what is church planting and why does it matter?
the Church's hypocrisy, and collusion with materialism and prejudice.
For these reasons the closed de churched (over 20 per cent nationally)
are probably one of the most resistant groups in society they have
experienced church, and deliberately chosen to be no longer associated.
The closed and open de churched have been presented above as rather
distinct groups, but clearly there are overlaps and a spectrum of views and
who are the `non churched'?
This is the increasingly large proportion of society that has no history of
church attendance perhaps for several generations. There may be no one
living in their extended family for whom church is part of normal life. No one
prays for them by name. George Lings notes that church is for some `an
alien and expensive building that I wouldn't know what to do in; worse it is
occupied by people I wouldn't be seen dead with'.
As mentioned earlier,
in urban areas the proportion of non churched is likely to be much higher
than 40 per cent.
This difference between de churched and non churched is important. The
de churched have had some exposure to the Church and its message, and
they may now be left with favourable or unfavourable feelings about that
experience. But the non churched have no connection with church, nor any
real idea what it is about.
Thus it must be accepted that any approach at evangelism or community
involvement that assumes we can `bring people back to the church' can
only at best be effective for a diminishing proportion of the population.
For most people, `church' is either an utterly foreign culture, or one that
they have decided to reject. For the Church in England, the stark reality
of this situation should be a cause for profound repentance and renewed
they are no longer `our people'
The Anglican pattern of ministry, built around parish and neighbourhood,
can lead to a way of thinking that assumes that all people whether
attending or not attending are basically `our people'. All people are God's
people, but it is an illusion to assume that somehow the population of
England is simply waiting for the right invitation before they will come back
and join us. The social and mission reality is that the majority of English
society is not `our people' they haven't been in living memory, nor do