mr McGinley to stick his head above the parapet: “This has been developing over a two year period with consistent consultation with Bishops and people from every tradition as well as clergy and lay leaders. So while it will have many weaknesses it definitely isn’t a back of a fag packet idea.” How come it looks like something off the back of a fag packet? “The number of 10,000 is something that we developed because it parallels the number of parishes…” So he *does* want to… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

To see the full text of John McGinley’s comment on Psephizo here is a link
https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/should-everyone-be-church-planting-missionary-disciples/#comment-395824

Last edited 3 months ago by Simon Sarmiento
Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

From the cited comment:

Paul seemed happy to ask Titus to appoint leaders of congregation on the basis of their faith and character and not their theological training because he had trained Titus and they were overseeing these new plants.”

How interesting that he should mention Titus in the context of evangelising people outside the structures and controls of the wider church. How did that work out for the Titus Trust?

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

To link this with the General Synod questions, what confidence should we have that the methodology which gave us 750 ordinands we don’t have each year should be realistic about 10,000. Do we just graduate to bigger numbers? It reminds me of Adrian Plass’s delightful “Andromeda Veal” – and don’t we need an Adrian Plass for the present time. Mind you Dave Walker’s last cartoon in the Church Times is in the zone …

Last edited 3 months ago by Mark Bennet
Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

I note that Canon McGinley now states that he is not being paid by New Wine but rather by  “a number of personal supporters” and “a couple of trusts”. It would be interesting to know who these people and bodies are as they are funding someone who will have a disproportionate influence on the life of the C of E. The business of preparing accounts and sitting through APCMs may not be the most exciting or glamorous bits of parish life, but parishes are at least accountable for their activities.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

‘And for some people, particularly Priests who will oversee the lay plants, must have this training. But for others this is not necessary for them to fulfil a missionary and pastoral leadership role.’ (from above-linked comment by John McGinley) This really does ring alarm bells. Pastoral leadership definitely needs training – we only have to look at the Nine O’Clock Service Fiasco to see that. In my years in the charismatic movement I saw many, many pastoral disasters inflicted by untrained people who mistook everything from gallstones to alcoholism to mental illnesses as signs of demonic possession. And I attended… Read more »

Father David
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

Presumably Canon McGinley expects the Lay Leaders for the myriad of new House Churches to come from existing parishes? Unfortunately, in so many places the rural churches are on the verge of extinction. I read some chilling figures from a deeply rural group of parishes. Sunday Congregation Average Age Church A 13 70 Church B 8 76 Church C 13 65 Church D 10 65 Sadly, the figures speak for themselves. In view of the overwhelming negative response to this report from Myriad, I do hope that John McGinley regrets using the phrase “key limiting factors” to describe, among other… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Father David
3 months ago

I note (again) that John McGinley is listed as a GAFCON UK Council of Reference Vice-President. See here (scroll down)
https://www.gafconuk.org/about

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

I also want to ask (again) who is funding Canon McGinley’s work. If it’s not the C of E and not New Wine, who are the personal supporters and trusts who are using their money to buy influence in the life of the church? I’ve tried asking in various places but no-one will answer.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
3 months ago

Crockford lists a John McGinley who is a parish priest in Leicester Diocese.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

From the Diocese of Leicester website (no date that I can discern):

“The Bishop announces that The Revd Canon John McGinley, Associate Vicar (Resourcing Church) of Holy Trinity with St. John the Divine and Priest in Charge of the Emmaus Parish Team (Church of the Nativity), has been appointed as Executive Director of the 10,000 New Churches Project in the Diocese of London. John has already taken up this role in a part-time capacity and will become full time from 1 September.”

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

I am aware that Canon McGinley is in the process of taking up his new role, and has said in a comment on the Psephizo blog that he is being funded by “a number of personal supporters” and “a couple of trusts”. I thought it appropriate, in the interests of transparency, to ask who these people and trusts might be. One response that has been offered on that blog is that Asbury Seminary might be one of the bodies involved. I know nothing about that institution, but having googled it I am left wondering why an American evangelical outfit is… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
3 months ago

I don’t claim to have read all of this in detail – a couple of today’s linked articles – but I hadn’t picked up from those or earlier reading that his role was to be in the Diocese of London.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Actually, it all strikes me as unclear. I understand that he is to be based in London, but I thought his role was a national church planting one. But then the bishop with national responsibility for church planting is a suffragan of London, so who knows how these things work. My key concern here is that Canon McGinley is to have a prominent national role paid for by private interests which may be at odds with the Church of England, it’s self-understanding and its priorities.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
3 months ago

Big Methodist school. Ben Witherington teaches NT. They have other campuses in FL and CO. Not sure why they would be involved. Their name is at the bottom of the Gregory website.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

So, are there two Rev. John McGinleys? Or is Crockford out of date?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

A baffling question, Janet, which I don’t understand. I quoted the Bishop of Leicester about a parish priest in his diocese taking up a post (apparently in the Diocese of London) in September. It would be asking a lot of Crockford’s to be this up to date.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

There is no GAFCON-US but rather ACNA. For all their similarities, the GAFCON UK exists against the backdrop of the established Church of England, which in turn occupies a much more significant footprint in the UK than does TEC. I begin this way because I believe it is relevant in assessing your notice. J McGinley operates at present in both the CofE and GAFCON (there is no real analogy in TEC for this, or elsewhere). Given the stresses and strains in the established church at present, and given the high (if roiling) profile this initiative is being given, one must… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by C R SEITZ
Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Most people avoid, or at least are very careful about, approvingly quoting dictators. You don’t mine your copy of Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartie for amusing little phrases that Hitler used between courses, and even if you think that Shostakovich operas aren’t quite as tuneful as Mozart you treat Сумбур вместо музыки as perhaps not the last word on the matter, forceful though Stalin (or his mouthpiece) was. And yet apparently, in the evangelical CofE in 2021, regular citing of Mao is OK. You can tell a lot about people by the intellectual company they keep, and that John McGinley is OK… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

Many thanks, and quite so. The particularly unfortunate thing about this quote is that the consensus is that Mao used 100 flowers as a malevolent ruse, to encourage gullible dissentients to voice their opinions: in short, to expose themselves to the party apparatus, so that they could be arrested, sacked and either shot, sent to labour camps, or subjected to other disabilities. About 550,000 people were victimised in this way during the ensuing purge in 1957 (estimates differ). It was perhaps a sinister prelude to the full-blown murderous paranoia of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. As has… Read more »

Michael H.
Michael H.
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Shadowing and subverting. I have wondered for some time why the bishop of the diocese where I live, has a target of 130 church plants by 2030. There are 127 benefices in the diocese so 130 is a nice round number. Does this mean that one group of people will be in church while another group will be in the new plant in someone’s house? Surely the ulterior motive is for the latter (much less expensive) to replace the former?
To me it feels like Oxford Movement versus Charles and John Wesley being revived.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

American readers of this website might want to know that “fag” is UK slang for “cigarette”. So a “fag packet” is not a slur for a group of gay people on vacation, it is a package of cigarettes. “England and the US are two countries separated by a common language”, attributed to, but actually a paraphrase of, George Bernard Shaw. Froghole makes some great observations, but that quoted excerpt from a comment by Mr. McGinley leapt off the screen and grabbed me by the throat. Froghole, when it comes to the religion and its churches founded in Jesus of Nazareth’s… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Charles Read
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

I understand that this report has not been seen by the House of Bishops. This might be bad news for the report when we debate it. John McGinley also it seems to me makes things worse not better here – we really do need a bit more detail before we consider a report at GS. The greatest pity is that at heart this report points to some important things: mission and evangelism are the work of the whole people of God and we should encourage lay people in this vocation and ministry; small groups can be a good tool /… Read more »

Charles Clapham
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

One question is whether the proposal before Synod is a plan for growth, or a plan for managing decline. If the real rationale is we don’t have enough money to pay stipendiary clergy or maintain our buildings, so we need to plant volunteer-led christian communities who meet in homes instead, then it’s a plan for managing decline. Or worse, a plan for managing decline dressed up as plan for growth.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Charles Clapham
3 months ago

Many thanks, and also to Mr Read. I feel very strongly that the Church first needs to divest itself of the buildings (subject to partial disendowment), and to reconstitute its finances. If the buildings are secured, with the Church gaining free access to them (as in France), and if clergy and PCCs are liberated from this millstone and the burden of acting as adjuncts to the heritage industry, it will then, I feel, be far easier for the Church as a whole to concentrate on mission and pastoral care, rather than acting as a confederation of increasingly defensive and mutually… Read more »

Andrew Lightbown
Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

10,000 has been developed and adopted because it parallels the number of parish churches! Sorry, this really is back of the fag packet stuff of the worst kind (even if it is the consequence of a period of ‘consultation.’ If we are going to have a strategic number let’s arrive at it through a proper strategic process, not through a loose mixture of approximation and aspiration. Let’s also recognise that many parish congregations are already small in number. Replication on an approximate 1:1 basis is neither visionary, strategic, or properly aspirational. Numbers ‘manufactured’ in this way undermine the vision and… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
3 months ago

Anne Dannerolle’s piece is excellent. And it makes the crucial point for all organisations: that the departure of some people is not always a bad thing. An organisation which, in effect, grants a power of veto to every member, requiring not only consensus but unanimity for every decision, will die. Majoritarianism has its problems, but allowing (as in the case for many churches) elderly conservatives to veto everything that might welcome younger members is never going to end well. It appears that older Christians are mostly indifferent to the survival of their churches or their wider faith: so long as… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

In my experience one needs to add context to the use of the word conservatism. Many people in the churches where I minister, who are in their 70s to 80s, are relaxed in their attitude to sexuality, but conservative in their attitude to liturgy. They are very happy to accept a divorced and remarried female rector, and a same-sex married LLM, as long as both ministers serve up a regular pattern of BCP matins and common worship Eucharist.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
3 months ago

It would be more inspiring if Stephen Cottrell, as a member of the Society of Catholic Priests, echoed a great episcopal predecessor Frank Weston who said “ “Go out and look for Jesus in the ragged, in the naked, in the oppressed and sweated, in those who have lost hope, in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus. And when you see him, gird yourselves with his towel and try to wash their feet.” Instead, the-Catholic faith is abandoned in favour of 10000 individuals inviting the neighbours round for a cup of tea, and to preach about their… Read more »

David Keen
David Keen
3 months ago

Given his aversion to church planting, I hope that somewhere Martyn Percy has written with similar vigour about how the English parish system survives our continued shrinkage of 2% per year in membership, if anyone could post a link?

A number of Dioceses are already moving to lay-led parish churches, as clergy become scarcer and harder to afford – e.g. https://www.sheffield.anglican.org/focal-ministry. Without some miraculous change in the trends, we are heading for a) A significant proportion of parish churches led by laity or b) A significant reduction in the number of parish churches, or (most likely) both.

Charles Clapham
Reply to  David Keen
3 months ago

David: Martyn Percy has written at length on aspects of church growth, analyses of fresh expressions, the future of Anglicanism, etc in numerous books and essays. To pick a couple of examples, see his “Salt of the Earth: Religious Resilience in a Secular Age” (Continuum 2001), or “Why Liberal Churches are Growing” (T&T Clark 2006) edited by Martyn Percy and Ian Markham.

Last edited 3 months ago by Charles Clapham
Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Reply to  Charles Clapham
3 months ago

Quite right Charles, but Martyn Percy has made clear he places little importance on church attendance, commitment or discipleship. His ideal church is a combination of the National Trust, Labour Party and Rotary club. His model is the Scandinavian churches who are funded by a church tax it would be impossible to replicate in the UK.

William
William
Reply to  Sam Jones
3 months ago

Our Lord Jesus Christ said to baptise all nations and teach them his commands. Not only are the Scandinavian churches much better at baptising their nations than we are at ours, the vast majority of Scandinavian teenagers follow courses of instruction for Confirmation.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  David Keen
3 months ago

There’s an interesting aspect to home working. Those of us of more, er, mature years and career stage are pretty chill about it: we don’t need to network, we don’t need to embed ourselves in our employer’s business, we don’t need to make friends either in or out of work beyond those we have. And in a lot of cases we bought our houses cheap long ago so we have space, land and facilities. To paraphrase Baldwin, there are a lot of gentle-faced people who look as if they have done very well out of the lockdown. But for my… Read more »

Kyle Johansen
Kyle Johansen
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

My office in the city is open. I can tell you that the young people have not rushed into the building. I’ve not heard of other offices being different, and the streets at clock-in and clock-out time aren’t awash with the young (now the streets on a Friday evening tell a different story.) It is the case that only a small percentage of Christians will have the houses to provide. But in many cases our churches were provided by a smaller percentage of Christians. I suppose you could call them a rich, elderly, upper-class fantasy. “But otherwise, it’s a total… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Kyle Johansen
3 months ago

My wife and my daughter work for large London-based financial organisations. Their offices are not open, nor are most similar businesses. My daughter is itching to get to meet colleagues she has never met (she graduated into Covid).

Arguments of the form “this will work in the UK because it works in East Africa, Communist China and worked in first century Rome” are not wildly convincing.

Charles Clapham
3 months ago

Really enjoyed reading Martyn Percy’s pieces, especially the second. What a joy that there is still someone left in the Church of England who will write these kinds of comments. It’ll annoy a lot of people, of course…

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
3 months ago

Martyn Percy has completely lost it. Equating a church planting initiative with the final solution, pornography and Chairman Mao! Perhaps he should go back to his lawyers and his day job.

Fr Andrew Welsby
Fr Andrew Welsby
Reply to  Sam Jones
3 months ago

Martyn Percy is writing polemic, not history, and very good it is too. Ian Paul is also a polemicist, but his rather nasty side-swipe at the Bishop of Liverpool is hardly a worthy comment.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Sam Jones
3 months ago

I enjoyed Martyn Percy’s analogy with porn perhaps more than I should. That said, he could have gone further. In his 1992 film, Husbands and Wives, Woody Allen’s character says, “Spencer was searching for a woman interested in golf, inorganic chemistry, outdoor sex and the music of Bach. In short he was looking for himself, only female.” And that’s the problem. The Myriad initiative may be lacking in theological reflection but what really grates is its narcissism. It presents as an initiative in love with itself.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Sam Jones
3 months ago

Sam, I think that is an insensitive comment, given that Martyn is currently not permitted to ‘go back to his day job’.

Charles Clapham
3 months ago

Incidently, if all we’re measuring now is institutional numbers and finances, Martyn Percy’s oversight of Ripon College Cuddesdon was arguably a lot more ‘successful’ in terms of the ‘numbers’ than the record of many (all?) diocesan bishops over a similar period e.g. Stephen Cottrell at Chelmsford, Steve Croft (Sheffield, Oxford), or of theological colleges such as St John’s Nottingham, where Ian Paul was based. Not that I hold any of the latter accountable: it’s a tough market out there right now, and there are lots of reasons why institutions decline. But just observing that before we are tempted to assess… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
3 months ago

Many of these House Churches would not be classed as case-studies in spiritual abuse, the misuse of power, and safeguarding nightmares.”

I assume that’s a typo. Surely Martyn meant:

“Many of these House Churches would now be classed as case-studies in spiritual abuse, the misuse of power, and safeguarding nightmares.”

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
3 months ago

Frankly, I think that house church fellowships can be valuable and authentic, but they can also in other cases be insular and self-serving. I write with some potential bias. After my ‘born again’ experience following a car crash, I joined a house church where I was living in the Scottish Highlands. The ministry was (in my opinion) gifted and anointed. It helped promote intense personal religion. However… It seemed unable to engage with the local community, who regarded it as a kind of ‘cult’. The emphasis of the house church was on worship, preaching, prayer, and community together… But ironically,… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
3 months ago

As Martyn says: “The mission of the Church is a vocation to serve communities, not just convert individuals into members.” You don’t do good to ‘convert people’. You do good because it’s the right thing to do. You serve a community, because that is the love of God. Now, conversion, or let’s call it ‘opening to the love God has for us’, is clearly a work of the Spirit, and it’s precious. However, the nature of the Love of God – that great flow of the power of love – is a givenness that comes into our opening lives in… Read more »

Fr Rob Hall
Fr Rob Hall
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

Thank you, Susannah, for such a beautiful reminder of why I got into this Christianity thing and in spite of much have remained here. Not for the first time your words are just what I needed to read, right now, today.

Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago

For two millennia we have built churches. And then came nonconformist chapels, synagogues, mosques, temples and gurdwaras. Planting churches by outsourcing to the unaccountable private realm is an alien concept in the Church of England. Most church goers probably won’t have heard of ‘resource churches’, ‘focal ministry’ or ‘fresh expressions’, which are already pushing the boundaries of authorized church practice, and where it is conducted.    Canon McGinley describes the definition of a church as ‘tight’. Of course, he isn’t referring to parish church councils as defined in legislation. But a group of twenty or more people holding regular worship,… Read more »

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