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mission shaped church
This 40 per cent is the national average. In urban areas this figure might
be as high as 80 per cent of the total.
what are the open de churched like?
This group includes those sometimes called the `lapsed'. They may have
dropped out of attending after a house move, or because of a change of
vicar, or when work patterns changed or increased. Their non attendance
often began as accidental, through a change in the pattern of their life.
Richter and Francis also found people who dropped out of attending for lack
of people their own age, difficulty because they perceived the church would
censure their lifestyle, realization that the local church could not cater for
their children, or the church demanding money.
14
Further out among this group might be those who went to Sunday school or
a youth group; they were married in church, or they are among the 24 per
cent who had a child baptized. They would at least consider going to church
at Christmas and hope to survive the experience. Yet further out are the
people whose parents had those rite of passage links, and those with
pressures from the extended family to seek baptism of a child. All these
groups are those who sometimes come back to faith, or who find a
substance where previously there was only the shadow, through today's
forms of relational evangelism and pastoral care. In many cases someone
in the family or friendship group has been praying for them   perhaps for
years. They come back, which is what church is hoping for. But they are
only a minority   just under 20 per cent   not the majority of the
population.
what happened to the closed de churched?
Richter and Francis found that people in this group had had a significant
link with a church in the past. Reasons for their departure were varied, but
included a sense of boredom and lack of relevance, a sense of rejection
when refused the occasional offices, personality clashes and relationship
breakdown with church leaders, change of clergy, or disagreement over
decisions. Also in this group were those who felt they could no longer
attend because they sensed a lack of acceptance, perhaps related to a
marriage difficulty or lapse, birth of an illegitimate child, admission of sexual
orientation, a divorce, or some form of addiction. Others had left because
of what seemed to them a church culture of guilt, control or impossible
expectations. Additionally, leavers speak of loss of faith in the face of
scientific claims and other world religions, and radical disenchantment with
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